‘Star Trek’ attraction may find new home at Neonopolis

Don’t mourn the departed Trekkies yet.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Neonopolis developer Rohit Joshi say the defunct Star Trek: The Experience attraction at the Hilton is moving downtown.

If it works it would be the biggest resurrection since the Enterprise crew found Mr. Spock’s coffin on planet Genesis — both for the Experience show and the troubled Neonopolis development.

Goodman let the news slip Thursday morning during a chat with reporters at City Hall.

Later Joshi, developer for the struggling Neonopolis mall on Fremont Street, confirmed a deal was close.

But he clearly wasn’t prepared for the news to leak.

"You kind of shocked me," Joshi said when asked about the potential deal. "I don’t know how to respond to that."

He continued: "We are in very serious negotiations. We think it would be a fantastic addition to downtown."

Joshi also produced a bound agreement with CBS Consumer Products, the licensing division of the media giant that owns the rights to the Star Trek name, dated Monday.

Leslie Ryan of CBS said the company had no statement on the potential move.

CBS owns the costumes, rides and other hardware and intellectual property that make up the Experience.

It licensed the material to Cedar Fair Entertainment Co., to operate the Experience at Las Vegas Hilton. But that agreement ended when the show closed at the Hilton, leaving CBS free to license the material to someone else.

Cedar Fair spokeswoman Stacy Frole said the company had no involvement with the move downtown.

Star Trek: The Experience had an 11-year run at the Hilton that ended Sept. 1.

If Joshi is able to revive it downtown he will be operating an attraction that lured millions of people to Las Vegas for Star Trek rides, themed food, a museum and even weddings.

"We don’t have volcanos, we don’t have fountains, we have got to create attractions," Joshi said.

Reviving the attraction won’t be easy, though.

In addition to retrofitting space on the first floor of the mall to accommodate the rides, restaurant, museum and other show elements, Joshi would need to bring back the audience.

Even hard-core Star Trek fans say that by the end of its run at the Hilton the attraction was getting stale and needed an update.

And a new "Star Trek" movie scheduled for release in May would make the old props look even more dated by comparison.

"I think it is a mistake to take what was there and recreate it," said Anthony Pascale, editor of the Web site TrekMovie.com. "It was getting a little long-in-the-tooth."

Pascale said the version at the Hilton was aimed at a generation of Star Trek fans tuned into the series "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

"That is just part of Star Trek, not all of Star Trek," Pascale said.

He suggested a revived Experience would need to incorporate the new movie and more of the original 1960s television series which later spawned several movies including "The Search For Spock," a film that included the resurrection of Mr. Spock, perhaps the most renown Star Trek character in popular culture.

No matter how a new Experience unfolds, Goodman was clearly excited by the prospect of Neonopolis living up to its promise to attract new blood downtown, even if it becomes Nerdopolis in the process.

He practically beamed as he dropped the news on Thursday.

Neonopolis has long been viewed as a black hole in terms of development downtown.

The complex is between the east end of the Fremont Street Experience canopy and the west end of Fremont East, a bar and entertainment district that includes the El Cortez hotel-casino.

The mall has struggled to attract tenants and its lack of life has been blamed for reducing foot traffic between the canopy and Fremont East.

"It would be ironic," Goodman said of the potential for landing Star Trek. "Perhaps the most successful place downtown could be Neonopolis, even though it has been an albatross around my neck all these years."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.

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