10 Reasons the North Las Vegas Strip is About to Explode

The struggle is real on the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

SLS Las Vegas, formerly the Sahara Hotel and Casino, has struggled. Lucky Dragon has struggled. All Net Resort and Arena, Resorts World and Fontainebleau Resort have all served as symbols of the struggle.

SLS Las Vegas

Ownership of SLS is just one of the big changes coming to the north Strip, so bid farewell to this goofball.

But all that, all of it, is about to change. In recent months, there have been numerous signs the north end of The Strip is about to explode. Here’s a quick look at what’s already happening and what’s on the not-too-distant horizon.

1. Resorts World is Alive

The long-delayed Asian-themed resort has had more construction activity in the last month than in the previous year, and word is Resorts World is shifting into full-blown construction mode. The company has awarded $400 million in contracts and new cranes are popping up on the site with each passing week. The wait is finally over, and the construction of Resorts World is shaking loose other dormant projects on the north Strip, too.

Resorts World

This is the start of something big at Resorts World. This photo was taken on Nov. 28, 2017.

2. All Net Resort and Arena is Funded

We honestly thought we’d never see those words in that order, but “All Net Resort and Arena is funded.” Many thought this resort, which will be located between Fontainebleau and SLS, was a pipe dream. Well, dreams come true, and insiders insist this is that. All Net Resort recently applied to increase the size of its hotel tower, and we’ve even heard additional financing (by Credit Suisse, no less) is in place to acquire (wait for it) an NBA team. While having an NBA team is far from a done deal (MGM Resorts, which recently purchased a WNBA team, may have something to say about that), the Vegas Golden Knights have broken the dam for those who questioned if pro sports can be a thing in Las Vegas.

All Net Arena

We’ve been skeptical about All Net Resort, too, but watch what happens.

3. Fontainebleau is Sold

We broke the story, so you know it’s a big deal. The abandoned structure was sold for $600 million to buyers Witkoff and New Valley. While the buyers are in an assessment mode at the moment, we hear they’re actively lining up a hotel partner (rumored to be Marriott) to manage the resort. Sorry, no casino from what we hear. The upcoming expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center, right next door, pretty much assures this project is moving full steam ahead.

Fontainebleau wrap

The sale of Fontainebleau is a wrap.

4. Las Vegas Convention Center Expanded

The upcoming $1.4 billion (with a “b”) expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center has investors champing at the bit to get in on nearby projects. In November 2017, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority approved the selection of a design team for the expansion, and the project will add 1.4 million square feet of new space to one of the premiere convention venues in the world. Those 600,000 estimated new Las Vegas visitors need places to fornicate (sorry, sleep) and eat and drink and shop, so the north Strip is about to get a jolt like Sin City has
never witnessed in its history.

Las Vegas Convention Center expansion

No, Cirque du Soleil is not the design firm for the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. Good guess, though.

5. Wynn Paradise Park Zips Ahead

Casino mogul Steve Wynn’s crowning glory is set to change the Las Vegas landscape, again. Wynn Paradise Park is an expensive, ambitious and somewhat baffling development featuring a lagoon, a 47-story hotel and carnival-themed diversions like bumper cars, a massive carousel, zip lines and nighttime parades with fireworks. Construction begins Jan. 3, 2018, and if anyone can pull off an outlandish concept, it’s Steve Wynn and his team of visionaries.

Here’s the golf course Wynn Paradise Park will be replacing.

6. SLS Las Vegas is Purchased

SLS Las Vegas opened with much fanfare, only to immediately face the realities of a challenging location and an intended customer base that never materialized. Then came news of a sale (we broke that story, too, of course) to Meruelo Group, the folks behind Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. While the sale has recently stalled as details of the deal are hammered out (both sides are dug in, but negotiations continue), a sale is the best chance SLS has of infusing new blood and new ideas (and a new name) into a great resort that could be a big winner in the north Strip turnaround.

SLS 3-D legs

Let’s hope whatever replaces SLS has legs.

