Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) Will Buy and Demolish Riviera Las Vegas

It’s hard to keep a secret in Vegas, and this one’s juicy. The official announcement is still a few days off, but the story behind our earlier report of the Riviera being sold appears to be coalescing. The classic Riviera Hotel & Casino is being purchased by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and will be demolished.

Update (Feb. 17, 2015): The Riviera sale has been confirmed. Sale price: $182.5 million. Read the latest.

Our friends at Las Vegas Advisor spilled the beans about the still-unconfirmed specifics of the sale, bolstering earlier rumors about the impending sale and non-gaming use of the land after the hotel’s demise. Thanks to our pal Marc at Edge Vegas for initially pointing us toward rumors of the sale.

Riviera Las Vegas

Dibs on the neon. Yes, all of it.

Details aren’t expected until the official announcement of the sale on Feb. 17, 2015, but word has it the LVCVA will demolish The Riv and expand the footprint of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

One source is reporting the company which recently imploded the Clarion hotel was also asked for a bid to demolish the Riviera Las Vegas.

Sadness at losing an iconic casino aside, this scenario makes sense given the LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District project. A news release for the $2.3 billion project states, “Including public areas and service areas, the expansion and renovation expand the facility from its current total footprint of 3.2 million square feet to nearly 5.7 million square feet. Once construction begins, the entire project is expected to take 5-8 years to complete.” See details.

Riviera Las Vegas

There’s a lot of Las Vegas at the Riviera.

A potential timeline for the demolition of the Riviera has emerged following our initial reporting of the sale.

Our buddy John Katsilometes of the Las Vegas Sun writes, “According to those familiar with the transaction, the purchase of the Riviera from its current owner, lending company Starwood Capital Group, would lead to the closing of the hotel as early as May. The LVCVA would then order the demolition of the building by the end of June.”

According to one of our readers, the “entire management team” of Riviera (a company called Paragon Gaming) has already moved to the Westgate Las Vegas. Paragon Gaming provides (or provided) “oversight of the executive level management, financial, marketing, business and organizational strategy services” to Riviera.

So, assuming that’s how this is going to play out, it’s time to swing by the Riviera for a keepsake chip and one last rub of those Crazy Girls cheeks.

Crazy Girls statue

You will be ours. Oh, yes, you will be ours.

The Riviera Las Vegas opened in 1955 and has 2,100 rooms. The Riv was the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip, and when it opened, was included in a Life Magazine story with the headline, “Las Vegas—Is Boom Overextended?”

The Riviera was mobbed up, as many Las Vegas hotels were, in the 1960s and 1970s.

The Marx brother, on the advice of Gummo, owned about 10% of the Riviera at one time. Rat Pack member Dean Martin was also had an ownership stake in the Riviera at one time.

The hotel has played host to some notable performers and shows, including Liberace, the aforementioned Dean Martin, and shows like “Splash” and “An Evening at La Cage,” precursor to female impersonator Frank Marino’s popular “Divas Las Vegas,” now at The Linq hotel. The Riv is currently home to the last big cat show on The Strip, Dirk Arthur Wild Illusions.

Numerous feature films have featured the Riviera, including 1960’s “Oceans Eleven,” “Casino,” “Showgirls,” “Vegas Vacation,” “3000 Miles to Graceland” and “The Hangover.”

Because of its proximity to the Riviera, concerns have been raised about the beloved Peppermill restaurant and lounge being included in the deal, but a rep from the restaurant swears “no.” (Then again, front-line employees often don’t know about behind-the-scenes deal-making.) Our longtime reader Steven Brown suggests it’s possible that while the land under the Peppermill has been purchased by the LVCVA, there’s no reason to think the popular hangout will close anytime soon. We’ll see! Here’s the latest.

Riviera has been a colorful part of Las Vegas, but as we’ve come to learn, the only constant in Las Vegas is change. Well, that and sure-fire roulette systems. But mostly that first thing.

The Riviera will be missed.

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  • Kerr

    So the first question is, “When will the Riviera close?”

  • gramsclp

    has anyone put out a date for this closing? we are coming to Vegas April 25-29 with 2 newbies, hoping we can walk thru at least one more time and show it to them

    • We’ll know more details next week. Could be months.

      • Ray Gill

        I worked at the Riveria from 1982 thru 1990. I’ve seen it all, trust me. I HAD COMPLETE and total access to every room on the property.I could write a book.

    • ocho Fiver

      May 4….get your last $1 BJ fix in before they close! I WILL!

  • Craig Peet

    That’s devastating news we love The Riviera

  • JeffinOKC

    THIS IS PERVERSE! THIS IS SOYLENT GREEN COME TO LIFE! OBAMA DEATH PANELS!
    LVCVA is a group that wouldn’t exist without the efforts and cooperation of the Riviera ownership (along with Moe Dalitz from the Stardust, plus other Strip operators) around 1960.

