United States

Tropicana Las Vegas To Close Its Doors For Baseball Stadium

Tropicana owner Bally’s Corp. made the announcement Monday, saying the closure on April 2 — days before the 67th anniversary of the resort’s opening — marks the beginning of preparations for demolition.

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Iconic Tropicana Las Vegas is set to close its doors on April 2, 67 years after it first opened to the public. The closure is to pave the way for a $1.5 billion Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium that will become the new home for the Oakland Athletics, who are relocating to Las Vegas.

When the Tropicana opened its doors in 1957, it was considered a Sin City landmark, and the then lieutenant governor of Nevada famously unlocked the door, throwing away the key to symbolize the perpetuity of the establishment.

Historian Michael Green notes that the Tropicana was known for its opulence, boasting mosaic tiles, mahogany panels, and a towering tulip-shaped fountain near the entrance.

Behind the scenes, the Tropicana had ties to the mob, particularly through reputed mobster Frank Costello. The casino's history includes incidents of skimming and federal investigations into mob activities. Despite these connections, the Tropicana also enjoyed mob-free success over the years, expanding to include two hotel towers and hosting notable acts such as the long-running topless show "Folies Bergere."

Bally's Corp., the current owner of Tropicana, announced the closure, citing the MLB stadium as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity." The company's president, George Papanier, expressed excitement about the development of a new resort and ballpark, aiming to create a new landmark that pays homage to Las Vegas's iconic history.

The planned MLB stadium, backed by $380 million in public funding, received approval from all 30 MLB owners in November. The stadium is expected to open its doors in 2028, adding another significant attraction to the ever-evolving Las Vegas landscape.

The Tropicana's closure comes after Bally's and the Culinary Workers Union, representing approximately 500 workers at the hotel-casino, reached a new five-year contract agreement. The move is expected to impact the largely senior workforce at Tropicana, many of whom have dedicated decades to the establishment. As part of the new contract, employees will receive a severance package of $2,000 for each year of service.

Ted Pappageorge, the union's secretary-treasurer, expressed hope that the severance package would alleviate the challenges faced by the Tropicana's workforce during this transition. He emphasized the importance of recognizing the contributions of longstanding employees in a city where hotels are frequently bought and sold.

Rhode Island-based Bally's acquired the Tropicana in 2021 for $308 million. As the Tropicana era comes to a close, the legacy of this iconic Las Vegas establishment will be remembered as a storied chapter in the city's rich history.