The Dunes, Hacienda, New Frontier, Boardwalk, Bourbon Street, Castaways, Desert Inn, El Rancho, Aladdin, Sands and the Landmark; an infamous list for Las Vegas. This is the list of historic landmarks imploded in Las Vegas’ past. They represent the hay day of the greatest economy the country has ever seen; Southern Nevada from the late 80’s to 2007. I was here the whole time and it was exciting beyond words.
There is a saying…..all good things must come and here it ended with a bang. But today there is good news for one resort that will not make the list of implosions; the Sahara Hotel and Casino. It was just announced this week that the owners of the Sahara have obtained $300 million in funding to redevelop the landmark property into a resort that will be called SLS Las Vegas. I saw this as fantastic news and now I truly believe the Las Vegas economy has started to regain its past glitter.
The Sahara Hotel and Casino has always been a special place for me. I hate to date myself but when I turned 21 in 1980 a few of my friends and I made the trip from LA to Vegas to explore the world of gambling. I remember driving up the I-15 Freeway and getting off on Sahara Avenue. The first place we visited? That is right; the Sahara Hotel and Casino.
I will never forget walking into a casino for the first time. The lights, bells and the money clinking into the slot machine trays was unforgettable. My friends and I studied how to play blackjack and were confident that we could break the bank. We each allotted $100 each to play. It was early in the afternoon so we were able to find an empty table that we could all play at ($2.00 minimum bet). My heart was pounding as I took a seat and pulled five twenty dollars bills from my wallet. To make a long story short we did not end up owning the Sahara, but we did enjoy six free drinks each and my $100 lasted a good six hours. Even though we lost, our confidence was up (fueled by the six drinks) and we headed off to the Dunes and then the Stardust. We lost more money, but for a group of young guys from the sticks of California we had a hell of a good time.
The Stardust and the Dunes are gone. I have since moved to Las Vegas and am proud to call it my home for the past 27 years. In that time I have been back to the Sahara many times. The NASCAR restaurant was a great place to visit if you are a racing fan. The roller coaster was a rush for anyone who had the courage to ride it. When I heard that the Sahara was closing a couple of years ago it broke my heart. I thought it was going the way of the Stardust and Dunes along with the memory of my first blackjack bet.
I have faith the Las Vegas will recover and now I know that to be true. The Sahara may not have the same name or decor, but it will be back in one way or another. When it reopens I plan to be the first person in the door with $100 to play blackjack. This time I am sure that I will break the bank!