by Leo Jakobson | January 01, 2018
Given all of the recent and upcoming development projects, you could be forgiven for thinking that the big news in Las Vegas these days is all about the convention attendee.
After all, in the last couple of months, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) has announced a design for its massive, $1.4 billion expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center, which will grow to 4.6 million square feet. Caesars Entertainment raised the curtain on a $375 million convention center project that will bring a 550,000-square-foot facility to the center of the Strip.

And hot on the heels of its own major expansion of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, MGM Resorts International has announced plans to build a dedicated facility, the Esports Arena Las Vegas, at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, for the rapidly growing professional video gaming industry. That will by necessity bring with it cutting-edge internet infrastructure -- the top league's finale this year was reportedly watched by more than 46 million enthusiasts via livestreaming video.

And, oh yeah, there's that $1.9 billion football stadium going up less than a mile and a half from the Strip for the team currently known as the Oakland Raiders, which will become the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. The groundbreaking took place in November.

Still, there's a lot of news coming from the resorts on the Strip. Steve Wynn finally announced plans to build a 1,500-room hotel tower on what used to be the Wynn Las Vegas' golf course. The hotel will be next to a man-made lake so large it will have an island in the center. Caesars Entertainment is halfway through an enormous project that will see all 23,000 of its Las Vegas hotel rooms completely renovated. MGM Resorts is turning the Monte Carlo Las Vegas Resort and Casino into two new, more upscale hotels, while 1,700 of the 4,405 rooms in the iconic, pyramid-shaped Luxor are being renovated. And though details are slim, there does seem to be work starting on the gigantic but much-delayed Asian-themed Resorts World Las Vegas development.

Then there's sports. While the Strip has long played host to some of the biggest boxing matches in the world -- lately joined by Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts --the Raiders will be something of a Johnny-come-lately when they finally arrive a few years from now. In October, the Las Vegas Golden Knights, an NHL expansion team, took to their home ice at MGM Resorts' T-Mobile Arena for the first time.

Later this year, the Golden Knights will be joined at T-Mobile by the Las Vegas Aces, a WNBA franchise formerly known as the San Antonio Stars. MGM bought the team outright to bring women's pro basketball to Las Vegas. In what is unlikely to be a coincidence, the team brings with it a strong head coach with star power of his own: NBA great Bill Laimbeer, a two-time champion and four-time All-Star. As a Women's NBA coach, the 6-foot, 11-inch former center has three championships and has twice been named Coach of the Year.


Bigger and Newer Is Better
When it comes to new properties, the biggest is Steve Wynn's much-anticipated plan to turn the Wynn Las Vegas golf course into Paradise Park, a development featuring a new 1,500-room hotel tower fronting on a huge lagoon. The man-made lake will reportedly be surrounded by beaches, shopping, and dining venues, as well as carnival-style entertainment ranging from water sports, zip lines, and fireworks, to a nightly water parade of edgy floats, and a bumper car ride where players are chased by "police" bumper cars.

Then there's billionaire investor Carl Icahn's $600 million sale of the unfinished Fountainbleau casino resort building, which has sat unfinished since a 2009 bankruptcy, to a pair of real estate development and investment firms led by New York--based Witkoff. The tallest habitable building in Las Vegas (but second in height to the Stratosphere Tower), it is "ideally located on the Las Vegas Strip, directly across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, which is in the midst of a $1.4 billion expansion and renovation," said Steve Witkoff, chairman and CEO of Witkoff, in a statement this summer. "We acquired a well-designed, structurally sound, integrated resort at a significant discount. It is one of the best physical assets in the country, which is one of the reasons we were attracted to it."

Work is proceeding apace at the Park MGM and its luxury hotel-within-a-hotel, NoMad, as part of the $450 million reimagining of the Monte Carlo. Other recent renovations include the Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino, which celebrated its 10th anniversary with a $100 million renovation of all 2,496 rooms and suites. It is the first of the Caesars Entertainment properties to finish its room renovations. The Company's flagship, Caesars Palace, also finished a $100 million renovation of its Palace Tower rooms. And work is ongoing at the Flamingo Las Vegas on slightly more than one third of its 3,500 rooms. The property wrapped a renovation of its 73,000 square feet of meeting and event space this past summer.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has begun a project to renovate nearly all of its 3,027 rooms, while the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has rolled out a renovation of 640 rooms and suites. Work is also proceeding on a $146 million renovation project at the Palms Casino Resort, which was recently purchased by Station Casinos.