Tropicana Las Vegas casino that hosted James Bond in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ closes after 67 years to make room for an MLB stadium


In the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever,” James Bond sits in a swanky suit at the Tropicana Las Vegas.

“I hear the Hotel Tropicana is good,” Agent 007 says.

It was a successful day for the Tropicana. The iconic casino is frequented by the legendary Rat Pack, whose history under the band cemented its place in Vegas lore.

But after welcoming guests for 67 years, the doors of Las Vegas The Strip’s third largest casino closed at noon Tuesday and demolition is expected in October to make way for the $1.5 billion complex. Major League Baseball Stadium – part of the latest developments in the city as a sports entertainment destination.

“The time has come. It’s over,” said Charlie Granado, who has worked as a bartender at the Tropicana for 38 years, of the casino’s closing. “It makes me sad but on the other hand, it’s a happy ending.”

The population of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, was just over 100,000 when the Tropicana opened on the Strip surrounded by vast desert. It cost 15 million dollars to build three buildings with 300 rooms divided into two wings.

Its well-manicured lawn and elegant lobby have earned it the nickname “Tiffany of the Strip.” There was a large tulip-shaped fountain at the entrance, stone tiles and mahogany walls throughout.

Black and white photos from that time give an idea of ​​what it was like inside the Tropicana in its heyday, when it often had A-list stars in its showroom – from Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr.

Mel Torme and Eddie Fisher performed at the Tropicana. Gladys Knight and Wayne Newton have lived there.

In a city known for its renaissance, the Tropicana itself has changed dramatically as Las Vegas has evolved. Two hotel buildings were added in the following years. In 1979, a $1 million green and amber stained glass ceiling was installed over the casino floor.

Barbara Boggess was 26 years old when she started working at Tropicana in 1978 as a laundry room manager.

“Tropicana was about to stay here by itself,” Boggess said. “It was a desert all around. It used to take me 10 minutes to get to work. Now it takes an hour.”

Now 72, Boggess has seen the Tropicana through its many iterations. There was a 1980s remodel as “Island Las Vegas,” with a poolside blackjack table, and a South Beach-themed renovation was completed in 2011.

Today, only the lower hotel room wing remains of the original Tropicana. However the casino still evokes vintage Vegas nostalgia.

“It gives off an old Vegas vibe. When you first walk in, you see the stained glass windows and the low ceilings,” said JT Seumala, a Las Vegas resident who visited the casino in March. “It feels like you’re going to step back for a while.”

Seumala and her husband stayed at the Tropicana as a way of paying respect to the place. They roamed the casino and hotel grounds, going down random corridors and looking for meeting places. They tried their luck at blackjack and roulette and chatted with a sales server who worked there for 25 years. At the end of their stay, they threw in a few $5 poker chips to remember the casino.

Behind the casino’s opening decades ago, the Tropicana became associated with crime, mainly through the infamous gangster Frank Costello.

A few weeks after the grand opening, Costello was shot in the head in New York. Police found in his coat pocket a note with real Tropicana money. The memo also mentioned “funds that should be cut” for those associated with Costello, according to post on The Mob Museum website looking back at the history of the Tropicana.

By the 1970s, authorities investigating the Kansas City crime spree indicted more than a dozen people who conspired to extort $2 million in gambling profits from Las Vegas casinos, including the Tropicana. Cases related to Tropicana alone resulted in five convictions.

But the popular hotel-casino also saw years of success without a team. It was the site of the city’s longest-running show, the “Folies Bergere.” The topless release, sent from Paris, showed what is now one of the most famous images in Las Vegas: a sports girl with feathers.

For almost 50 years, the “Folies Bergere” consisted of fancy dress and games, original songs that were once performed by a troupe, line dancers, magic shows, singers and comedians.

Cabaret was featured in Elvis Presley’s 1964 film “Viva Las Vegas.” Magicians Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn started the show.

Today, the property at the very end of the Las Vegas Strip is crossed by the Tropicana Boulevard. It is surrounded by the towering megaresorts that Las Vegas is now known for.

But next door to the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, who moved from Oakland, California, in 2020, is the league’s first professional team, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

The football stadium planned for the ground floor of the Tropicana is expected to open in 2028.

“There’s a lot of debate about whether it should stay or go,” Seumala said. “But the thing I love about Vegas is that it always reinvents itself.”

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