The iconic Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas will permanently close on April 2, just days before its 67th anniversary. The resort’s days were numbered due to a deal its owner, Bally’s Corp., struck with the Athletics (A’s) baseball team to build its new 33,000-person ballpark at the site. The demolition phase will take about a year, after which the construction of the $1.5 billion stadium will start. If all goes to plan, the Oakland team will welcome a new Las Vegas fandom at the start of the 2028 MLB season.
Having opened in 1957, the Tropicana was one of the original resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Others from the same time period—such as the Stardust—have suffered the same fate since the turn of the century. The Flamingo, the oldest of all, still exists in name at least, though nothing of the original structure remains as of 1991.
The new A’s baseball stadium will occupy nine acres of the 35 the current casino property sits on. Bally plans to build a new resort on the remaining 26 acres. The start of the resort constriction has yet to be determined, but Bally’s says more details will come once the A’s ballpark plans are finalized.
Bally’s will relocate all bookings after April 2 and has stopped taking reservations beyond April 1. The company notified its 700 employees at the resort of the closure and said it would provide assistance for them. This includes severance packages and job opportunities at other Bally’s properties. About 500 union employees will receive $2,000 in severance for each year they’ve worked for the company. These union employees will also have a recall option, allowing for up to $15,000 in severance and a return to work at the new resort once it opens.
Bally’s bought the Tropicana from Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc (GLPI) in 2021 for $308 million. GLPI still owns the land, which Bally’s leases from it for $10.5 million annually.
Ballpark Could Attract Millions of Visitors
Bally’s estimates that the ballpark will attract 2.5 million visitors annually. That could provide a significant boost for the casino industry during slow months. Baseball season intersects with some of the slowest months for Las Vegas tourism, like July and August. The baseball team could help the tourism industry fill more hotel rooms and perhaps casino floors.
The ballpark could also help the industry meet Vegas visitors’ shifting interests. Instead of gambling, they spend more on attractions and shows, and baseball can fit into that. Many avid MLB fans are younger, meaning the ballpark could help attract more Millennial and Gen Z visitors. Capturing the attention of these younger generations has been a goal for the industry for years. According to a recent TransUnion study, there are signs of success on that front, as Millennials now dominate gambler demographics.
Furthermore, the new ballpark could also bring the MLB All-Star Game to Vegas, attracting thousands of additional fans during the slow summer months.
Other major events prove that sports can generate millions of dollars for the casino industry. In November, MGM’s President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle said he expected the Formula 1 weekend that month to bring record revenue. Meanwhile, MGM’s Chief Operating Officer Corey Sanders believes the upcoming Super Bowl 2024 will top that.
The Resort Will Be Bally’s Second Major Project
The new Las Vegas resort will mark another flagship project for Bally’s. The first is building the first casino resort within Chicago city limits, aiming to open in 2026. The Chicago property will feature a casino with 3,400 slots, 170 table games, a 500-room hotel, a 3,000-seat venue, and a convention center. Additionally, Bally’s Chicago will create thousands of permanent and construction jobs, most of which will go to minorities.
Bally’s had some hiccups along the way, mainly with the project’s site. The property will be located at the site of the Freedom West building, just north of downtown Chicago. However, construction can’t start until the current tenant, the Chicago Tribune’s printing plant, vacates the site. The earliest that can happen is July 2024, putting the 2026 opening plans at risk.
While it waits to build its permanent casino, Bally’s opened a temporary casino in downtown Chicago in September. However, the temporary location is licensed to operate until Sep. 9, 2026. That means Bally’s can’t afford any more delays, which could mean lost revenue and leaving hundreds of employees without jobs.