Riviera demolition LVCVA conventions

The Riviera on the Las Vegas Strip, in more glamorous times, hosted big-name entertainers of the 50s, 60s, and 70s such as Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Englebert Humperdinck. Now the LVCVA has decided to take it down.(Image: vintage.es)

The Riviera’s swan song is now an almost inevitable funeral dirge: the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Association (LVCVA) has voted in favor of pulling down the fabled “Riv” on the Las Vegas Strip as soon as possible.

The unanimous recommendation from an LVCVA committee on Tuesday means that the casino’s days are numbered and the demolition is all but inevitable, barring an overruling from the LVCVA board, which will meet to discuss the issue on August 11.

An LVCVA statement said a quicker demolition will mean that the space can be used for large outdoor shows and conventions, and meanwhile the powerful Las Vegas entity wants to avoid criticism for leaving a large property dormant for any length of time in a still-recovering area of the Strip.

LVCVA purchased the iconic casino, which closed down on May 4, from operator Paragon Gaming for $182.5 million earlier this year. Once demolished, the group says it plans to begin a $2.3 billion expansion of its Las Vegas Global Business District.

Faded Glamor

“The Riv” (as it’s been affectionately known for years) is one of the oldest casinos in Las Vegas that’s still standing, although this status is now temporary. It was the ninth to be built on the Strip and its first high-rise building. On April 20th, 1955, Joan Crawford was hostess at its opening night party, while Liberace provided the music.

Over the years, owners have included Meyer Lansky and the Chicago Outfit, while shareholders have encompassed Dean Martin and the Marx Brothers.

The glamor has long since faded, of course. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2010 for the second time in its history, its holding company listing $275 million in debts.

The casino had suffered from a lack of footfall in its corner of the Strip, due to the demolition of its neighbors: the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho. These properties were knocked down to make way for new constructions, all of which were stalled by the ensuing recession.

Enduring Memories

“We greatly appreciate the expressions of fondness and loyalty for ‘The Riv’ from our guests since ground first broke in 1954 and through the years,” read a statement from Paragon Gaming following the casino’s closure.

“More importantly we want to acknowledge and applaud our associates who have worked to create enduring memories for all of our guests. This is what will be remembered long after the walls have come down.”

But come down they must, and whether that be by wrecking ball or dynamite is yet to be decided, as has a date for the demolition, although it’s unlikely to happen for at least another six months.

It’s estimated, however, that the process will cost $42 million when the 23-story, 2,100-room Riviera inevitably goes the way of the Stardust, Desert Inn, New Frontier and the Dunes.