    I’m sure there will be a lot of justifications from LVCVA and this plan supporters about how Las Vegas has transitioned from a “gambling town” to a “Convention Powerhouse” and how much this expansion is vital for future growth. How gaming has become such a small part of the Las Vegas experience, and how most of the “old” Strip casinos have been demolished anyway.
    BULL!!
    The Las Vegas Strip IS Las Vegas, and the Riviera is part of what made it the Most Exciting City In The World. The LVCVA (which is substantially supported by taxes on the hotel rooms used by ALL visitors to the Strip); much like a vulture, is clearly devouring an aging property when it is weakest. Notice there is no deal to buy the gas station on the Paradise corner, or the La Concha & El Morocco sites adjacent on LVB. Those would keep this deal from looking like a gerrymandered mess, BUT, they would cost more than LVCVA wants to spend. And LVCVA can explain anything away (they ARE run by many of the BEST PR minds in North America, don’t you know). Don’t even mention the Fountainebleau site. Carl Ichan is MUCH too important person to be disturbed, don’t cha know?
    This isn’t about anti-progress, aging wackos, who don’t want anything new. This is about preserving something that can still be viable, is suffering from the short sighted attempts of others to isolate it, and is one of the most recognizable brands in American history.
    I saw an NFL Network special about Ed Sabol this week. Sportswriter Peter King was shown saying that “during the Hall Of Fame election meetings, one of the most important questions is ‘Can you write the history of the NFL without mentioning this person?'” That same question is appropriate in regards to the Riviera and the history of Las Vegas. Another question is “You ever heard of a convention center hall of fame?”
    Stop. L-V-C-V-A. R-I-V-I-E-R-A!
    STOP! L-V-C-V-A! R-I-V-I-E-R-A!
    STOP!
    L-V-C-V-A!
    R-I-V-I-E-R-A!!!

    • Interesting thoughts. Vegas is like a shark, though. Forward, ever forward.

      • Kodidog

        Yes…and like a shark…with no emotion, and any reaction, no matter how frantic, from external forces, does not slow it down once it is focused on eating it’s prey.

        • Vegas is all business. Sometimes that works out for us, sometimes it means things go away. Can’t get too emotionally attached.

          • Rebecca Kennedy

            Well said. It is run by the almighty dollar!

      • David Riedel

        Vegas strip is run by tourists….if tourists supported the Stardust and it will stay there. Tourists want the best and Vegas supports the tourists wants and needs!! Simple as that!

        • This Bo

          Mr. Riedel, do you mean the Riviera, not the Stardust. Thank you….also maybe if they had a great chef it would still be running strong.

      • TheOriginalDonald

        Left Shark, Right Shark, or Kevin O’Leary? #SharkTank

    • ocho Fiver

      Convention Center should be off strip as it is!!!! Who is gonna drive down the strip and say ‘WOW, look at that Convention Center”

  • Wally Balls

    Most importantly, what’s going to happen to The Peppermill?

    • Great question. Vegas institution.

    • Rebecca Kennedy

      LOL..that was my first thought too!!!

    • Isn’t the Peppermill on separate property? I know they have a 20-year lease with the landholder they signed in 2012’ish..

  • AccessVegas

    This sucks. Old school Vegas, cheap food, cheap booze, famous facade, an interior that actually looks like a real casino.

    • True. If you like your Vegas grittier and more value-oriented, this will be a loss. Big picture, though.

      • AccessVegas

        The big picture of a convention facility fronting The Strip, no thanks.

  • Derby America

    Every roller derby player in the world is holding their breath right now to see what will happen to our beloved RollerCon. We know it’ll happen and be awesome where ever we land… but the Black n Blue ball won’t be the same without the Riv!

    • Yep, that’ll send a shock through the derby world, but RollerCon will live on!

    • Immeandyouare

      There are other places you could hold it in Vegas The Plaza downtown maybe the spot. Or The Gold Coast Casino.

      • ZzjitterzZ

        How about The Orleans? They have an empty arena now.

        • No word on that at all.

        • Immeandyouare

          I’m sure they have used it for other things and not just hockey. They are a good option too.

        • Ran D Dale

          orleansarena.com – Not Empty

    • cindy

      The former VP of Banquets & Conventions at the Riviera, who held all those events for 15 years holds the same position at the Rampart casino, which is a JW Marriott in Summerlin, Las Vegas, his name is Lloyd Wetzel, and the space there is perfect for all events. ..the yearly Pool Players also have the same issue…good luck, Cindy (former Riv employee 2005-2009)

  • Greg Williams

    i think it makes sense, even if sad to lose another icon. larger convention center area should be able to bring more conventioners who need a place to stay. forces more business to other hotels which is a good thing. riviera seems has been done for yrs

    • Agreed, and painful. Don’t get by there too much, but would like it to be there.

  • Triple Seven

    Sad to see another of a classic casino being put to rest. Hopefully it will still be open during the Bar & Nightclub convention so i can stop by and say my goodbyes and for a last smack of the buns. Wish i could have them! 😉

    • Johnny Kats says it could close in May, demolition in June.

  • jeromecleary

    so there is no historic preservation in Las Vegas to save iconic structures?

