Forever Doomed Or On It’s Way To A Comeback? What Lies Ahead For The Future Of Las Vegas
To say that Las Vegas is going through a tough time would be putting it lightly. With the lion share of the city’s economy built on tourism, gaming, and conventions, the coronavirus pandemic has hit the City of Sin particularly hard.
Indeed, the statistics paint a grim picture:
- 42.5 million visitors came to Sin City in 2019, versus 17.7 million in 2020.
- The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority projected $200 million in losses from room tax revenue in 2020.
- MGM Resorts, the parent company of the Bellagio, Luxor, and seven other Strip properties, reported a $495 million operating loss in Q3.
But perhaps the most striking statistic of all comes from the Nevada Resort Association. The group estimates that the battered hospitality industry will cost the Southern Nevada economy an estimated $38.9 billion.
While it’s certainly a tough time for Las Vegas, not everything is gloom and doom. Sectors like technology, retail, and software services continue to grow. Plus, unemployment continues to drop from a record-high of 34.2% in April.
And then there’s the fact that Vegas has been in tough spots before. The city, whose economy is largely based on discretionary spending, has more experience weathering boom-and-bust cycles than most other metropolises.
In fact, one Las Vegas journalist said “this community’s ability to adapt, especially in the hardest of times, is unmatched.” He went on to say that “these unpredictable times are a moment for rebirth and to reach new heights through bold visions rooted in the DNA of Vegas.”
So while the city won’t see a return to 2019-level profits until 2022 or 2023, Las Vegas is already hard at work, getting ready for its eventual comeback.
Read on to see what’s in the works for in 2021 and beyond.
Construction For The Future Of Las Vegas
Wherever you go, construction is almost always a sign of a strong economy, and that’s certainly the case for Las Vegas. Sure, the pandemic has slowed some projects down and postponed others, but even as you’re reading this article, something is being built in Las Vegas.
Read on to learn about the most exciting projects happening in Vegas now.
Elon Musk’s Vegas Loop Tunnel
Elon Musk’s revolutionary underground Vegas Loop Tunnel may be one of the most exciting construction projects in Vegas—perhaps ever.
Musk’s tunneling company, The Boring Co., is already in the final stages of construction of a 0.8- mile underground tunnel system linking the Las Vegas Convention Center Campus. The tunnel sits unused due to COVID-related closures, but once open, promises to be a massive time-saver for convention-goers.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Musk proposed a 4.6-mile tunnel addition to the Las Vegas City Council in December. According to Musk’s proposal, the tunnel would operate as a counterclockwise circuit running north under Las Vegas Boulevard to the downtown resort corridor, then south on Main Street.
Permits and licensing are still in the works, but the city council voted unanimously to approve the measure. The city’s resort community also supports the project, as it would link attractions like the Downtown Container Park to classic casinos like the Golden Nugget. There are also proposed stops at the Arts District and the Stratosphere tower.
The final plan is years away, but some observers are already dreaming of what the tunnel system could mean for Las Vegas transportation. If this initial expansion is successful, it could be the start of an extensive system that would connect McCarran International Airport with the Strip, reducing the journey from one hour to just seven minutes.
MSG Sphere at the Venetian
Just when you thought Vegas architecture couldn’t get any more radical, a project like the MSG Sphere comes along.
The unique music and entertainment dome was first announced in February 2018, with its grand opening planned for 2023. When it opens, it promises to be a one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art entertainment venue.
It will have several defining features, including a 160,000-square-foot LED screen, an infrasound hepatic flooring system, and a beam-forming sound system. What’s more, there will be 1,100 Wi-Fi access points, allowing audience members to tweet, post, and share their experience in real time.
But what does all of this technology mean for visitors? For starters, the screen will be the world’s largest and highest-resolution screen. The flooring system is equipped with deep vibrations to help guests “feel” the experience, while the sound system will direct audio in locations throughout the sphere. In other words, audience members on one side of the sphere will hear something different from those on the other side.
