Monthly Archives: April 2019

Your Perfunctory Raiders Stadium Construction Update

Apparently, Las Vegas is getting another professional sports team, the Raiders.

As NFL teams need a place to engage in their copious concussions, Las Vegas agreed to help build the Raiders a sportsball theater experience.

We are not a sports person, so we don’t tend to blog about sports too much, but Raiders stadium is hard to ignore, so here’s an update!

Raiders

All due respect, Oakland, you can’t touch this.

As Las Vegas can get warmish (think a “kiln” you can’t turn off except for two weeks in early January), the Las Vegas Raiders stadium will have a translucent roof. Retractable roofs are so 2012.

The roof will be made from ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a fluorine-based polymer. And, yes, we knew that off the top of our head.

Raiders stadium will have 52 truss columns, each weighing about 65 tons, or about what your brother-in-law weighs after a visit to a Las Vegas buffet. Give or take a ton.

Raiders Stadium truss

These things weigh a lot, truss us on this one.

That roof will be 200 feet up and supported by trusses, which are being installed right now.

Raiders stadium update

T-Mobile’s slipping lifts into its shoes right about now.

It’s expected the stadium will be completed in August 2020.

Here’s a video that shows what’s gone into building this massive structure. Bonus: It’s narrated by Mike Rowe, the guy from “Deadliest Catch.”

The stadium will have 65,000 seats.

It’s been reported the Las Vegas Raiders stadium project will cost $1.8 billion. Although, that’s pocket change in NFL dollars.

Raiders Stadium

Still the worst education system in the country, but damn we’re good at making buildings for sports.

While we may not be the biggest football fan, there’s no denying the Raiders stadium is a big deal for Las Vegas, so we’ll keep an eye on this project, even perfunctorally, which we’re pretty sure wasn’t a word until this sentence.

Lucky Dragon Sells for $36 Million to Construction Equipment Company

The Lucky Dragon saga has taken yet another odd turn. The failed casino was purchased for $36 million by the owner of an equipment rental company, Don Ahern.

The biggest surprise is we didn’t break the story. Ha, ha. We find us hysterical.

Lucky Dragon

Dibs on the dragon.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the Lucky Dragon sale closed on April 22, 2019 with Don Ahern, CEO of construction equipment firm Ahern Rentals.

Please try to contain your excitement.

The new owner plans to re-open the Lucky Dragon under a new name (a solid strategy) as a non-gaming hotel (insert sad trombone here).

Ahern says he will turn the Lucky Dragon’s casino space into conference and convention space. The sad trombone player is being put through his paces on this one.

The Asian-themed Lucky Dragon closed in October 2018, probably because the casino had no craps table. And we couldn’t find a slice of pizza to save our life.

Lucky Dragon

Dibs on…nevermind.

While $36 million is more than we expected a buyer to pay (a bankruptcy auction garnered zero bidders), it was considerably less than what was owed on the hotel, about $50 million.

In the Las Vegas Review-Journal article, Enrique Landa of Associate Capital (linked to the Lucky Dragon’s lender, Snow Covered Capital) said, the Lucky Dragon “is a terrific property with a bright future.”

It’s just that kind of extraordinary vision and business acumen that helped the Lucky Dragon trainwreck happen.

Lucky Dragon

“Zài jiàn,” Lucky Dragon.

You do not, by the way, want to delve into the financial wheelings and dealings of this whole debacle. About 179 EB-5 investors have been left holding the bag, losing $550,000 each because the casino didn’t stay in operation long enough for the investors to earn their promised green cards.

Lucky Dragon’s challenging location made it a longshot from day one, so it’ll be interesting to see what the new owner might have in mind.

We’re seeing some cross-promotional ideas with Dig This, for starters.

And we just registered ExcavatorDragon.com. Just saying.

10 New Things Happening in Downtown Las Vegas Right Now

It’s time to dive headlong into a metric ass-ton of downtown Las Vegas updates. The alternative is for us to get a life, and you know that’s not happening.

Enjoy this hastily slapped-together list of things going on downtown at the moment, including some new things to do in downtown Las Vegas, in no particular order.

1. Flamingo at Lyft Art Park

The Lyft Art Park, in the parking lot next to Park on Fremont restaurant, has updated its collection of “Grammable” art with Phoenicopterus Rex, a 40-foot flamingo. The giant flamingo made its debut at Burning Man in 2017.

