First Look: Downtown’s Welcome Arch is Fleek AF

Before you get started, we use “fleek” ironically, so get off our back.

Secondly, sorry about the “AF,” Mom.

Most relevantly, sign company YESCO (which is redundant, since “SCO” stands for “sign company”) is testing downtown’s new welcome archway.

To cut to the chase, it’s infinitely better than anyone anticipated.

Downtown Vegas arch

All due respect to Betty Willis, designer of the other welcome sign, this is pretty badass.

Not surprisingly, we’ve got the first video of this new downtown photo op!

The video was captured by loyal reader Ester Goldberg, who you may remember hosted a comedy-variety show at a north Strip casino whose name shall not be mentioned because we’re not giving them publicity anymore.

The video shows YESCO putting the arch through its paces.

Honestly, we thought the arch would pretty much just have an “on” and “off” switch.

We’ve been watching this $6.5 million project closely and previously observed the archway involves an inordinate number of bulbs.

Beyond the bulbs you can see, there are apparently thousands of LEDs embedded in the arches as well.

Let’s just say the daytime arch is just a fraction of the “wow” factor of the nighttime version.

downtown arch

As with so many things in Las Vegas, less impressive with the lights on.

The downtown Las Vegas welcome archway is going to draw a lot of eyeballs toward downtown from The Strip. It remains to be seen if those eyeballs will continue their journey downtown to drink and gamble.

Yes, the idea of eyeballs drinking and gambling is a little disturbing. You should mention it to your therapist.

No date has been set for the official unveiling of the downtown arch, but you’ll know when we do.

We’re always in the mood for some fresh Vegas bling, and the downtown welcome arch more than qualifies.

The Cal Gets a Colorful New Paint Job

The California has been going through a rough patch recently, but that hasn’t kept the downtown casino from sprucing up in honor of the arrival of a new neighbor, Circa Las Vegas.

The Cal is in the process of an exterior rejuvenation, so allow our boots on the ground to keep you in the loop on what’s up. Full disclosure: It’s impossible to find a comfortable pair of boots, so we don’t wear them. We love you, but not enough to suffer foot discomfort.

Cal paint

The Cal got a renovation inside in 2016, now the titivation moves outside. You’re welcome for the new word.

The California has gone “full Hawaiian” with its floral motif.

The Cal, of course, relies heavily on guests from Hawaii. Which sort of ties into the aforementioned “rough patch.” Travel restrictions due to the pandemic have resulted in downtown Las Vegas revenues dropping 71 percent from the third quarter of 2019. Read more.

Another Boyd Gaming casino, Main Street, has yet to reopen.

But back to the happy colors!

Cal painted

When you get a shiny new neighbor, you have to up your game.

The Cal’s signature red has been refreshed, but some new colors have been added to the casino’s palette.

We’re getting a bit of a Baskin-Robbins logo vibe, but we’re hoping somebody leaves a comment on this post that reminds us where we’ve seen this combination of orange, purple and pink.

Cal paint job

For the record, Lappert’s at The Cal has excellent ice cream.

The new flair makes the building pop, and it’s very much a response to the Cal’s new neighbor, Circa. Circa Las Vegas opened on Oct. 28, 2020, and everyone in the neighborhood is primping.

For example, Plaza, just across the street from Circa, recently replaced 9,740 bulbs in its old-school porte cochere.

Plaza lights

Plaza wants to make sure price-sensitive visitors to Circa know they’re a a short stroll away.

The Cal was starting to look a little long in the tooth, as it was built in 1975.

Artwork adoring the building has all been replaced. By “artwork,” of course, we mean “awkward attempts at art.”

One of the tile-based art pieces (pictured below) caught our eye back in 2013. We are so glad we captured it for posterity, as it’s been replaced by floriculture.

Cal mural

Don’t judge. These settlers are consenting adults.

The new paint job certainly brightens The Cal up, and longtime guests will appreciate the investment by Boyd.

Cal paint job

Hang in there, Cal. Your Hawaiian fans will be back in force soon.

Enjoy more photos of The Cal’s vibrant facelift.

Virgin Las Vegas Shares Sexy Pool Complex Pics

Virgin Las Vegas is still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dip our toes in the new resort’s pool.

Virgin released a slew of pupil-pleasing pool renderings, so let’s dive in.

Virgin Vegas pool

That’s the last of the pool puns. We don’t want you to go off the deep end.

Virgin opens Jan. 15, 2021, and the casino has already done a great job of whetting our appetite for sun, fun and liver damage.

The Virgin pool complex will cover five acres, and it’s described as a “modern desert oasis.”

It’s a little bit traditional resort pool, a little bit dayclub and a little bit event lawn.

It’s also a little bit classy.

Virgin Las Vegas pool

Some inside, some outside, some floaty thingies to rest your drinks on.

It’s probably on-brand for the Virgin renderings to be a tease. The pool won’t open until March 2021.

There’s a definite Mediterranean flair to Virgin’s planned pool area, and it will provide access to a number of new offerings at Virgin, including Olives restaurant, Casa Calavera and Kassi Beach Club.

