The last day has come for a Las Vegas legend: The historic Tropicana Casino closes

People walk outside the Tropicana Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 28, 2024. The property is scheduled to close on April 2, 2024. (AP Photo/John Locher)

In the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever,” James Bond lives in a lavish suite at the Tropicana Las Vegas.

“I hear the Tropicana Hotel is quite comfortable,” Agent 007 says.

It was Tropicana’s heyday. The luxurious casino was a hangout for the legendary Rat Pack, while its past under the Mafia cemented its place in Las Vegas lore.

But after welcoming visitors for 67 years, the doors of the third-oldest casino on the Las Vegas Strip will be chained shut Tuesday afternoon and demolition is scheduled for October to make way for a 1,500-seat Major League Baseball stadium. million dollars, part of the city’s latest rebranding as a sports entertainment center.

“It’s time. It’s over”Charlie Granado, a bartender at the Tropicana for 38 years, said of the casino closing. “It makes me sad but, on the other hand, it’s a happy ending.”

Construction equipment parked behind the Tropicana Hotel-Casino on Thursday, March 28, 2024 in Las Vegas. The casino, which will close April 2, will be demolished to make way for a proposed baseball stadium. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The population of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, surpassed 100,000 when the Tropicana opened its doors on a strip surrounded by wide open desert. It cost $15 million to build three floors with 300 rooms divided into two wings.

Its manicured lawns and lavish showrooms earned it the nickname “Tiffany of the Strip.” Near the entrance was an attractive tulip-shaped fountain, with mosaics and mahogany paneled walls everywhere.

Black-and-white photographs from the era give a glimpse of what the inside of the Tropicana was like in its heyday, when it frequently hosted A-list stars from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis in its showroom. Jr

Mel Torme and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton live there.

A city known for its reinvention, the Tropicana itself underwent major changes as Las Vegas developed. Two hotel towers were added in later years. In 1979, a million-dollar green and amber stained glass ceiling was installed above the casino floor.

Plants grow around the enclosed pool area of ​​the Tropicana Hotel-Casino, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Barbara Boggess was 26 years old when she started working as a laundry attendant at the Tropicana in 1978.

“The Tropicana was all alone here,” Boggess said. “Everything was deserted. It used to take me 10 minutes to go to work. “It takes an hour now.”

Boggess, now 72, has seen the Tropicana through its many incarnations. In the 1980s the pool was rebranded as “Las Vegas Island” with a blackjack table, and a South Beach-themed renovation was completed in 2011.

Today, only the low-rise hotel room wings remain of the original Tropica structure. However, the casino still evokes classic Las Vegas nostalgia.

“It gives that old Las Vegas feel. When you first walk in, you see the stained glass windows and the low ceilings,” said JT Seumala, a Las Vegas resident who visited the casino in March. “It’s like you’ve stepped back in time for a moment. gone back.”

People walk through the casino floor of the Tropicana Hotel-Casino on Friday, March 29, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Seemala and her husband stayed at the Tropicana as a way of paying tribute to the milestone. They wandered around the casino and hotel, walking down random hallways and exploring the convention center. They tried their luck at blackjack and roulette and chatted with a waiter who had worked there for 25 years. At the end of their stay, they pocketed some red $5 poker chips to remember the casino.

Behind the scenes of the casino’s inception decades ago, Tropicana has ties to organized crimeMostly by reputed mobster Frank Costello.

Weeks after the grand opening, Costello was shot in the head in New York. The police found a piece of paper in his coat pocket with exact profit figures for the Tropicana. According to a post on the Mob Museum website discussing the history of the Tropicana, the note also referred to “money to be stolen” for Costello’s associates.

In the 1970s, federal authorities investigating mobsters in Kansas City charged more than a dozen mob agents with conspiring to steal nearly $2 million in gambling revenue from Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana. Tropicana-related charges alone resulted in five convictions.

But even the famous hotel-casinos enjoyed many years of success without the Mafia. It was home to the city’s oldest show, the “Follies Bergère”.. A topless revue imported from Paris featured what is now one of Las Vegas’ most recognizable icons: the feathered showgirl.

Cloth torn from a cabana in the indoor pool area of ​​the Tropicana Hotel-Casino, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

During its nearly 50-year run, “Follies Bergère” featured elaborate costumes and sets, original music performed at one time by a live orchestra, line dancers, magic shows, acrobats and comedy.

This cabaret appeared in the 1964 Elvis Presley film “Viva Las Vegas”. Magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horne started in the show.

Today, the site at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip intersects a major thoroughfare named the Tropicana. It is surrounded by the megaresorts Las Vegas is known for.

But nearby are the homes of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, who left Oakland, California in 2020, and the city’s first professional major league team, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The stadium planned for the ground beneath the Tropicana is expected to open in 2028.

“There is a lot of controversy about whether he should stay or whether he should go,” Semla said. “But what I love about Las Vegas is that it’s always reinventing itself.”

(with information from AP)

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