Caesars To Open New Vegas Convention Center

New 600,000-sq.-ft. venue will sit behind Harrah’s Hotel & Casino

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: December 5, 2017

Caesars Forum, a new $375 million convention center, will open in 2020.

Caesars Entertainment (Caesars) has committed to building a new major player in the Las Vegas convention scene. The $375-million facility will feature 300,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and be adjacent to Harrah’s Hotel & Casino and The Linq Hotel & Casino and will be called Caesars Forum.

“We know that we want more meetings business in town,” said Michael Massari, chief sales officer, Caesars Entertainment. “It’s a great customer for us; business travelers really contribute to our success as a company.”

Massari cited Harrah’s, The Linq and Flamingo Hotel, all owned by Caesars, all which currently have a limited amount of meeting space, as the impetus for the new convention center. “We wanted to build meeting space that those properties could enjoy the benefits from,” he said.

The 1.8-acre property owned by Caesars, is currently a parking lot and next to the decked-out High Roller Ferris wheel, also owned by the company. Even though Caesars owns the real estate, the deal is structured in a sell-and-lease-back construct where Caesars will sell the property to VICI Properties and lease it back.

Caesars will get a cash infusion of $1.14 billion from the sale, which will also include Caesars acquiring two properties — Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Anderson, Ind.,  and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino, Shelbyville — and adding them to its portfolio.

“We expect the sale and leaseback will allow us to acquire and develop the convention center without increasing leverage,” said Caesars President and CEO Mark Frissora in a statement. “The acquisition of the adjacent land to Harrah’s and development of the convention center allows us to develop another important destination right in the middle of our center-Strip-footprint.”

The space will include “the two largest ballrooms ever built,” said Massari. The pillarless ballrooms will each be 108,000-sq.-ft. and will be outfitted with high-end carpeting, chandeliers and wall sconces. “The ballrooms will be massive and large enough to hold almost any event such as general sessions, breakouts, meal functions and exhibit space.” Two junior ballrooms will be 40,000 sq.-ft. each and several boardrooms will also be built. The outside plaza will be 100,000 sq. ft.

Construction will start at the end of the first quarter of 2018 and Ceasars Forum is slated to open in 2020. “We’re already taking reservations,” said Massari. Friedmutter Group and PENTA Building Group have been selected as the architect and general contractor, respectively. The building will cost $375 million and Massari said they are hoping to attract “meetings of all size. The objective was to build something large and flexible.”

The meeting space is being designed to gather 1,000-6,000 at a time, but Massari envisions meetings of thousands, hundreds or even 10 or 20 attendees. Concessions will be  run in-house by Caesars.

Reina Herschdorfer, director of marketing, meetings and events, Caesars, said that the company is “excited about getting into the convention center space.” She echoed Massari’s sentiments that the new space will be “for every size event” and expects the business to be split 50/50 between large and small events. “We have some customers that have outgrown our current meeting space and we really wanted to offer them a space.”

The latest technology will be a big part of the new venue, according to Herschdorfer. “We’ll have free WiFi, charging stations and everything the modern convention-goer expects.”

The project is expected to generate nearly 1,000 local construction-phase jobs and over 450 permanent jobs once completed.

 

  • by Brad Weissberg
  • Published: December 5, 2017