7. Stratosphere Changes Hands

The iconic Stratosphere and three other Las Vegas casinos were recently purchased by Golden Entertainment. While this isn’t the flashiest of sales, new ownership inevitably brings new ideas, new capital and new energy to a casino. While Stratosphere sits in a blighted neighborhood, growth and prosperity on the north end of the Strip could change that in a big way and Stratosphere is poised to reap the rewards.

Funny Stratosphere chip

We expect to either get: 1) a box of chocolates from Golden Entertainment or 2) a visit from their lawyers.

8. Lucky Dragon’s Up for Sale

The Lucky Dragon is a quirky, Asian-themed hotel-casino that’s been waiting for fortunes to change on the north Strip. Now, word is out the resort is up for sale, and while there hasn’t been a flood of interest to-date, that’s likely to change as things pick up in the vicinity.

Lucky Dragon

One of the few resorts in Las Vegas that comes with its own dragon.

9. MGM Resorts Festival Grounds to Get New Life

While the clusterful Rock in Rio USA music festival was a financial disaster (it won’t be back), the site is primed to be an in-demand outdoor concert space at the intersection of Sahara and Las Vegas Boulevard. We’ve already heard MGM Resorts has nabbed an expansion of the San Diego-based Kaaboo Music Festival, and other new events seem inevitable. More visitors means more hotel occupancy, more room revenue means more investment and newness. Good times lie ahead on the north Strip, mark our words.

MGM Resorts Festival Grounds

This site is going to make beautiful music again in the very near future.

10. Alon Site Up for Grabs

The Alon (pronounced AY-lawn) resort project folded because it never got its promised financing (the announcement of Wynn Paradise Park was the nail in the project’s coffin), but the 35 acres of prime real estate are up for sale for $400 million. Expect the explosion of growth on the north Strip to spark a sale, and if all goes well, a new casino resort will spring up on the former New Frontier site.

Update (12/6/17): We’re hearing Wynn Resorts has purchased the Alon site, development is likely.

Alon Las Vegas

We spend far too much time taking photos of empty lots. Well, the Alon site won’t be empty a lot longer.

Bonus: Sands Concert Venue in the Works

Some might not consider this planned venue part of the north Strip (it will sit behind Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo Convention Center), but its scope is big enough to tip The Strip in that direction. Las Vegas Sands and Madison Square Garden are partnering to build a concert arena with a capacity of 18,500. It’s being described as the “world’s largest venue built specifically for concerts and live entertainment.” Construction starts in June 2018 with an eye toward completion in 2020. More things to do. More money. More OMG.

Sands music venue

Behold the future site of another huge new in Las Vegas.

You can call it “critical mass” or a “tipping point,” but there’s no denying the north end of the Strip is about to experience an unprecedented boom, and that irreversible momentum is destined to transform Las Vegas forever.

We’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you agree with us.

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  • Opinion

    I’m still not convinced the All Net Resort/Arena isn’t a pipe dream.

    • mike__ch

      Yeah, I don’t see it either. MSG West is also pretty far away from the hotels, given that (if I remember this right) it exists in a weird plot of land that Wynn and Adelson both bid on and wound up splitting into a weird jigsaw arrangement.

      I don’t know if MGM will reopen or repurpose the concert site of last months incident, but I don’t see the company running two outdoor concert venues at the same time that two concert-capacity arenas exist in the city AND the MSG thing. There just isn’t that much need for large-capacity stages.

      • I’d typically agree, but my guy says full steam ahead. I’ve learned to trust his tips, as he has a perfect record to-date. My nagging skepticism is still in effect, but would love to see a big project get going on that site.

        • russellmorgan

          Wait, are we talking full steam ahead on All Net, or full steam ahead on Venetian Square Garden? Or both?

          • mike__ch

            As we saw with observation wheels, all companies involved will just go ahead on doing their own thing as if the other ones don’t exist, and then pull up stakes when either funding collapses or someone else finishes first and they see the market dry up. (It would sure be nice if Clark County was a little less free-wheeling and a little more master-planned when it came to the Strip, but oh well.)