There’s also Money, Baby, a sports-entertainment venue which will overlook the pool.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas pool

The future home of you sucking in your gut for hours on end.

A two-story Mykonos-themed dayclub will feature an open-air entertainment stage, offering elements of a music festival with the flexibility to present a variety of DJs. This would be even more impressive if we knew who Mykonos is.

Additional bars and a poolside restaurant will open in April 2021.

Virgin Vegas pool

We fully expect to chillax here, if that’s still a thing.

The event lawn will host concerts and private events, and will be a “space for guests to engage in resort activations.”

If the hotel’s former pool party, Rehab, was known for anything, it was the “resort activations,” if you get our drift.

Personally, we haven’t experienced an activiation in quite some time, resort or otherwise.

You might say we’re a virgin all over again!

We hear Virgin still has lots of surprises in store, so we’ll keep a close eye on the progress of this new off-Strip offering.

Circa Resort Opens in Downtown Las Vegas

It’s the best thing to happen to Las Vegas since thongs. Circa Las Vegas has opened downtown, and it’s straight-up glorious.

We already shared a metric hell-ton of preview photos, so check those out.

Vegas Vickie is back

Vegas Vickie’s back on Fremont and her hubby, Vegas Vic, is happier than a masochist in a cactus patch.

Circa provided all the hoopla befitting a Las Vegas casino opening celebration, and made sure to hit all the right notes, including a clever twist on a longtime Vegas tradition: The first craps roll.

Rather than inviting one Vegas heavy-hitter to roll the dice first, Circa’s owner Derek Stevens invited a gaggle of them.

Here are the folks around the Circa craps table for the first official dice roll: Ryan Growney, G.M. of South Point; Jonathan Jossel, CEO of Plaza; Scott Sibella, Pres. of Resorts World; Andy Abboud, V.P. at Las Vegas Sands; Chris Latil, Sr. V.P. of Golden Nugget; Terry Caudill, owner of Binion’s and Four Queens; Mike Nolan, G.M. of El Cortez; and Brendan Gaughan, grandson of Jackie Gaughan.

Vegas VIPs

We’re definitely not the one who’s going to point out nobody from Boyd was there. That would be awkward.

Plaza CEO Jonathan Jossel snagged the honor after a draw of cards (he got an ace), and the first roll at Circa was a six. That tidbit will win you a bar bet someday.

Circa dice roll

That’s some Vegas immortality right there.

After months of anticipation, guests finally got their first in-person look at the newest casino in Las Vegas.

Circa features what’s billed as the world’s largest sportsbook, the “country’s largest destination pool experience,” a bevy of new restaurants and lounges and Nevada’s longest bar, Mega Bar.

Here’s a quick look inside Circa.

The centerpiece of Circa is a refurbished Vegas Vickie. She looks amazing, after a three-year absence from Fremont Street, and her leg is kicking again.

Also getting some buzz is the return of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail, once so beloved at Golden Gate. Circa owners Derek and Greg Stevens also own Golden Gate (as well as The D), so it was a natural to serve up the popular treat at Circa.

There are some caveats. The 99-cent shrimp cocktail is only available from 3-5 a.m. at Saginaw’s. To get the 99-cent price, you have to purchase a meal at the restaurants.

Outside those hours, the shrimp cocktail is $11. Hey, casinos don’t subsidize restaurants anymore, so not really surprising. Anyway, it’s there for nostalgia lovers.

Circa shrimp cocktail

Die-hard Vegas fans won’t want to miss this throwback drunchies shrimpfest.

The prices overall at Circa’s restaurants provide a bit of sticker shock to downtown regulars. We trust those will be adjusted based upon demand.

In the meantime, we predict Plaza’s Pop-Up Pizza stand is going to be overwhelmed.

You know we were excited for Circa to open because we wore a tux. No, not a tuxedo T-shirt, an actual tux.

A highlight of our evening was being “tiered out.” Circa’s One loyalty club just introduced tiers, and we’re a Maverick, as if you didn’t already know that.

Here’s more about the new One loyalty club tier system.

Circa Las Vegas tiers

We didn’t need a loyalty club to confirm our Maverick status, but we’ll take it. Free parking!

It’s worth noting two of the tiers get free self-parking. Circa does not validate as The D and Golden Gate do.

Parking in Garage Mahal is $4 an hour, with a $15 daily max. (Note: Parking is $5 at Plaza next door.)

There’s one tier that hasn’t been announced yet. It’s invite only, so fancy.

Garage Mahal Circa

We love the floor numbers at Garage Mahal.

Yes, we got closer. Do you know this blog at all?

Garage Mahal

The cars in the floor number sign are vacuum-sealed for freshness.

Overall, the opening of Circa was pretty much flawless, and it was great to see the enthusiasm for this new destination in downtown Las Vegas.

Downtown needed Circa, Vegas needed Circa, we all needed Circa.

Circa uniform

Circa’s dancing dealer uniforms look amazing. Yes, we had a chaperone.

Amidst so much bad news, Circa is a ray of hope. Derek and Greg Stevens have really done it right and this shiny new adult playground surpasses all expectations.

While it hasn’t been publicly announced, our sources say Circa cost $1.156 billion, and it shows.

