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Say goodbye to the Tropicana. Here’s what happens before doors lock

The Tropicana will close its doors Tuesday, two days shy of the 67th anniversary of its opening.

The current owners and operators of the 1,467-room South Beach-themed resort plan to provide 9 acres of its 35-acre campus for a 33,000-seat, $1.5 billion Major League Baseball stadium for the relocating Oakland Athletics.

The Tropicana’s biggest fans are saddened by the loss of what, in its heyday, was revered as much as Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Wynn Las Vegas are today. Many plan to gather and celebrate, from attending private parties to comedy shows, at the property during its final days.

“It’s just sad,” said former Tropicana golf course pro Billy Andrews.

Yes, golf pro.

In the 1970s, the Tropicana was the place to go for golf on the Strip with an 18-hole course where the MGM Grand now stands.

“You know, it’s gotta happen. It is a really nasty hotel now, but I was there during the Tropicana’s heyday when the first tower was built and then the second tower and all.”

It’ll also be a sad day for Scarlett Grable, a former Folies Bergere showgirl who will attend a production show company reunion Saturday night and met up with other former dancers, an informal sisterhood of performers to get one last look at the showroom and dressing rooms.

Now, the Tropicana and its legion of former workers and friends can only count down the hours until the doors are locked and a 10-foot demolition wall is erected around the perimeter, one of the first official actions being taken to transform the existing property into a stadium.

The end has been carefully mapped out.

An orderly shutdown

Monday will be the last complete day of gaming for the Trop. The Nevada Gaming Control Board says the Tropicana has 600 slot machines, 19 table games and one card game in operation.

Many of those slot machines are expected to be decommissioned prior to the floor’s closure at 3 a.m., Tuesday.

Casino operator Bally’s hasn’t said whether there will be any ceremonial events, such as a final craps dice roll, a last roulette spin or an ending deal of a blackjack game.

In an interview earlier this month, Ameet Patel, senior vice president and western region manager for Bally’s, said he expects the slot machines and table games will be redistributed among Bally’s 15 other properties nationwide.

Tropicana executives have met with Gaming Control Board agents to plan the shutdown and Control Board Chairman Kirk Hendrick, who plans to be there to see the gaming floor’s closure, said board agents will be available to assist in the closure as needed.

Hendrick said the Tropicana shutdown is considered a “temporary closure” because Bally’s eventually plans to reopen in some capacity.

“Anyone who’s a current licensee requesting a temporary closure has to submit a plan to the Gaming Control Board,” Hendrick said in an interview, “and that plan includes things like how do they shut down all of the devices, how do they close the games, how do they do a drop and count? How do they close the cage? How do they securely move the money? How do they close the actual physical being of the property?”

Hendrick said while he is forbidden by law to talk specifically about any particular casino closure, he said most shutdowns generally involve the presence of audit and enforcement officers to answer questions and assist in the process.

He said a 3 a.m. shutdown is a good time because casinos often perform their counts daily after midnight anyway.

Workers will secure cash and chips and perform their final counts before making sure all the slot machines are shut off.

Food and beverage closure

The Robert Irvine Public House will have its last breakfast seating sometime Tuesday morning and Trop Coffee will brew its last servings.

Between 5 a.m. and noon, the last guests will check out of their rooms. Tropicana had a late surge of guests who wanted to spend a final night at the hotel. Guests paid around $200, three to four times more than the average room rate, for the privilege of staying there earlier in the month. Nightly rates climbed to nearly $500 a night for the final five days.

The last guests will check out by noon and won’t have the distraction of a slot machine to delay their departures.

By noon, security officers will begin clearing the hotel and doors are expected to be secured by 1 p.m.

Those who love the Trop will have said their last goodbyes.

Fans say farewell

Aaron Eggers, who attended high school in Las Vegas and, in the ‘90s, would make his way with his friends to the glass elevators in one of the Tropicana’s hotel towers and ride it to the top, then down to pool level where he and his pals were too young to enjoy the novelty of swim-up blackjack that was offered in the pool area.

“It was always great to culminate the descent to the sound of ‘Swim. Up. Black. Jack.’ I can still hear it vividly in my mind today,” he said.

Boston resident Al Siciliano, who considers himself a Tropicana superfan with dozens of visits to the resort over the years, still holds out hope that the Tropicana can somehow be saved.

The Trop is beloved to him because he once stayed in Room 1839 there, used that number for a Massachusetts Lottery entry and won $8,000.

While most of the final plans for the Tropicana have been made, there are still some unknowns for the future.

Bally’s officials have not explained how a stained-glass canopy over the main casino could be saved.

Uncertain future

The property’s executives told the Gaming Control Board that it is working with the Neon Museum and other entities to preserve some of Tropicana’s history.

But museum officials had no comment about the stained-glass canopy when called.

Art preservationists say saving the glass would be an expensive undertaking, but no one seems to want to say if and how it would be rescued from the wrecking ball.

Bally’s is already in a tight financial situation. Last week, Moody’s Investors Services, a national credit-rating company, downgraded Bally’s and S&P Global Ratings, earlier in the month, gave it junk-bond status.

Bally’s largest shareholder, Soo Kim, and his Standard General hedge fund offered to buy the company’s remaining stock for $15 a share, around half the amount Kim offered in a similar takeover bid in 2022. An independent committee is evaluating the offer.

What is finally determined on Bally’s ownership and the company’s relationship with landlord Gaming & Leisure Properties Inc. and the Oakland A’s will determine what happens next for the Tropicana.

What’s known for sure is that the storied property will shut its doors for good Tuesday. If a new resort is constructed, it will be called Bally’s Las Vegas, executives said.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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