Downtown Grand Redefines Disappointment With Bland Grand Opening

We’re starting to wonder if the new Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino even knows it’s in Las Vegas.

After a three-week soft opening, Downtown Grand hosted a grand opening and ribbon cutting on Nov. 12, 2013, and we’re not exaggerating when we say the event was the most disappointing thing to happen in Las Vegas since the last time someone had sex with us.

We needed a cocktail, too.
We needed a cocktail, too.

We can’t imagine Downtown Grand spent more than 30 minutes planning its grand opening, and estimate they spent no more than $300 on the festivities. “Festivities,” of course, should be in quotation marks.

The fizzle-over-sizzle grand opening commenced with a high school marching band. Few things go together more awkwardly than casinos and children.

Downtown Grand grand opening
Nothing says “responsible gaming” like inviting a bunch of kids over to your new casino!

No, really, Downtown Grand. Stop using kids to market your casino, thanks.

That was it for the entertainment. Seriously. No fireworks. No sexy construction workers to play off the hotel’s allegedly “industrial chic” vibe. Nothing.

There were a few remarks by Seth Schorr, CEO of Downtown Grand. To his credit, it was actually refreshing for those of us covering the event to get a quick nap in the middle of our afternoon.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman was her usual effusive self, a bright spot in any formulaic event when mayoral Proclamations are dispensed. The mayor sang the praises of the innovation involved with this new downtown hotel, including the ability to walk up and get shaved ice. (We’re not kidding.)

We love Carolyn Goodman, and we're not just saying that because her husband knows mobsters.
We love Carolyn Goodman, and we’re not just saying that because her husband knows mobsters.

Carolyn Goodman’s quote of the day: “Hurray, and thank you CIM, the owners and Fifth Street Gaming, who’s got the heart and soul of this city by its neck.” Hey, not everyone had scripted remarks.

The one memorable aspect of the Downtown Grand’s grand opening was an appearance by the most famous mayor in the world, Oscar Goodman. As usual, it took about four minutes for the former Las Vegas mayor to get a martini after he arrived, accompanied by his trademark showgirls.

Oscar Goodman showgirls
Fact: More time was spent planning what these showgirls would wear than on Downtown Grand’s grand opening.

Oscar Goodman perked up the ears of everyone involved with Downtown Grand when his short speech.

“I have to be honest with you and tell you the truth,” said the former mayor. Why, yes, there are honest politicians, come to find out. “My office was down the street, on the tenth floor. Every single morning I would look out of my office and see this property, and I referred to it as a rotting corpse. I referred to it as a carcass. I referred to it as a blight. And each one of those references was preceded with an expletive. I hated everybody with CIM. I hated everybody that was involved with the project, because they just let it sit here and it was rotting and it was ruining all our redevelopment efforts in downtown. And then something happened. It’s a miracle.”

We honestly have never loved another human being more than former Mayor Oscar Goodman. If you haven’t read his book, you should.

So, then, there was a ribbon cutting. It was cut with tiny little scissors. What self-respecting Las Vegas hotel doesn’t even splurge for an over-sized pair of scissors for its Grand Opening?

Downtown Grand ribbon-cutting
Downtown Grand: Bringing the “meh” since late-2013.

And that was it. No Klieg lights. No singers. No hooplah.

So, we’re back to where we started. Feeling like to appreciate Downtown Grand, you have to lower your expectations.

Beyond that, it’s possible we had an entirely wrong set of expectations. Maybe a real, much better grand opening is yet to come. Maybe ribbon-cuttings exist to cut a ribbon?

We’d love Downtown Grand to succeed, and we’re happy to see a new hotel-casino offering downtown. But please, people. It’s Las Vegas. We demand flair. We demand spectacle. We demand at least a nominal amount of thought and effort. We demand grand openings that have a little more pizzaz than the opening of your typical yogurt shop.

In fact, the word “Grand” just called, and it’s re-evaluating its involvement in Downtown Grand. We’re just saying.