Tropicana Las Vegas Bids Farewell, Set to Transform into MLB Hub


In luxurious trim of the 1971 film “Diamonds are Forever”, the iconic British secret agent, James Bond, finds recluse within the lavish confinements of a suite at the Tropicana Las Vegas. Reputed as a haven of comfort, he’d mention within the film, the Tropicana marked the golden era of Las Vegas, catering to legendary personas from the Rat Pack and once subject to mob-ruled operations.

Having served its purposes for 67 years with unbroken commitment, an undeniable sadness lingers as the third-oldest casino prepares its farewell to the vibrant city. By noon Tuesday, the famed doors of the Tropicana will shut close, making way for impending demolition scheduled for October. Its exit, however, is not in vain, as the site ensues construction of a $1.5 billion catapult for Major League Baseball, aligning with Las Vegas’ new stance as a sports entertainment hub.

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Long-time bartender at the Tropicana, Charlie Granado, exhales melancholy but also embraces joy as he affirms the conclusion of the casinos’ journey. He articulated, “It’s time. It’s run its course. It makes me sad but on the other hand, it’s a happy ending.”

When the Tropicana was inaugurated, the population of Clark County, inclusive of Las Vegas, had just touched the milestone of 100,000. It was a time when Las Vegas was untamed, a strip sited amidst a sprawling desert. The Tropicana, a $15 million monument of luxury, arose tall and elegant with its three stories offering 300 rooms on twin wings.

Adorned with lush lawns and a deluxe showroom, the casino earned its illustrious badge as the “Tiffany of the Strip”. Distinctively, one would come across a striking tulip-shaped fountain at the entrance, mosaic tiles and mahogany-paneled walls throughout.

Historic black and white photographs have captured and preserved the Tropicana’s nobility. They showcase the days of grandeur when the casino was a preferred stage for A-list stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Debbie Reynolds, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr. Additionally, Mel Tormé, Eddie Fisher, Gladys Knight, and Wayne Newton had residencies here.

The property has undergone myriad transformations, adding two hotel towers in later years. By 1979, a staggering green-and-amber stained glass ceiling accentuated the majesty of the casino floor. Barbara Boggess, an employee since 1978, reminisces on the solitude of the Tropicana with a surrounding desert landscape, a stark contrast to the emerging megacity.

In dimensions of nostalgia, the Tropicana still strikes a chord with the reminiscent “old Vegas vibe”. Echoing these sentiments, Las Vegas resident JT Seumala expressed how stepping into the casino was like traversing back in time.

Beneath the polished exterior of the Tropicana lies a timeline interwoven with a connection to organized crime, primarily through the notorious mobster, Frank Costello. Federal authorities probed the deep-seated elements of corruption, leading to convictions tied exclusively to the Tropicana.

Despite the turbulence, the Tropicana thrived, remaining the venue for “Folies Bergere,” the city’s longest-running show. The elaborate stage production was an embodiment of the Parisian nightlife featuring renowned icons such as Elvis Presley and magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn.

The Tropicana’s legacy will persist as an intersection bearing its name sits in its vicinity, surrounded by the stunning megaresorts that Las Vegas is famed for. Further, it shares the neighborhood with sports giants such as the Las Vegas Raiders and the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Transcending the layers of its rich past, the Tropicana is now poised to birth a world-class baseball park, projected to open its fields by 2028. As Seumala insightfully remarks, “The thing that I do love about Vegas is that it’s always reinventing itself.”