Wednesday, March 14, 2007
LAS VEGAS -- The Stardust is now just a memory.
The casino-hotel on the Las Vegas Strip was imploded early today in a hail of fireworks to make way for Boyd Gaming Corp.'s $4.4 billion megaresort Echelon.
The casino opened July 2, 1958, billing itself as the world's largest resort hotel with 1,032 rooms. It was credited with being Las Vegas' first mass-market casino, thanks to cheap rates and loss-leading food and drinks.
Bob Boughner, Echelon Resorts' chief executive, said while the Stardust was a favorite of the nostalgia crowd, it was missing out on younger patrons and those who come to Las Vegas for conventions.
For many, the Stardust represented the most accessible place to stay in a city that gives VIP treatment to the biggest gamblers. But the concept of discounting rates to keep people coming is rapidly fading from the Las Vegas Strip as many casinos nowadays make more revenue from hotel rooms, clubs, shows and cuisine than from gambling.
The implosion turned a 32-story tower, gutted to its barest concrete and steel over the past three months, into the tallest building ever felled on the Strip.
LVI Services Inc. used 428 pounds of explosives to destroy the casino's two towers. Twenty water cannons sprayed the dust cloud, which blanketed the area in gray ash, and the main drag of the 24-hour gambling mecca was temporarily shut down.
The clean up of the site was expected to take up to two months.
Over the past two decades, the property's luster began to fade. "Lido de Paris," the showgirl extravaganza that starred illusionists Siegfried and Roy for more than a decade, wrapped up in 1991 after a 32-year run.
Crooner Wayne Newton brought nostalgia back to the aging clientele in 2000 but called it a wrap in April 2005.