LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As we look ahead to the year 2020, we’re looking back on the years that got us here. The 1990s were a ‘blur of building’ on the Las Vegas Strip, with more than a dozen hotels opening.
Steve Wynn’s Mirage not only ushered in a new decade but also a new era for the Las Vegas Strip.
“It really showed the gaming industry that there was an entirely different way to market both themselves and their product,” said Jan Jones Blackhurst, former mayor of Las Vegas.
Blackhurst was mayor of Las Vegas for most of the ’90s, as the city reimagined itself into a hospitality destination. So, how did they transform it?
“You blew them up, and then you rebuilt them,” said Blackhurst.
The Dunes, the Sands and the Hacienda were just a few that bit the dust.
Bob Coffin, former Nevada state senator, credited the growth to creative thinkers.
“People came along who were visionary, willing to not only risk their own money, but to convince others around the world to invest in this Valley,” said Coffin.
New themed properties sprouted on the south end: Excalibur, the Luxor, and later, Mandalay Bay. In December of ’93, Kirk Kerkorian’s MGM Grand hotel and theme parks opened at the world’s largest hotel. And five years later, the most expensive hotel in the world was built for $1.7 billion: the Bellagio.
“Having lived here and seen it all, I can say that the ’90s were as fast as any decade there ever was,” reflected Coffin.
The fast and furious Las Vegas Motor Speedway roared onto the scene in 1996. Sin City sizzled as Wayne Newton celebrated 25,000 performances in the mid-90s. Danny Gans was also crowned as one of the best the Strip has ever seen.
And not to be out done by all the activity on the Strip, Mayor Jan Jones made a bold move by creating the lighted canopy over Fremont Street in 1995, essentially making it the world’s largest casino.