The LA Times has reported that the Sahara hotel-casino on the Las Vegas strip will be closing on May 16 after 59 years of operation. The property’s owner, Sam Nazarian, has not reported of any specific plans he has for the site in the future. Along with the closure of the Sahara, the NASCAR Café inside, along with the Speed: The Ride roller coaster will be shutting down operations as a result.
Speed: The Ride opened in April 2000 at a cost of $1,000,000 and was included as part of the Sahara’s remodeling which included the NASCAR Café. The launched coaster, built by Premier Rides, features a 35 mph launch out of the building into an overbanked turn, down into a trench, and through a 92-foot loop. After this it features a second launch up to 70 mph, at which point it snakes over some hills outside the hotel before climbing a 200-foot spike, then falls back through the course.
The reason for the closure is speculated to be the countries deep recession, which has hit Las Vegas hard, being an expensive tourist destination. Nazarian had bought the Morrocan-themed Sahara in 2007 with hopes of returning it to its former “Rat Pack-era” glory, but that is not to be anymore. The closure will see the loss of 1,700 hotel rooms and 1,000+ employees.
Unlike the Sahara, the Tropicana hotel-casino saw an investement of tens of millions of dollars to redecorate the hotel with “South Beach décor,” saving the location. Other nearby hotels on the north end of the Vegas Strip, the Fantainebleau hotel and Echelon, both stand unfinished, and may never be finished, along with nearby plots of land where projects never even broke ground.
Though the Strip is beginning to see recovery, thanks in part to the opening of the Cosmopolitan resort and multiple conventions held in the area, the recovery is still sporadic and not as strong as it once was.