MORE VEGAS INFO
VEGAS4VISITORS.COM WEEKLY COLUMN BY RICK GARMAN
May 28, 2012
Wayne Newton Sued; Estate Tour Put on Hold
After the loss of the Liberace Museum last year, those of us who craved a bit of classic Vegas glitz (with a healthy dose of cheese) were thrilled with the announcement that Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton, would be opening up his estate for tours.
It appears, however, that we may not get our return of glitzy Las Vegas cheese anytime soon. The developer of the project, CSD, LLC, has filed a lawsuit against the singer and construction has halted.
To understand the lawsuit you have to understand the deal that was allegedly struck between CSD and Newton. The company bought the estate from Mr. Las Vegas for $19.5 million and planned to spend another $30 million to turn it into a major Vegas tourist attraction. The centerpiece would be the main house, a palatial mansion with a decor scheme that rivaled Liberace's for its extravagance but the facility would have also included various animal exhibits including one for his prized Arabian horses and another of the penguin ponds; a theater where Newton would perform; a classic car museum; a memorabilia museum; and a Wayne Newton themed car wash.
Yes, a car wash. See what I mean about glitzy cheese?
Part of the deal also included building a second house on the property that Newton, his wife, and his mother-in-law could all live in while the main house was being worked on.
CSD's lawsuit contends that Newton and his family refused to move out of the main house and have been unwilling to turn over the memorabilia needed to start creating the exhibits. They also say that the property was in a much worse state of disrepair than they believed. Even more explosively, they allege that Newton made working conditions at the property impossible by sexually harassing at least one female employee and by letting vicious dogs freely roam the property.
Newton's lawyers, unsurprisingly, say the whole lawsuit is a bunch of bunk and that CSD's allegations are completely false. They contend that the lawsuit was filed as a preemptive strike because they found out that Newton was planning on suing them for breach of contract alleging that various construction and permit issues are the reasons the project has ground to a halt.
Backing up Newton's version of things is a partial owner of the museum and a partner to CSD.
Regardless of who has the truth on their side, the project is most likely on life-support at best and dead at worst. The best case scenario is that the lawsuits get settled quickly and construction resumes but even then the chances that the estate would open to tourists this year are slim. And with the vitriol that seems to be flowing in both directions, the chances of a quick settlement are even slimmer. The worst case scenario is that the project is locked up in litigation for years, which would not only prevent the current developers from finishing but would keep anyone else from stepping in.
So, it appears for now that if you want glitzy Las Vegas cheese you are going to have to find it somewhere else.
Skyvue vs. the High Roller: Which Will Win?
The press release that went out last week touted the completion of the first phase of Skyvue, a 500-foot tall observation wheel being planned for the southern end of The Strip across the street from Mandalay Bay. That first phase primarily involved the building of the support towers that would hold up the wheel with the second phase involving the retail and restaurant center going in at the base of it.
The release did its job. It got picked up in virtually every Vegas related news outlet and blog and even made its way into major media outlets around the world.
But why send out a press release saying, essentially, "we're building the thing"? It's simple: a lot of people still don't believe it's really going to ever get completed and even if it does that it will pale in comparison to the other massive observation wheel, the High Roller, being built up the street behind The Flamingo by Caesars Entertainment.
Questions have abounded since the dueling wheels were announced including whether or not Skyvue's developers had all the financing in place. Regardless of the financials, Skyvue is moving forward - or rather, upward - and it appears that by 2013 visitors will have two options for their high altitude sightseeing.
So which will win? Or is there room enough in this town for two giant observations wheels?
The High Roller certainly has more going for it, at least on paper. The location is better, with Center Strip foot traffic being driven to it through Linq, the entertainment complex of bars, restaurants, and stores going into a former alley space between The Flamingo and Imperial Palace. It also wins the "bigger is better" contest, measuring in at some 50 feet taller than Skyvue. High Roller's design is also more interesting, at least according to the artist renderings. Whereas Skyvue has fairly traditional capsules integrated into the wheel, The High Roller has pods that stick out from the wheel offering unobstructed views in almost all directions once you get to the top.