Flamingo Lyft Art Park

About 750 pounds of steel are used for each of the flamingo’s legs.

2. Circa Las Vegas Gets Its Pour On

Circa Las Vegas, a new casino resort coming to Fremont Street, has already made significant progress, including a couple of recent, massive concrete pours. Here’s the latest from the site.

Circa

While Circa is expected to eventually have 777 rooms, it will open with 500 rooms and 71 suites.

On Apr. 9, 2019, 205 concrete trucks lined up to deliver 2,050 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation of Circa. Here’s where some of it went.

Circa

We will not bore you with the technical details of what’s happening here, mainly because we don’t know what those are. We do know these are elevator shafts. One bank will go halfway up Circa, the other will go all the way up.

Circa is slated to open in 2020, and the good folks at Circa have thoughtfully put up a schedule so we can keep abreast of what’s happening when.

Circa

Thanks, Circa. Suitable for lamination.

Here’s a bonus new thing you need to know about: If you’re a fan of the Project BBQ truck, please know it’s relocated. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it, as it’s only moved 20 feet.

Project BBQ

Consider your visit to the Circa site a catered affair.

Oh, and here’s a bonus bonus: In a nearby location, we spotted some early exposure tests of the Circa windows.

Circa windows

Fun fact: The spots without glass are LED panels. So, the entire side of Circa will essentially be a video screen. The mind reels.

3. Golden Gate Sports Book Underway

Just across from the Circa site, Golden Gate is quickly working on its news sports book. We popped our head in, because that’s sort of how we roll, despite it’s being related to sports. The new sports book at Golden Gate will open June 1, 2019, under the Circa Sports brand.

Golden Gate sports book

While the sports book at Golden Gate will be one of downtown’s smallest, the one at Circa is being billed as the world’s biggest.

4. Santos Tacos & Beer Opens

We’ve spoken often of “Restaurant Row” on Carson Street downtown, as it boasts several popular dining establishments including Carson Kitchen, Vegenation, 7th & Carson and Eat. Now, Santos Tacos & Beer has taken up residence in the former Bomb Tacos space.

Santos Tacos downtown

This space has hosted a string of restaurant concepts. Let’s hope this one sticks.

Santos Tacos is a solid offering, and well worth a stop to help manage those drunchies. One of the quirky aspects of this new restaurant is its “Saint of the Day.”

Santos Tacos

The day we visited, Celine was the “Saint of the Day,” and we can all get onboard with that.

5. Cat’s Meow Karaoke Bar in the Works

Despite our best efforts to keep karaoke from being a thing in Las Vegas, Cat’s Meow at Neonopolis actually seems to have potential.

Cat's Meow

In case you’ve wondered what’s going on in there. This is that.

Cat’s Meow has its roots in New Orleans, and will take over a massive, 10,000-square-foot space on the second floor of Neonopolis.

Cat's Meow

Curiosity is the only thing we have in common with cats.

You can see Cat’s Meow from the street, and the owners say they’re trying to get approval for a staircase from Fremont Street. Access has proven a challenge for a number of businesses in Neonopolis.

Cat's Meow Las Vegas

Cat’s Meow will have multiple bars, a necessary amenity when there’s karaoke.

It sounds like Cat’s Meow will open in May 2019, and another sing-along business, OD’s, will follow in a adjacent space.

6. Don’t Tell Mama on the Move

In other Neonopolis news, Don’t Tell Mama, a piano lounge with a passionate following, has moved to the retail complex. Don’t Tell Mama originally opened in 2009.

Don't Tell Mama

Now, you know where that place you know nothing about is.

7. Downtown Grand’s Gets a New Tower

While Downtown Grand’s casino is often under-peopled, the hotel side of the business is apparently booming, so Downtown Grand is building a new hotel tower. The new tower will sit in the space where the hotel’s porte cochere used to be and construction will add 495 new rooms to the hotel.

Downtown Grand construction

Rest assured, we’ll be keeping an eye on Downtown Grand’s new erection.

8. Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s

Construction continues in dramatic fashion at Binion’s, making way for a new venue called Whiskey Licker Up.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Binion’s lost a little neon, but there’s plenty left.

Of course we poked our head inside. Do you know this blog at all?

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Walls are highly overrated.

Whiskey Licker Up will be a bar and lounge with a rotating bar as its centerpiece. There will be food, dancing and live entertainment as well. Read more.

