Tropicana Las Vegas Closure Set
The Tropicana Las Vegas this week confirmed it will close in April 2024. The legendary Las Vegas Strip venue has been an icon among Nevada casinos for 66 years, although it has been on borrowed time since at least May 2023.
The plan is to demolish the site to make room for a potential new baseball stadium to house the Oakland A’s team after their proposed move from the California Bay Area to Las Vegas.
Despite possible pitfalls in that process, and with any building not looking likely until at least 2027, Tropicana owner Bally’s is reported to be keen on pushing ahead with the demolition project.
The Tropicana’s general manager Arik Knowles sent out an internal memo to employees on Monday, notifying them of the closure. The note was leaked to the media and then confirmed by his office.
“Our expected closing date is April 2, 2024,” Knowles wrote. “In the interim, we will begin to close out all hotel bookings and relocate all reservations booked for April and beyond.”
“We understand and appreciate the number of questions many of you have at the time,” Knowles wrote. “Please be assured that property leadership is working closely with Bally’s leadership to assist all team members through this transition period.”
The Tropicana has a history in Las Vegas going back 75 years. Interestingly, the most recent major Sin City casino resort to close has links to its shiniest, newest resort.
Ben Jaffe, who first decided to construct The Tropicana in 1955, made his money for the project through his partnership on The Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.
Some 70 years later, the Fontainebleau would finally join The Tropicana in Sin City, when Fontainebleau Las Vegas opened in December. Although it seems they will now only coexist for a couple of months.
The Tropicana was the most expensive property in Las Vegas when it opened in 1958, costing some $15 million. Although its mob connections caused some controversy, it kept its reputation as a hip haunt of the rich and famous among Nevada casinos for more than two decades, until it started to decline in the mid-1970s.
A second hotel tower was added in 1986, and the Tropicana has been a going concern since. However, it never really got back the magic of its ’60s heyday in the face of better-funded competitors.
In 2015, Penn Entertainment paid $360 million for the property and the land. It then sold the land to its own spin-off real estate investment trust, Gaming and Leisure Properties (GLP), in 2020.
Bally’s then bought the operating rights to the Tropicana for $148 million in 2022, leasing the land from GLP.
GLP has previously said that once the proposed stadium is finished, it will eventually build a new casino resort in the remaining space.
Union Employees to Get Severance
Now that the Trop, as locals call it, is set to close, its long-term unionized employees could well be in for a respectable severance package.
Around 300 of the 700 current Tropicana employees are part of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226. In 2023, the strong union negotiated a massive contract upgrade with the three major Las Vegas casino resort operators, MGM, Caesars, and Wynn.
Potential strike action is still a threat in its negotiations with smaller Sin City casino operators, but not at Tropicana, where new contracts were also reached last year.
All that means some half of the workforce will be getting a $2,000 check for each year they have worked at the resort. For those who have been there one to even three decades, that will be a substantial payout.
“The company notified the workers that their plan was to close, but there were no dates,” said Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge, speaking this week.
“We worked very hard with Bally’s and the Tropicana negotiating team to get the agreement. It’s a significant severance package,”
Future A’s Move in the Cards
Bally’s says it plans to demolish the Tropicana as soon as this summer, with its final day now pegged for April 1.
As of today, the resort’s website is no longer taking bookings after that date.
The Oakland Athletics’ long-mooted move to Las Vegas was kicked into gear in 2023 after looking to be on shaky ground for several months. In June, lawmakers approved a $380 million funding package to help finance the 30,000-seat stadium’s construction, which designated the Tropicana’s site as the location for the project.
Operator Bally’s released a statement Monday on the future plans for the site.
“The master plan for the site will accelerate once the Athletics’ ballpark concept design is finalized. The overall development will create energy and vibrancy that previously hasn’t existed on this side of the Strip, adding additional excitement for the sports destination,” a spokesperson said.
Rhode-Island based Bally’s operates dozens of U.S gambling venues, including casinos in Michigan, Colorado, New Jersey, and Mississippi.