Vital Vegas Blog

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.

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.

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.

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.