Whiskey Licker Up

Consider this the “before” photo.

The new bar will wrap around one corner of Binion’s providing a sweet view of the festivities below. Whiskey Licker Up is expected to open summer 2019.

9. Hotel Apache Takes Reservations

See what we did there? Back in February, which never seems correctly spelled, Binion’s announced it would open about 80 rooms in a boutique, hotel-within-a-hotel, Hotel Apache. The rooms are decorated in a vintage style, and Binion’s isn’t being shy about how some believe the place is haunted. Rooms can now be booked online.

Hotel Apache

We’ve heard Hotel Apache, like its sister hotel, Four Queens, won’t have a resort fee, so there’s that.

10. First Fremont Street Experience Canopy LEDs Arrive

Fremont Street Experience, where we work in marketing as our day job (opinions are our own, as if that weren’t readily apparent), is getting a $32 million renovation of its Viva Vision screen. The canopy upgrade is a huge undertaking, and the first shipment of LEDs were recently delivered.

Fremont Street Experience canopy upgrade

These crates hold just 1/16th of the LEDs needed for the Viva Vision upgrade.

We poked our camera into one of the crates to get a look at the new LEDs. The Viva Vision canopy renovation starts around May 6, 2019, and the upgraded video screen will debut on New Year’s Eve.

Viva Vision modules

These LEDs will give the Viva Vision screen seven times the brightness and four times the resolution.

The light shows at Fremont Street Experience will continue to play throughout the upgrade. Installation of the new LEDs will happen in the late evening through early morning in 150-foot sections (from the west end of the street, near Golden Gate, to the east, near White Castle), but the shows will play with little interruption.

This Doesn’t Fit With the Rest of the List, But We’re Sharing Anyway

We figured it was worth mentioning, Beauty Bar on Fremont East has closed and isn’t coming back. The entertainment venue didn’t go down without some drama, but the curtain has fallen for the last time on this beleaguered venue.

Beauty Bar closed

Beauty Bar opened in 2004, and was once co-owned by Corey Harrison of “Pawn Stars” fame.

We trust our list satisfies your thirst for downtown Las Vegas updates.

Downtown offers a distinct and idiosyncratic, to say the least, alternative to the Las Vegas Strip.

We do our best to keep you in the loop on all the latest news, mainly because it gives us an excuse to drink and gamble downtown more. We also love keeping you informed. But mainly the drinking and gambling thing. Just keeping it real.

News Release About The Drew Contains Glorious Amounts of WTF

It’s been so quiet at The Drew, formerly the Fontainebleau, we were delighted to see a news release from the resort’s owner, Witkoff Group.

Our delight didn’t last long, because we actually read the release. Cue the tsunami of WTF.

Tsunami of WTF, we should mention, was our band name in high school.

So, it seems Witkoff wanted to announce it has hired a design architect, Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Which seems dangerously close to math, but we’ll let it slide this time.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is apparently a well-known firm, despite the fact they seem to have misplaced their comma. (Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio are two different people.)

The firm has been tasked with “realizing a fresh vision for the next integrated resort on the north Strip’s emerging luxury corridor.”

So much to unpack, and we’re one sentence in.

First, as we mentioned, The Drew is the former Fontainebleau. Fontainebleau was about 70% complete when it was abandoned in 2009 due to dipshittery.

“Fresh,” then, is a relative term here.

Fontainebleau wrap

The wrap doesn’t really help.

“Emerging luxury corridor” may be stretching it a bit. This is the north Strip. Circus Circus is the hotel’s closest neighbor, with SLS a third of a mile north. Resorts World is emerging, slowly, but that hardly qualifies as a corridor.

Given the area’s string of bad luck (Alon, Wynn West, All Net Resort), “crushing disappointment corridor” might be a more fitting label.

This is where the news release gets epic.

Charles Renfro, lead designer of the Drew, adds, “The team’s design approach was inspired by the multiple ecologies of Las Vegas itself—the dynamic and rugged beauty of the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas’ early adoption of modern architecture, and the city’s enthusiastic embrace of spectacle. The Drew will weave these seemingly contradictory conditions into a new quixotic environment.”

Apparently, the Mojave Desert is teeming with peyote!

But wait, there’s more.

