Tropicana Las Vegas opened April 4, 1957. It closed at noon on April 2, 2024.

That’s a solid run in Las Vegas, despite the fact most of Trop’s years were spent struggling financially.

For many, the closure is evidence an Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas is a done deal, as the stated reason for the Trop closing is to demolish it to make room for an MLB ballpark. These people are misguided. But this story isn’t about the A’s or Bally’s Corp. or that whole debacle. This story is a perfunctory recap of the shuttering of a classic Las Vegas casino. LFG, as the kids say.

Tropicana, a few hours before her plug was pulled. Yes, it was a “her.” Trop was a “they” back in college, but that was just a phase.

What can we say about the Tropicana that hasn’t already been said? A lot, because traditional media has no original ideas about anything.

Here’s the bottom line: The people waxing poetic about the glorious history of the Tropicana, and gnashing their teeth about the closure, are people who don’t really know the history of the Trop and didn’t particularly visit.

Had more people visited, the Trop wouldn’t be closing, plain and simple.

The Trop cost $15 million to build in 1957, which is about $165 million in today’s dollars. As a basis of comparison, Bruno Mars once lost $165 million in a weekend playing baccarat at Bellagio, probably. Still, Trop was the most expensive resort built on the Las Vegas Strip at the time.

The place has a fascinating history, which means we won’t be sharing it here, mostly because it would involve “research” or “exerting effort.” Being fascinating is highly overrated.

Cue that Sinatra song about how he did it his way.

Basically, the only thing you need to know about the history of the Tropicana is it once had “Folies Bergere,” a topless showgirl revue. “Folies” is French for “ga” and “Bergere” translates as “zongas.”

“Folies Bergere” closed in 2009, after almost 50 years, making it the longest-running show in Las Vegas history.

For the record, Gordie Brown’s show only feels like it’s been around longer than half a decade. Because it feels much longer than it is, and Brown is still doing Humphrey Bogart impressions, in case that weren’t clear.

We randomly spotted this showgirl feather, also known as a “visual metaphor,” on the ground in Trop’s parking lot on the casino’s final night of business.

The Trop’s history is full of drama and organized crime and the resort was one of the few Strip resorts that never really had a heyday, per se.

The resort did have some moments, though. It was the location used in several bigtime movies, including “Viva Las Vegas, “The Godfather” and “Diamonds Are Forever.”

Tropicana, sadly, wasn’t destined to be forever. It’s middling revenue and declining state resulted in rumors it would be demolished several years before the looming A’s debacle.

Why is it a debacle? Because the A’s haven’t shown they can afford a multibillion-dollar ballpark, and the owners of Tropicana, Bally’s Corp., also haven’t shown the company can afford a multibillion-dollar casino resort. Their Chicago casino has an $800 million shortfall, and the credit rating of Bally’s was recently downgraded to “You’d be nuts to loan this company $50 until payday.”

The upshot is the Tropicana will most likely be demolished and replaced with, wait for it, nothing. For many years. Possible scenarios involve the A’s finding another site (or staying in Oakland) and someone with deep pockets buying the Trop site for development, despite the fact FAA rules will make it difficult to operate profitably because a hotel would be limited in its number of rooms because a developer couldn’t build upward.

Nobody smart is investing in a minority share of the A’s, and nobody smart is building a hotel-casino on that site, so we’re stuck with nothing for the foreseeable future. See also the Riviera, currently a parking lot, and soon to be retail.

We’re pretty sure a lot of the people taking selfies at the Tropicana before it closed had never actually been to, you know, the Tropicana.

Like we said, the entire history of Tropicana has been awkward, and we aren’t even talking about when a Trop performer, Jan Rouven, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for possession, receipt and distribution of more than 9,000 images and videos of child pornography.

Trop was the place where “Mamma Mia” closed after three months, despite the fact it ran six years at Mandalay Bay.

Other casualties of the “Tropicana curse”: “Cherry Boom Boom,” “Raiding the Rock Vault,” “Imaginarium” and Brad Garrett’s comedy club.

Everyone’s finding new homes.

Trop had a Mob Attraction that tanked, too. That reference is for the .658 of people who recall the attraction was featured on the TV series “Tanked.”

