The Riviera to Light Up the Strip One Last Time, Demolition Scheduled for June 14

Posted on: June 11, 2016, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2016, 03:11h.

The Riviera opened in 1955 with Liberace as its resident performer. Now, 61 years later, the iconic casino resort is going out the same way it came in: with a loud bang.

Riviera demolition Las Vegas Strip
The Riviera is being demolished on June 14, removing the famed casino from the Strip after 61 years. (Image: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, June 14, the Riv’s taller 24-story Monaco Tower will be demolished around two in the morning. It will be the first of two planned demolitions, the second scheduled for August on the smaller Monte Carlo Tower.

One of the most recognizable facades in all of Las Vegas, it will be a nostalgic experience to see the Riviera fall to its knees. Sundance Helicopters, the longest-running air tour operator in Vegas, is auctioning off two seats to hover above the Riv as it implodes.

Proceeds from the auction will be donated to Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada. Bidding already eclipsed $1,000 on June 10.

As a cheaper alternative, guests staying at the Wynn Encore should have front row views of the demolition. Rooms are booking for less than $200 (life insurance presumably not included).

D-Day Blockage Fails

A petition was filed in April titled “Save the Riviera” by five area residents that sought to “legally prevent the demolition” of the famed venue, a landmark “that has stood in the Las Vegas valley for more than 60 years.”

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) purchased the Riv for $191 million in February of 2015 and has designated the acreage as the future home of the expanded Convention Center.

The LVCVA estimated that allowing the Riviera to remain standing for sentimental purposes would cost the Las Vegas economy nearly $16 billion over the next 30 years. Petitioners need 15 percent support of the last general election vote, meaning some 51,000 signatures would be required to advance the petition according to calculations by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

There’s been no formal update from the petitioners as the LVCVA moves forward. The Authority, however, has launched a campaign to preserve memories of the Riv.

Now through June 14, the LVCVA is asking for Riv fans to send in video “confessions” about their memories of the casino hotel. The clips will be included in the “What Happens Here, Stays Here Vault.”

“The Riviera Hotel & Casino has been a cherished piece of Las Vegas history,” LVCVA Senior Vice President of Marketing Cathy Tull said. “By collecting our visitors’ . . . memories, we are providing the opportunity for those moments to truly stay in Vegas forever as a part of the destination’s history.”

Little Longing Among Locals

While it will certainly seem odd to travel the Strip and not see the quintessential Riviera marquee, locals in Las Vegas, for the most part, aren’t losing any sleep over the famed venue bidding adieu.

One resident told that pretty much all their energy and outrage is being spent on the MGM parking issues, with the Riv implosion barely even a blip on their radar.

Even though locals have been given a pass through to the end of the year by MGM, the need to now scan their drivers licenses upon garage exit from any of their Strip casinos has prompted a new level of paranoia about how, when, and where all that info might be used.

On the other hand, removing a rundown casino in order to make way for new convention space is largely seen as a positive.

Perhaps that’s why the “Save the Riviera” petition has seemingly stalled, even as explosives are readied to be revved up at the Riv.