Circa cage

You’re not supposed to photograph a casino cage. We don’t live by society’s rules.

If you’ve got a few spare minutes, hear some exclusive scoop about how Circa became a reality from the resort’s owner, Derek Stevens.

Circa’s elevated experience, and prices, are a bridge between downtown and The Strip. There’s nothing gritty or seedy here. Circa is Strip-style gorgeous with a downtown vibe. It’s the best of both worlds.

From the jaw-dropping video screens in the sportsbook and pool complex to the dancing dealers and free pours, Circa isn’t just the dream of the Stevens brothers, it’s the dream of everyone who loves casinos and downtown.

Circa sportsbook

Circa squeezes a lifetime of sports into every visit.

Circa is a dream made real, and you’re going to absolutely love it.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Canceled for Las Vegas Strip

This pandemic is really starting to get on our last nerve.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has confirmed what many feared: Las Vegas won’t have fireworks on The Strip to welcome in 2021.

The annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display, typically attended by roughly a jillion people, has been nixed. The LVCVA says it has some “special things” planned for NYE, but let’s face it, they won’t be as special as fireworks.

New Year's fireworks

Sonofa.

In an unfortunate turn of a phrase, LVCVA president Steve Hill said, “Las Vegas has always been a bucket list New Year’s Eve destination, and we are going to make sure that remains the case.”

A pandemic is probably not the best time to be using that “bucket list” adage. Just saying.

Anyway, 2020 has scrod Las Vegas in so many ways, this is just one more slap to the nad.

Perhaps not surprisingly, upon hearing about the cancellation of New Year’s Eve fireworks on The Strip, dogs released a short statement: “We’re good with it.”

Las Vegas fireworks

This is so Photoshopped. We know, because we Photoshopped it.

While there won’t be an official fireworks display on the Las Vegas Strip, you can bet there will be ample illegal asshattery in local neighborhoods.

It’s worth noting downtown’s Plaza casino will have fireworks, albeit on a much smaller scale than visitors have come to expect on The Strip.

It’s unknown how Fremont Street Experience will handle the virtual fireworks shown each year on its Viva Vision screen.

We’ll be curious to see if off-Strip casinos also cancel their fireworks. Red Rock Station tends to have rather lavish fireworks displays. Here’s a look.

Lots of restaurants and lounges have been marketing NYE festivities, apparently undaunted by the cancellation of Strip fireworks.

While the cancellation of fireworks on The Strip is disappointing, there will still be lots of ways to ring in the new year in Las Vegas.

The celebration actually promises to be the most exuberant, ever, because while 2020 has been brutal, Las Vegas is known around the world for its happy endings.

Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo Convention Center Reportedly Up for Sale

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t possibly be jam-packed with any more WTF, Las Vegas Sands—owner of Venetian, Palazzo and the Sands Expo Convention Center—is reportedly exploring a sale of these beloved fixtures on the Las Vegas Strip.

Deep breaths.

According to Bloomberg, Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson is focusing on his true moneymaker, Asia, so he’s looking for a potential buyer for Venetian, Palazzo and the convention center.

The estimated asking price for these gems? About $6 billion.

Venetian Palazzo

We love certain kinds of change, but we’re not sure this is one of those.

Big picture, this makes a lot of sense for Sheldon Adelson, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting.

We’re personally upset because Bloomberg reported this story before us, and we’ve broken the news of pretty much every Las Vegas casino sale in the last seven years. But it doesn’t always have to be about us. Probably.

It’s also upsetting because this potential sale says a lot. As Adelson looks to Macau and Singapore, he’s taking his eyes off Las Vegas.

Venetian Las Vegas gondola

Mr. Adelson, all due respect, but now may not be the best time to rock the boat.

It doesn’t take Sheldon Adelson’s keen foresight to see the convention business in Las Vegas isn’t coming back full force anytime soon, and that has been the bread and butter for Las Vegas Sands.

Las Vegas doesn’t really work without conventions, and things have been looking undeniably bleak due to the pandemic.

Adelson’s U.S. business only accounts for 15 percent of the company’s total revenue, so a sale won’t really move the needle for the bajillionaire one way or the other.

A sale could move the needle for fans of Venetian and Palazzo, however.

These hotels are reliably ranked two of the best in Las Vegas, and a change of ownership could mean a giant question mark for visitors.

Also a question mark is what happens to the MSG Sphere if Las Vegas Sands sells its casino and convention center.

MSG Sphere

Las Vegas Sands donated land for this new entertainment venue. So many questions.

Another aspect of a potential sale: Sheldon Adelson owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. If he sells off his other business interests in Las Vegas, does he need to own a newspaper? Yes, there are still newspapers! Don’t be a smartass.

Another juicy question: If Sheldon Adelson sells off Venetian and Palazzo, what happens to his 12-plane whale delivery system and terminal at McCarran airport?

Bloomberg says the discussions of a sale are “very early” and the deal has not been finalized.

We’re actually a little unclear who might be in a position to buy these casinos at the moment.

While we love the drama of a casino sale (or two), we’re sort of secretly hoping Sheldon Adelson keeps “exploring” well into 2021 or beyond.