The Sphere will seat 17,500 people and will have a total capacity of 20,000 with standing places included. It will also feature a 1,000-foot-long pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Sands Expo, directly adjacent to the Venetian.
The future of Las Vegas never looked or sounded so good.
Resorts World Las Vegas
Another construction project we’re keeping our eyes on is Resorts World Las Vegas. The complex will feature three Hilton brands—Hilton Hotels & Resorts, LXR, and Conrad. Together, the three properties will add 3,500 rooms to the Strip.
In addition to guestrooms, the complex will feature incredible nightlife, globally-inspired cuisine and cocktails, star-studded residency performances in its 5,000-capacity theater, a curated selection of retail boutiques, and a technologically-advanced approach to gaming.
As if that weren’t enough, the complex will contain 350,000 square feet of meeting and convention space, seven pools, and a 75,000-square-foot day and nightclub.
Resorts World takes the place of the iconic Stardust Resort and Casino, which was demolished in 2007. Originally conceived as a “Chinese-themed” resort, the newest version is a toned-down version with Asian-inspired touches.
The opening was scheduled for late 2020, but was postponed to summer 2021 due to the pandemic.
Virgin Hotels Take Over The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
When the world-famous Hard Rock Hotel & Casino closed its doors last February after 25 years in operation, Virgin Hotels swooped in to take over the property.
The off-Strip building will have a modern desert design and will include 1,504 rooms, an expanded casino, 14 renovated restaurants, and two entertainment venues.
What’s more, the hotel will feature 110,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a five-acre pool, and an entertainment complex.
The Virgin Hotel was originally scheduled for a January 2021 opening, but plans are on hold “indefinitely” due to the pandemic.
Entertainment And The Future Of Las Vegas
More Sports Teams
Vegas was long-known as a big city without any professional sports teams, but that’s changed in the past five years. Sin City is now home to the Vegas Golden Knights (an NHL team), the Las Vegas Aces (a WNBA team), and the Las Vegas Raiders, an NFL team recently relocated from Oakland.
Vegas executives are optimistic that adding professional sports teams will attract fans to the city and help with Las Vegas’s growth. As a matter of fact, Allegiant Stadium, the 65,000-seat home of the Raiders, is projected to add 1% to Vegas’s tourism volume alone.
Residencies, Shows, And More
After months of cancelled shows and shuttered theaters, the future of entertainment in Las Vegas is probably one of the things people are most curious about. And while vaccines are the first step towards welcoming big crowds again, insiders are sure that entertainment offerings will adjust according to the new normal in the coming months and/or years.
For example, audience members will likely wear face coverings and be spaced apart during shows. Performers may also have to revise their acts in order to maintain social distancing on stage. But adapting to new (and hopefully temporary) regulations could also accelerate an entertainment trend that was already well underway pre-COVID.
It's a trend that some are calling a throwback to the Vegas of old, with its lounge acts and dinner shows. Indeed, a variety of live entertainment has sprouted up in smaller venues like restaurants, bars, and clubs over the past decade. These shows will help fill the void left by stadium and amphitheater closures, at least for the time being. But there’s a good chance they’ll last, even after COVID becomes a thing of the past.
Hybrid shows are another possibility going forward. In this model, big-name performers will perform live for smaller groups while the show is streamed simultaneously for a lesser fee. This model is particularly attractive, as some experts expect these shows could generate as much revenue as filling a larger venue.
The Future of Las Vegas Is Bright
The future of Las Vegas is bigger and brighter than ever.
The past year has been tough on Las Vegas, and even though the city continues to open up little by little, things probably won’t look “normal” for another year or two. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s proof of the city’s strength.
Construction is humming in the background, sports teams are training, and entertainers are gearing up for their eventual return. Yes, things are different in Vegas right now, but everyday thousands of Las Vegans are working tirelessly to bring the city back to life even better than before.