“We are incredibly excited about being part of the Las Vegas landscape. Robust demand drivers continue to create an imbalance of hotel inventory supply and demand. The Drew is poised to not only capitalize on this imbalance, but also offer visitors a new marquee luxury resort with a distinctive, compelling concept. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our team and our partners,” shared Steven Witkoff.

We really missed the boat by not naming our band Robust Demand Drivers.

Witkoff

We’re just sharing the logo. You’re on your own with the snark.

All due respect, but Mr. Witkoff clearly doesn’t place much value on clue-having as he seems to believe demand is outpacing hotel inventory in Las Vegas. Las Vegas visitation is down, bro.

If there’s an imbalance, it’s that there’s too much room inventory, which is likely one of the reasons The Drew’s opening has been pushed back two years.

This little gem was tucked neatly at the end of the news release: “With a confirmed opening date in the second quarter of 2022, Drew Las Vegas has also kicked off its sales efforts to group customers. The initial response to the 3,780-room resort has been overwhelmingly positive as groups look for new ideas and a fresh perspective.”

“Confirmed”! Because if you say it in a news release, it has to be true.

There’s so much off-the-wall in this announcement, it’s hard to keep track of it all.

The reality is this project doesn’t have financing in place. That’s because you can’t really get financing unless you have an architect as part of the pre-planning and budget process, and Witkoff just hired this one.

Two years after Fontainebleau was purchased.

Two years.

To hire an architect.

The first thing on a developer’s to-do list.

A story in Bloomberg says, “By delaying, Witkoff will have more certainty about his construction budget.”

Like we said, you can’t get financing unless you know what the budget is.

Fontainebleau wrap

There’s no great angle. We’ve tried.

The thing they didn’t mention in the release is it’s likely this isn’t the first architect Witkoff has hired for The Drew. We’re thinking the first firm drew up some plans, ran some numbers and they didn’t make the cut, so don’t let the door hit you on the way out, architects.

Also not in the release are the specifics of challenges related to giving a makeover to an abandoned building exposed to the elements for years.

The latest cost estimate for making The Drew a thing is $3.1 billion. With a “b.”

Never fear, though. Witkoff says Goldman Sachs Group and Deutsche Bank have been hired to raise additional capital. It’s complicated.

Remember, Las Vegas was built on optimism and whimsy! The Drew seems to have an ample supply of both.

The truth is while we’re more skeptical than ever The Drew will become a reality (we’ve heard the property may still be flipped), we’re rooting for it to succeed.

From the day we broke the story of Fontainebleau being sold, we were onboard for something, anything being done with the hulking blue eyesore.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas

We are obligated to share this fake billboard whenever we talk about this place.

There’s a chance in a few years Las Vegas visitation could warrant thousands of rooms coming online. There’s no denying Drew’s proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center, with its $935 million expansion, could make it more desirable to investors.

We can’t wait to hear from Steven Witkoff when The Drew, with it’s unfortunate name, opens. “Suck it,” Steven Witkoff will say, and we will feel ashamed for ever having doubted him and his comma-challenged architectural firm.

For now, we’ll watch and wait and wonder at how such smart, rich people can read and approve news releases that make them seem so, well, rich.

Oscar’s at Plaza Endures as Stand-Out Vegas Steakhouse

While Oscar’s Steakhouse has been around since Dec. 2011, we figured it was time to loop back around to see how the joint’s doing.

We’re glad we did.

Oscar's Steakhouse

A touch of class without pretense, that’s Oscar’s.

In the early days of the restaurant, it was called Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads, but downtown’s Plaza has perhaps wisely backed off of using that saucy name. Now, it’s pretty much just Oscar’s Steakhouse.

The “Oscar” in “Oscar’s,” of course, is former Las Vegas mayor and mob lawyer, Oscar Goodman. Goodman spent a dozen colorful years as mayor, 1999 to 2011. Now, his wife, Carolyn Goodman, is mayor and just won re-election. Vegas loves its Goodmans.

In the spirit of Oscar Goodman, literally, let’s have a cocktail.

The signature cocktails at Oscar’s are reliably top-notch, including the Q 1908. The Q 1908 has Empress gin, fresh lemon and simple syrup.

Oscar's Plaza

We aren’t personally a gin person, yet we enjoyed this a lot, anyway.

We’re fairly sure every meal at Oscar’s should begin with the crab cakes. They’re a sight to behold.

Oscar's crab cakes

Oscar’s crab cakes are big enough to be dinner, but that’s not how appetizers work. Pace yourself, for once.

