It seems that the iconic Tropicana Las Vegas casino hotel, located at the Tropicana – Las Vegas Boulevard intersection on the Las Vegas Strip, will be getting demolished to make room for a new casino hotel that will also include a baseball park.
The intersection is just a few hundred yards from Harry Reid International Airport, the main Las Vegas airport, and has a casino at each of the four corners – Excalibur Hotel and Casino, Tropicana Las Vegas, New York-New York Hotel and Casino and MGM Grand Las Vegas. Tropicana is the one closest to the airport.
All this makes Tropicana one of the most premium real estate locations in the world. The land is presently owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. that is leasing it to Bally’s Corporation, the owner and operator of Tropicana, for $10.5m annually under a 50-year lease agreement.
The two parties agreed to accept the third party, the Oakland Athletics – soon to become Las Vegas Athletics – and their new 35,000-seat ballpark that will be built on Tropicana’s present location. While Tropicana is getting demolished, a new casino hotel will be built right away.
In essence, the old Tropicana is making way for a new one that will have moved to the side just a little bit, to make room for a baseball park. People who visit the area will have a new casino to play at instead of the 66-year-old Tropicana, and the baseball fans will visit a new ballpark instead of the 57-year-old Oakland Coliseum.
The deal that’s been struck between Bally’s and the Oakland Athletics is truly one of a kind. On one hand, the 50 million people who visit the Las Vegas Strip annually will have a professional baseball team just within a short walk of the Strip. On the other hand, the baseball fans who come to watch the A’s play will have access to the best entertainment a sports fan could possibly want.
In essence, the deal brings around 2.5 million people – who usually attend the A’s home games annually – to Las Vegas. And, as Bally’s is hoping, to their state-of-the-art casino that will be right across the new ballpark and not to the other casinos that are nearby.
Bally’s President, George Papanier, said, “We are honored to have been selected to partner with the Oakland Athletics on this monumental step in helping to bring Major League Baseball to the great city of Las Vegas, and to be a part of the once in a generation opportunity of having a professional baseball team located within a short walk of the Las Vegas Strip. The Tropicana has been a landmark of Las Vegas for generations, and this development will enhance this iconic site for generations to come. We are committed to ensuring that the development and ballpark built in its place will become a new landmark.”
It remains to be seen if the Athletics fans from Oakland and the surrounding area will indeed drive or fly to Las Vegas that is 500 miles to the East. If we’ll be drawing conclusions from what happened to the other team that moved out of Oakland Coliseum, the Oakland Raiders that became Las Vegas Raiders, the attendance was just fine – helped by a huge increase of visiting fans. While home fans might be reluctant to start traveling to support their home team, it seems that it’s the visiting team fans that circle the date. And make it a Vegas trip.
There is no doubt that the new ballpark will attract more people to Las Vegas, and that they’re most likely to stay or/and grab a bite to eat at the very conveniently located Bally’s hotel-casino.
There is also a fourth party involved – the city of Oakland. For some time now, the A’s have been an unwelcome tenant at the Oakland Coliseum as the community would rather see the 140-acre site used for something else. So would various groups that are fighting to have their own project accepted. $5bn projects have been mentioned.
Since the Oakland Athletics own half of the Coliseum – the city owns the other half – all that was required was for the A’s to move. If they do, which is now almost certain, the gears will start rolling.
It’s all because the Oakland Athletics baseball team, that’s currently playing on the iconic but ancient Oakland Coliseum that also hosted the Oakland Raiders from 1995 until 2019, is in need of a new home. The lease is expiring and the city wanted the A’s out of there. Since they couldn’t find a new location in Oakland, they started searching in Las Vegas, and eventually the Tropicana site was chosen.
The Athletics started searching for a new location for their ballpark in 2005. Many proposals came and went. In 2014 the Athletics signed a new ten-year lease deal that required the team to look into a new stadium, but only in the city limits.
That’s when the real search for a site that could host a 35,000-seat baseball-only stadium commenced. Two locations were seriously considered but the deals fell through, most importantly the one regarding the Howard Terminal, and the team reluctantly decided to move to Las Vegas. Initially, the A’s were supposed to purchase land from Red Rock Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, but this was changed to Tropicana instead when that deal fell through and Bally’s pounced on the opportunity.
The seating capacity of the A’s current stadium has varied over the years and is presently up to 46,867 for baseball games, depending on configuration used. That means that the new stadium will be much smaller.
Tropicana is currently using a 43-acre site, only nine of which will be used by the new Oakland Athletics home ballpark after everything is demolished. The remaining 34 acres are therefore freed up for the construction of a new 1,500-room casino-hotel – Tropicana has 1,467 – right across the stadium.
Bally’s only acquired the operations of the Tropicana in September 2022 from Gaming and Leisure as part of a $148m deal that also involved Penn Entertainment. Meaning, Bally’s purchased a very old property, built in 1957, and is now replacing it with a brand new one, that also includes a baseball park, which should amount to a lot of walk-in customers.
The A’s wanted to build an entertainment district around the stadium that would include restaurants, retail shops and other entertainment, but this is no longer part of the project – the hotel-casino that is their first neighbour will take care of all the entertainment needs of A’s fans.
The Oakland Athletics are in a hurry as their lease deal at their current stadium is rapidly expiring, so the construction is expected to take place some time in 2024, with a planned opening date of 2027 or 2028 at latest.
No official representatives of Bally’s or the A’s have commented on the subject of deadlines, but the above timeframe is likely to be in the ballpark.
As Tropicana is getting demolished, we will write a few words about this iconic casino hotel and its troubled history that culminated with the present-day events.
In 1955, Ben Jaffe, an executive of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, came to Las Vegas and bought a 40-acre parcel at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Bond Road. Jaffe wanted to build the best hotel in Vegas, with a Cuban theme, hence the name Tropicana.
Jaffe had to sell his share almost immediately, and Tropicana changed hands numerous times in the following decades as the competition from larger casinos and hotels was stiff. Some of the new owners achieved good things for the Tropicana, as was the case with the erection of 21-story Island Tower in 1986, while some others strengthened the competition, as was the case with the closure of the Tropicana Country Club that became part of the newly constructed MGM Grand Casino.
In 2007, the most ambitious project yet was conceived by the latest in the long line of new owners – Tropicana was to become the largest casino in the world. Four new towers were to be constructed for a total of six, and the gaming space would be increased to 100,000 square feet – it is 50,000 today.
The 2008 financial crisis bankrupted everyone involved, and already in 2009 a new owner came with plans for a $165m renovation. It didn’t happen, but in 2015 an important thing did – Penn Entertainment bought everything for $360m.
Penn sold the land to its spin-off company, Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc., and in September 2022 Bally’s came along and bought Tropicana from Penn while leasing the land from GLPI.