- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The Riviera casino-hotel will come tumbling down but at an expected cost of $42 million and not for at least six months if a recommendation to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is approved.

The Las Vegas Global Business District Committee’s six members voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of the option.

If the full agency approves the plan at its next August meeting, the 60-year-old casino-hotel would be demolished, paved over and rented to outdoor events or conventions needing more exhibit space for some two years while the agency seeks the $2.3 billion it needs to expand its convention center to the Strip.

The demolition discussion included talks of how to mark the occasion, when it comes, of turning the Riviera into rubble.

“We could have a Mars Attacks! 2 with Jack Nicholson,” said Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, referring to the Tim Burton movie that used footage of the 1995 implosion of the Landmark hotel for the alien attack comedy featuring Nicholson playing the president.

Las Vegas Councilman Steve Ross recommended a worldwide raffle with the winner pushing the button to implode the casino-hotel.

How the Riviera will be demolished hasn’t been decided yet but the cost to pay for it has already been set aside.

Governor Brian Sandoval has tasked the newly formed Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee with looking at funding for a variety of projects, including convention space, and report back in a year with recommendations in time for the next legislative session in 2017.

An unsupported alternative for the 26-acre site would allow it to remain as-is for at least 2 ½ years at a cost of $16 million. That estimated cost didn’t account for eventual demolition, raising the total price-tag to about $48 million, said Terry Miller with Cordell Corporation, which is guiding the development for the agency.

The agency bought the Riviera for $182.5 million plus $8.5 million in transaction costs in February.

Ross also suggested that demolishing the structure sooner rather than later might also inspire something to happen at another nearby structure, the Fountainebleau, that has sat nearly built but never finished or occupied next door on the Las Vegas Strip since 2007.

The committee voted at the same meeting to recommend ditching the “global business district” name to refer to the $2.3 billion project and instead call it the Las Vegas Convention Center District.

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The story has been corrected to reflect that the name of the tourism agency is the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority not the Las Vegas Convention and Tourism Authority.


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