Fast forward to today, literally today as we’re writing this story, as the Tropicana closed at noon on April 2, 2024.

We visited the ailing casino on its final night of operation. The sad was everywhere.

Trop’s gift shop was sold out of mementos, so we grabbed these freebies to remember our final visit.

Most of the slot machines were already down (the least profitable were the first to go, we were told by a Trop official), despite the official end of gaming happening at 3:00 a.m. on April 2. Many of the table games were shut down, as dealers had been jumping ship to find new gigs for months ahead of the closure.

There were no big progressive jackpot giveaways, as has been the case with other casino closures, because Bally’s has other locations, so the jackpots were transferred to other casinos in the Bally’s family. (Bally’s Corp. has no relationship to the previous Bally’s casino on The Strip, now Horseshoe.)

There were lots of signs. Some said the casino would no longer sell casino chips at the $1 or $5 denomination. We trust chip resellers were buying in bulk.

The “further notice” never came.

We donated $285 to a roulette table to get a $5 chip and a roulette chip. Fair trade.

Toward the end, the $5 chips were crispy and new. The roulette chips, not so much.

Some signs let guests know they can cash their Tropicana chips at Oyo until July 2024.

In our opinion, the best place to cash in Trop chips is eBay.

Some signs let guests know many areas of the Tropicana were closed, even before the resort closed.

Many of the restrooms were closed, and even when they were open, well.

Let’s just say visual metaphors were everywhere during Trop’s closure.

There were tons of people taking a last look at the Tropicana.

Employees were mostly in good spirits, but change is often difficult, especially given so many staffers have worked at Trop for decades.

Many of those employees will receive $2,000 for every year of service. Three employees will get $100,000 paydays.

We couldn’t make out their names, either, but there were two 5-year banquet servers and a 50-year beverage server.

We covered a lot of ground during our final visit to Tropicana, including a wedding chapel we didn’t know existed, and a wishing well.

The wedding chapel is surrounded by foliage, something that made the Trop unique. All the green.

Yes, this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to a wedding chapel. Don’t be a smartass.

We bumped into a couple who had gotten married at the Trop’s wedding chapel years prior. They stopped by to make the rest of us feel super inadequate, romancewise.

Oh, like we’re not going to show you what’s inside the well.

The well had been drained, but coins remained.

So many visual metaphors, so little time.

We hit the Tropicana pool complex, too, of course. It was a favorite of Las Vegas locals, as they could get in free on weekdays.

What else is there to be said about Tropicana?

It’s always painful when a casino closes, but in this case, it just felt like time. You know, like when your dog gets old and suffers from bladder leaks. It’s awkward for everyone, including the dog, so everyone just agrees it’s time.

The decay at Trop started long before the A’s were in the mix.

No one can predict what will happen on the Trop site when it’s gone (demolition is expected to commence in Oct. 2024), the end of the former “Tiffany of The Strip” is the end of an era. The list of old-timey casinos still standing grows shorter with each year.

Hang in there Flamingo (1946), Golden Nugget (1946), El Cortez (1941) and Golden Gate (1906).

Trop’s carpeting, for posterity.

The thing we’ll miss most about the Tropicana is the people. Casinos don’t create memories, people do. People don’t tend to stay for decades at jobs they hate, so the culture and family vibe of the Trop was obviously unique. Banquet servers can also make bank, often upwards of $150,000 a year, but it’s more about the culture and family vibe!

We’ll also miss the stained glass ceiling, of course. As we were the first to share, the ceiling will be saved from the wrecking ball (no actual ball will be used, but the Trop hasn’t said if there will be an implosion, it’s not likely) and used in the new A’s ballpark, should such a venue ever materialize. For laughs, check out the most recent A’s ballpark renderings.

The demise of the Trop feels different from similar closures. Maybe we’re jaded, but people seemed more emotionally attached to the Stardust, Riviera, Desert Inn, New Frontier, Landmark and others. Everything gets better (and is more fondly remembered) with the passage of time.

Maybe the muted emotions are because the Trop’s bladder control issues were becoming more obvious over time, and while the demolition of Tropicana feels like a huge gamble, it’s better to see a casino die with dignity rather than awkwardly fading away.

For Tropicana, it was time. We can’t wait to see what’s next. The suspense is terrible, we hope it will last.


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