    • It happens in different ways. The dragons at the IP went to VIPs. Sometimes, signs end up at the Neon Museum. Other hotels do auctions, as Sahara did. That “Crazy Girls” statue is going to be in high demand.

  • John Colson

    Desperately sad to hear this news. I love stopping off at the Riv most trips if nothing else but for nostalgic reasons. They can keep their bloody hands off the Peppermill though…….

    • Yeah, while I didn’t stop by often, it was nice knowing it’s there. That’s not a great business model, though.

  • kathie63

    That’s a shame! This is where we stayed when we got married in 2000. Had good luck at the machines.

    • Hold onto those wedding photos. They’re collectibles now!

  • Don McDonald

    It is sad to see another place close but it has been a long time since the Riviera was relevant to my Vegas experience. It has been painful to watch it slowly slip into what it has become today.

    • Agreed. We’d stop by if a restaurant opened, but that was rare. It’s time has probably come.

  • Jean-Philippe Mill

    hope it will be opened by march 10. I already booked my trip

    • A recent story says it could close in May, demolition in June. We’ll know on Tuesday.

      • Jean-Philippe Mill

        Guess we will be in the last people to go there!!!

  • disqus_L3DTF0uhXp

    Just confirmed by management. Had a big meeting with employees this am. Said will be open no later than may

    • Kelly Hernandez

      Riv mgmt had meeting with employees?

  • Dave

    APA NATIONALS IS PLAYED THERE EVER YEAR.

    • Cindy Suttles

      YES, it is! I won my way there in August 2010 and have a couple more chances to get there this year, but with the first part of Nationals being so soon, and so many people already having reservations, we will be the ones losing 1000’s of dollars. I would love to play at the Riviera just one more time. This is sad :'(

      • Tim Evock

        Great job. last year was my first was trying my best to make it this year.

  • Too bad, i love this hotel! 🙁

    And we often reported it at our blog (www.der-pitboss.com).

  • Tim Evock

    Spent a week there last August loved the place . Anynews who will pick up the a.p.a. playoffs?

  • djtorchMusic

    I might understand this move if they were going to build something better. But, if they’re going to just take it down to “do something else”, I think it sucks.

  • Bill Carns

    Not sad to see this. The Riviera is the biggest turd left on the strip. A modge-podge of “architecture” and attempts to be relevant in an era where that property is just plain irrelevant.

  • Ed Hamilton

    This is not right competing with.private enterprise
    LVCA is financed with taxpayer dollars

  • cindy

    The former VP of Banquets & Conventions at the Riviera, who held all those events for 15 years holds the same position at the Rampart casino, which is a JW Marriott in Summerlin, Las Vegas, his name is Lloyd Wetzel, and the space there is perfect for all events. ..the yearly Pool Player also have the same issue…good luck, Cindy (formerly of the Riv 2005-2009)

  • Tom Alston

    It’s a piece of Las Vegas history , so why does this keep happening, every legendary hotel on the strip has disappeared, why ,not revamp the hotels don’t pull them down , a visitors centre that’s very important , my ass

  • disqus_L3DTF0uhXp

    The entire paragon management team is now going over to the westgate.. Good luck westgate

    • Scott Roeben

      Hadn’t heard that. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Hadn’t heard that. Thanks for sharing the information.

  • Brett Jonathan Bradley-Howarth

    Words can’t describe how saddened I am by this news 🙁

  • Part of me is really sad to see a part of Classic Vegas bite the dust.

    But, at the same time, Riviera went to seed years ago. The two best parts of that building are the bronze butts out front (Hey LVCVA, that needs to be preserved and put right back out in front of the building to honor the history), and the Indian restaurant in the food court that serves up surprisingly solid fare 24/7.

  • The LVCA is an extension of the MGM and Caesars corporations, They need to rid the city of the affordable gaming properties…

  • disqus_L3DTF0uhXp

    I think the most f up’d thing is management has stated the mandatory uniform for April is a T-shirt that celebrates rivieras 60th bday. Wear a T-shirt of bday weeks before everyone is fired . class act management

  • wwoof

    I’ll miss the Riv. Back in the Eighties, in the little upstairs buffet, the owner’s wife had a stack of business cards with her name and her recipe for the bread pudding next to the dessert area, wish I still had that card. Easy table games, loose slots. Good, good times.

  • Steven Brown

    The wheels are now in motion, as the deal has been officially confirmed as there will be a special meeting of the LVCVA on Friday on the deal ($182.5 million.) and the deal (if approved by the LVCVA board), would close immediately upon approval. No report of when the property would close, but the deal also includes a leaseback arrangement with Paragon Gaming (who currently manages the property) as the LVCVA by law cannot run the place. Paragon would be responsible for winding down operations there, and I would speculate that the earliest the Riv may close is mid-April.

    LVCVA sets special meeting about Riviera acquisition

    • Thanks, Steven. Appreciate your staying on top of everything Vegas, and always enjoy your comments, news and insights.

  • ocho Fiver

    so silly!!! City of Las Vegas has got to keep the strip casino’s going!!!
    no more condo’s, malls, convention centers…
    they are losing touch with their identity!!!!