The official name of the appetizer is Johnny Quinn’s Crab Cake, by the way. Lots of dishes at Oscar’s have creative names, often inspired by Oscar Goodman’s life and sometimes controversial career.

Johnny Quinn was a raconteur and head of the hotel’s race and sports book when the Plaza was called Union Plaza. How do we know this? Oscar’s has thoughtfully put together a “List of Included Persons” booklet, a nod to the famous “Black Book” authorities use to keep track of folks unwelcome in casinos.

Oscar's Plaza Las Vegas

This entertaining booklet will keep you company while your date is on her phone. Ahem.

Let’s get into the entrees, already.

We had to get the filet mignon (sorry, Joey C’s Filet Mignon), and it was excellent.

Oscar's filet mignon

We’re more into “eating our steak” than “taking notes about the sauce,” sorry.

The sides were also outstanding, and Oscar’s serves what we’d call destination mac and cheese.

Oscar's mac and cheese

Again, a whole meal, but that’s not how sides work, either.

Our dining companion braved a dish with a face only a mother could love, the whole roasted branzino. Branzino, of course, is European sea bass. The dish involved brown butter-caper beurre blanc and arugula, but mainly we were left wondering what is wrong with people. She loved it, though, so to each their own.

Oscar's Steakhouse fish

Oh, just cover up the face with your arugula.

Time for another delectable cocktail!

We’re a fan of sweet, tropical drinks, so we went with the Jungle Bird. The Jungle Bird has Real McCoy three-year rum, simple syrup, Campari, fresh lime and pineapple juice.

Oscar's Las Vegas

We may not be into fish faces, but we sure as hell are into Jungle Birds.

When you dine a Oscar’s, you won’t have room for dessert, as if that’s going to stop you from having it.

The chocolate mousse prevailed in the dessert battle royale, with a trio of imported chocolates in mousse terrine. No, we don’t have any idea what half those words mean. Don’t judge, just gawk.

Oscar's mousse

Now, that’s a Vegas threesome.

Oscar’s is a traditional Las Vegas steakhouse with a twist. What’s the twist? The restaurant sits in a spot that was once the hotel’s pool.

Here’s what Oscar’s looks like from the outside.

Oscar's Steakhouse

There’s no place like dome.

The service is old-school charm, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming (no need to scream over intrusive live or piped-in music, thankfully), the drinks are strong and the prices are quite reasonable.

You can check out the full Oscar’s menu online.

Big thanks to the Plaza for hosting our visit, and Oscar’s is a worthy addition to your Las Vegas must-try list.

Oscar's Steakhouse at Plaza

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Intrigue Nightclub to Close at Wynn Las Vegas

It’s a crazy time for nightlife in Las Vegas. We’re hearing Intrigue, the nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas, is set to close.

News of Intrigue’s closure, confirmed by multiple sources, comes on the heels of another Las Vegas nightclub bombshell, that Hyde Bellagio will close.

While Hyde will be replaced with another nightclub concept, it sounds like Wynn Resorts will not do the same with Intrigue. That’s a pretty big deal.

A source familiar with Intrigue says the nightclub will close around Memorial Day (late May 2019), and no other nightclub concept is currently planned for the space.

It will be rented out for events, just as the hotel did with its Alex restaurant space. Alex is slated to become a new supper club concept, Delilah, in spring 2020.

Intrigue

There’s nothing more intriguing than a juicy Vegas rumor.

Intrigue opened at Wynn in 2016 in the space that was formerly Tryst nightclub.

Intrigue is unique in that it has both an indoor and outdoor component. Intrigue’s outdoor patio features waterfall and pyrotechnics. The club’s footprint covers 14,000-square-feet.

Intrigue is a holdover from the Steve Wynn era. The club’s concept was that of the company’s disgraced former CEO, with design by Wynn’s longtime collaborator Roger Thomas and former COO Sean Christie. Christie now oversees nightlife at MGM Resorts, and will spearhead the rebrand of Hyde Bellagio. Small world.

The possible closure of Intrigue has not been announced, but we have no patience for “news releases” or “official confirmations.” “Bor,” meet “ing.”

While we are not personally a nightclub person, we love a good scoop, so we look forward to seeing how this (wait for it) intrigue unfolds.

Update (5/30/19): Our scoop has been confirmed. Intrigue will close June 1, 2019. The space will be used as we shared, for special events.