            All-Net is just the most over-the-edge case of this given that they want to build a thing that someone else completed and opened already.

  • Rooster

    Fountainebleau – No casino? No care…

    It is great to see the North end of the strip coming back to life though!

    • Brian Bijan

      Personally wouldn’t stay there without it having a casino, but yes it would bring the life back to the area with all the foot traffic.

      • Agree. I rarely visit or write about hotels without casinos.

        • double.down.now

          Me too! Hotels without casinos are B-O-R-I-N-G!

  • JeffinOKC

    NBA isn’t coming to Las Vegas within the next 15 years, IMO.
    First off, it traditionally takes about 10 years for a city to fully absorb a new league of the Big 4 (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) due to the civic infrastructure and revenue stream costs, etc. Las Vegas was incredibly fortunate in getting the NHL and NFL within 5 years, and the risk is still great.
    Second, finding a team is daunting. The most likely scenario is expansion, and Seattle is all but promised the first expansion team. Leagues usually expand by two, so the only option would be the second team in an NBA expansion. There a lot of cities want in the NBA. Competition gonna be very tough. Don’t even think about relocating an existing team. After Seattle lost the Sonics to OKC, and Sacramento stepped up to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle, it has become relocation is a dead subject in today’s NBA.

    • John Godfrey

      I heard a rumor that the NBA might play 40-60 games at TMobile. A revolving schedule each team giving up a home game or two. To try it out, no one in Vegas has healed from that all star weekend.

      • Coop

        I like this idea. Drawing fans into town from all over the country. An out of town team may see more “bodies” in the seats than their home games. Attendance is way down at all sports venues. Even the mighty NFL.

      • That’s intriguing. Thanks for sharing the info.

        • John Godfrey

          Anytime.

    • I hear you, but it will be much, much sooner.

      • JeffinOKC

        NBA ain’t interested in Las Vegas. Las Vegas is interested in the NBA. NBA is the coolest trophy property on earth, and every freshly minted billionaire is claiming they are “this close” to closing on a deal for a franchise. If they can’t buy into the NBA they are claiming to be “looking at the Bellagio”.
        The NBA likes Las Vegas and is perfectly happy to vacation there; summer league, WNBA, USA basketball practices, etc. And the idea of a 40 game “Showcase Series” sounds good, but, the NBA sells every seat to every game in every city. A city that paid for their arena on the taxpayer dime. I don’t see many teams being willing or able to give up 1 or 2 home dates (and every team would have to give up at least 1) and the revenue it brings to their city in order to have the series. Or, how does having those games in Las Vegas benefit the NBA and their teams?
        Off the top of my head, Louisville and Kansas City are two places that have NBA ready arenas built and waiting for the league. I’m sure there are a half dozen cities that have the size and facilities and are ready to pay dearly for the privilege of subsidizing a billionaires play toy, which also happens to transform the image of the city and elevate it’s status in the eyes of every mover and shaker in America. OKC is the prime example of that. 10 years ago we are a oil town trying to get attention, got an NBA team and now we are a forward looking city on the plains (with idiotic state government).
        Las Vegas doesn’t need to pay for the sex appeal the NBA can provide. They have it in spades.

  • Mike L

    About to explode!? Hello, NSA that’s Scott, S-C-O-T-T Roeben, R-O-E-B-E-N.

    • Photoncounter

      They already know a considerable amount about him. That big building in Utah wasn’t built to spy on the Russians or Chinese…

      • Manybar Goatfish

        I had Scott figured for an NSA operative himself, and this blog an NSA tool for gathering the final puzzle pieces needed to put the clamps on the most extreme haters of parking fees in the world. And somehow we all (all seven of us) keep falling into the same trap. I’ll have another, bartender.

    • Funny. They know me. They know ALL OF US.