On the other hand, Skyvue will probably have the better overall views. Positioned at the end of The Strip it will have some incredible sightlines of most of Las Vegas Boulevard and the airport while at least part of High Roller's journey will be looking at the parking garages behind the east Strip hotels.
I think a lot of it will depend on who gets to the market first and what the pricing will be. If Skyvue opens first and keeps its ticket costs under the $30 mark it could have enough momentum to keep it going. If the High Roller opens first and/or if they have a lower ticket price, it's going to be hard for Skyvue to compete.
Both wheels are expected to open sometime in the summer or fall of 2013.
Vegas4Visitors Weekly Awards
The Picture of the Week Award goes to the artist rendering of the upcoming SLS Vegas hotel, which is the new incarnation of the old Sahara on the north end of The Strip. If all goes according to plan the SLS will be open by 2014.
The Get Well Soon Award of the Week goes to Elton John, who had to cancel several Las Vegas performances at Caesars Palace after being hospitalized in Los Angeles for a respiratory infection. The singer is expected to be back pounding the piano soon.
The Luckiest Six Cards on the Planet Award of the Week goes to Dennis Hart of Palm Coast, Florida, the latest winner of a million dollars in Caesars Entertainment's six-card bonus version of Three Card Poker. Hart won the million at The Flamingo last week after lining up the A-K-Q-J-10-9 of diamonds between his cards and the dealer's.
The Where's the $ Award of the Week goes to "Vegas," the new TV show starring Dennis Quaid coming to CBS this fall. Quaid plays a fictionalized version of real-life Vegas sheriff Ralph Lamb, a former rancher who helped battle the mob. Check out the preview in the player to the right.
The Idiot of the Week Award goes to Michael Q. Belton, a California man who tried to rob a gaming table at Bellagio last week but only made it about 10 yards before he was tackled by casino employees. Belton says he was lured into the scheme by two other men he met on Craigslist.
Casino Heists: Has Anyone Ever Gotten Away With It?
As the incident at Bellagio last week shows, attempting to rob a casino is a spectacularly bad idea. I'm not suggesting that robbing any kind of establishment is a good idea, but robbing a casino, with its omnipresent cameras and security, is destined for failure.
Or is it?
While most smash and grab type casino robberies usually end up with the hapless suspect in handcuffs, there have been a few slightly more well-thought out schemes that people have gotten away with.
In 1992 a casino employee at the Stardust named Bill Brennan very casually walked out of the place with an estimated $500,000 in cash and gaming chips. The robbery was probably most remarkable for its complete lack of any kind of drama. Brennan just loaded up a back pack and walked out and was never seen again.
Half a million dollars is also the approximate haul from a 2008 robbery at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book. Two armed suspects wearing motorcycle helmets walked in and out in less than a minute and have never been caught.
Perhaps one of the most storied of casino robberies happened at Circus Circus in 1993. A man and woman stole an armored car from in front of the hotel with an estimated $2.5 million inside. The woman, Heather Tallchief, turned herself in after 13 years on the run saying that her partner, Roberto Solis, took all the money and left her penniless. Solis is still at large.
Lucky 7: Attractions I Miss in Vegas
I've been going through some old Vegas4Visitors files and came across some long gone favorite attractions that I still wish were around.
Caesars Magical Empire
Casino Legends Hall of Fame
Speedworld at Sahara
Treasure Island Pirate Battle
Wet n' Wild
Lucky 7: Attractions I Don't Miss in Vegas
While there are many that I wish were still around, there are quite a few attractions that I don't miss at all.
Cranberry World West
Guinness World Records Museum
Luxor 3-D Rides
Mirage White Tiger Habitat
Star Trek: The Experience