Can Las Vegas ever be overbuilt?
By STEVE FRIESS
Every now and again, if you’re around Vegas long enough, you hear about the June 20, 1955 issue of Life Magazine with a Moulin Rouge showgirl on its cover. The issue is, to many, the “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment for Vegas journalism for the question its headline asked:
“Las Vegas—Is Boom Overextended?”
It’s a punchline to many on the Strip. Six months ago, Sheldon Adelson himself referenced it in an interview in advance of the Palazzo opening in response to my question about whether the city could be overbuilt. The implication was that almost since the dawn of the destination, naysayers have wondered whether the city could continue to sustain its own urge to constantly grow.
The reason I bring this up is because, by some quirk of fate, I found a copy of that very issue for sale for a mere $25 at the Casino Chip and Gaming Tokens Collectors Club convention at the Riviera last week. I’d bought a copy before, but it was sealed in plastic and never read; the fact that I now had a shot at another copy, unwrapped, on the exact 53rd anniversary of its publication was a minor thrill I couldn’t refuse.
It also took on more resonance this year because Vegas is in one of its worst slumps ever. Occupancy and room rates are down, gambling revenues are on track to fall for only the second time since 1970, the last time being in 2002 following 9/11.
At the very same time, the frantic building continues unabated. The various CityCenter structures, the Fontainebleau, Wynn’s Encore, Echelon and a new Caesars tower all are poised to add more than 19,000 high-end rooms to the already staggering inventory in the next couple of years. Now Adelson is looking at moving the Sands Expo Center elsewhere to make room for 7,000 more rooms, Wynn wants another 5,000 in place of his golf course, Station Casinos wants 10,000 more just west of the Strip in its Viva project and someone—maybe the Plaza folks, maybe not—is going to do something big on the former Frontier property.
Which brings us back to where Las Vegas was in 1955 when that seemingly foolish headline and article were written.Read the rest HERE