by Michael J. Shapiro | November 16, 2019

It's already a meetings Mecca, but Las Vegas isn't a town to rest on its laurels. New developments -- and new meeting spaces -- abound in a city that mixes hefty doses of business and fun. Among the projects on the drawing board is Caesars Forum, a $375 million conference center scheduled to open in 2020. 

The construction of Caesars Forum, a $375 million, 550,000-square-foot conference center rising just east of the center Strip, is 70 percent complete. When it opens in March 2020, the facility will offer 300,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including two 108,000-square-foot pillarless ballrooms. Two 40,000-square-foot ballrooms, high-tech boardrooms and a 100,000-square-foot outdoor plaza also are among the plans. Caesars Forum, which is being built to earn LEED Silver sustainability certification, will be directly accessible to several Caesars Entertainment properties, including the Linq PromenadeHarrah's Las Vegas, the Flamingo Las Vegas and the Linq Hotel & Casino -- a total of about 8,500 guest rooms, and within walking distance of 20,000 Caesars Entertainment hotel rooms in total. Already, more than 1 million room nights have been booked at the venue, representing more than $390 million in group business. 

As of late October, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has completed more than half of the 1.4 million-square-foot expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The new West Hall, being built in Phase Two of the expansion, will have 600,000 square feet of exhibit space, the largest column-free space in North America, according to the LVCVA. The second phase is scheduled to wrap up in Dec. 2020 - in time for the January 2021 Consumer Electronics Show. The third phase, which will renovate the existing 3.2 million-square-foot facility, will begin in the summer of 2021; the entire $1.52 billion expansion and renovation project is expected to debut in 2024. Once complete, the LVCVA will be able to handle larger shows and have the space to host several events simultaneously.

MGM Resorts International sold two properties in mid-October, the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Las Vegas and the Bellagio. The former, which first opened in 1968, was sold to Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin for $825 million. Ruffin is also co-owner of the Trump International Hotel  in Las Vegas. Circus Circus comes with a 10-acre lot for recreational vehicles as well as 37 acres of festival grounds, all on North Strip real estate. Ruffin reportedly intends to construct an entertainment venue on the festival grounds. The resort also is known for its 5-acre indoor amusement park.

Business should continue as usual at the Bellagio, on the other hand, as MGM will still operate the resort. The company has formed a joint venture with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust and will lease back the property. MGM gets a cash infusion of about $4.2 billion as a result of that deal, and a subsidiary of the company will pay an annual rent of about $245 million.

Learn about the many other developments happening in Las Vegas at NorthstarMeetingsGroup.com