      • Mike L

        Scott, I bought a Groupon for Axehole in Neonopolis but am unable to travel right now due to an illness. I’m not going to be able to get there again until June/July and it expires on March 28th. Is there any way to post it on here or do you know anyone interested? It’s for “60-Minute Axe and Spear Throwing Experience and Smash Box for Two with Two Specialty Upgrade Items”. I got it for a good discount on black Friday and am willing to trade it for a $25 Amazon gift card. Thanks in advance.

  • LasVegasDJPros

    I met a gentleman that was just hired in the marketing department of fountaine bleau, he said construction has already started(I heard a jackhammer as I drove by) and that it will take 2 years to complete.

    • Thanks for the info. Great news on the jackhammer, and I’ve also heard that construction will continue on that Venetian tower.

  • briandtw

    I don’t see how the math works on Fontainebleau (or whatever it ends up being called) without a casino. They’ve already sunk $600M with about another billion or so to go to finish it, so it’s just going to be a $1.6B hotel with an enormous lobby? Even if everything else breaks right for the north Strip — convention center expansion finishes on time, Resorts World actually gets built, etc. that seems like a ridiculously huge investment to be earned back with just a hotel in a city that may end up oversaturated with hotel rooms again in 3 or 4 years.

    • Principal Victoria

      The REIT that bought Fountainbleu will likely lease out a portion of the property to another company, like how 4 Seasons rents space from the Mandalay, or how W rents out space from the SLS, or how Hilton Grand Vacations owns timeshare units inside the Trump hotel.

  • Bouldersteve

    Cannot agree with 6, 7 and 8.According your latest tweet the SLS sale is dead. The sale of the Lucky Dragon is a fire sale.. ownership is not the issue. Same thing with the Stratosphere.While it’s in better shape it’s just a merger. Better economics but I don’t anticipate major changes

  • FYMYAWF

    Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, I’m happy to jump on the hype train again, but this train has been “hypeing” for years now. Alon was going to happen, then it didn’t. Resorts World was supposed to be damn near open by now, it’s still steel girders and one sad sheet of glass. SLS was going to transform the north strip, yeah no. Lucky Dragon was going to do…something, yeah no.

    I do agree though that one key cog in all this is the convention center expansion. Once that’s truly underway and close to done, there will be the impetus and need for an arena or two and a new hotel or two.

    The other key cog? No downturn. 2008 happens again and this all turns to dust. ALL of it.

    • It’s fair to be skeptical. I think it’s all happening at once and soon, so we’ll see.

  • Tommy Vercetti

    I don’t know,it may be me but the words ” More bodies” associated with an MGM owned open space it’s disturbing. You guys should change it to ” more people”.

    • Hadn’t gone there at all, but appreciate the feedback and I changed the wording in the story. Much appreciated.

    • Coop

      I understand your concern but don’t let them win. Nobody made this connection until you mentioned it. Now we are all thinking of tragedy again. God Bless the families.

  • Tommy Ursano

    How many 18,000 person arenas does the city need? Seriously though, is there justifiable demand for THREE of those type of building (in addition to a plethora of smaller ~10K sized buildings). Outside of having a permanent tenant like a pro sports franchise, would those buddings really get used enough?

  • William Wingo

    Even if Fountainebleau had a casino, if would probably offer 6-5 Blackjack with eight-deck shoes and 7-5 JoB Video Poker. No great loss.
    I predict that when they go broke, Icahn will buy it back for pennies on the dollar and then sit on it for another ten years.
    How did I get so cynical??? It must have been Watergate.

  • Adam

    If the NFL ever wanted to host a Super Bowl in Vegas, it would need a hotel without a casino. Hence, the Fountain Blue. And I believe Marriott is one of their partners.

  • Manybar Goatfish

    “Ownership of SLS is just one of the big changes coming to the north Strip, so bid farewell to this goofball.”

    Don’t be so sure the Goofball is going away. My guy says the new owners will add the other members of the Goofball family to the current Goofball display. My guy has never been right about anything, but he was wearing his trench coat when he told me this, which is an undeniable “my guy” signal that this is the real scoop.