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Steve Wynn opens his latest Treasure
Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1993 | 6 a.m.
Esteban Geraldo's eyes lit up as cannons boomed from a pirate ship and sank a British frigate in front of Las Vegas' newest resort.
"I've lived here 18 years and I've never seen anything like that," Geraldo said after watching the pyrotechnic sea battle outside Treasure Island.
The Geraldo family was among the first 1,000 customers to enter the $430 million resort shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday.
Some didn't get to see the swashbuckling sea battle between the HMS Brittania and the Hispaniola, but they were impressed with the 2,900-room resort just the same.
"I think it's gorgeous," said Sharon Norris of the casino's interior. "It's such a high class place. It's where you want to be."
Norris, from Nashville, Tenn., said she and her husband planned their vacation this week specifically because of the opening. It paid off, at least for a little while, because she won $150 only minutes after sitting down at a $5 slow machine.
Typical of a casino opening, many people rushed in to play video machines on the belief that more jackpots hit on opening day.
Although the resort advertised that it was opening at noon today, people lined up to get inside following a press and VIP party that attracted some of the industry's biggest heavy hitters.
"I think seeing Kirk Kerkorian here shows how outstanding and event it is," said Bill Curran, chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission.
Kerkorian, the leading shareholder of MGM Grand Inc., which is building the 5,009-room MGM Grand Hotel and Theme Park set to open in December, lives in Los Angeles and makes few public appearances.
Junk bond king Michael Milken, who helped finance The Mirage Hotel, was there to watch longtime friend Steve Wynn open his newest resort.
"When I first met Steve in 1978, I thought he was another Walt Disney," Milken said. "I still think he is a Walt Disney."
Wynn, enthralled by the warm reception of his latest moneymaker, became as much a child as Robert Louis Stevenson's readers when the public crowded around Buccaneer Bay to watch the sea battle, which will occur seven times nightly. He left his VIPs to watch them view the full-size British ship sink beneath choppy waters.
"I love it whwen it goes to the big jury," a giddy Wynn said earlier Tuesday. "That's my favorite time, watching the first people go through the doors, watching their faces when they see the sea battle."
It was Wynn's second mega-resort opening in Las Vegas, and he vows it won't be his last.
"I intend to stay in this job," he said. "This is my life, my love, my career."
Wynn's next project is moving full speed just as Treasure Island opens. Mirage Resorts plans to implode the Dunes Hotel tonight to make way for his next resort.
"Starting Monday we go at it," Wynn said of plans for the Dunes property. "The next design project will be full tilt."
Mirage Resorts bought the Dunes in January and plans to develop a massive resort around a man-made lake. Wynn said he plans to construct the resort during 1995 and 1996, with an opening in late 1996.
Financing is not a concern, he said. He boasts that The Mirage and the Golden Nugget downtown are having record years. At the end of its third year, The Mirage is having its greatest month, he said.
"We've got a free cash flow of over $140 million a year," Wynn said. "Financing our own projects is effortless."
The new resort's plans aren't set in stone, but it could require the demolition of the newer Dunes tower, as well, Wynn said.
"You saw what they had to do at the MGM to use the Marina," Wynn said. "When you spend $1 billion on a hotel, it seems sort of foolish to let a $12 million high-rise tell you what to do."
Wynn said the south Dunes tower isn't in bad shape. But it would cost several million dollars to incorporate it into the design of the new resort, and it isn't in a desirable location, he said.
However, he warns that his plans for the design are still preliminary.
"We are still in the design phase," Wynn said. "It'll change 100 times."
Wynn's perfectionism can be seen at Treasure Island in everything from the sailing ships to the trunks of jewels tucked into the recesses of the ceiling.
He even changed the name of the British ship from HMS Sir Francis Drake to HMS Brittania after members of the black community suggested that Drake was a slave trader.
Such attention to detail has garnered Wynn respect in the viciously competitive industry.
"He does everything first class," said John O'Reilly, president and chief executive officer of Jackpot Enterprises.
Fringed tapestries adorn casino walls, ornate Moroccan mirrors hang in a fine restaurant and the latest in exercise equipment fills the spa.
The casino is adorned with antiques from around the world, according to the resort's tour guide.
Nevertheless, Wynn is the first to admit that aside from the $32 million sea battle, Treasure Island is just a hotel-casino.
"It's just a casino like The Mirage," he said. "Whatever is special about it will be decided by the customers."
The customers who will be making that decision likely will have smaller bank accounts than The Mirage customers. With two wedding chapels, carnival games and the absence of baccarat, Mirage Resorts is trying to gain a foothold in the market once cornered by Circus Circus.
In fact, Treasure Island will vie for the same visitors as Luxor, Circus Circus' pyramid-shaped resort that opened less than two weeks ago. Standard room rates are comparable, averaging around $75 a night.
The MGM Grand, set to open Dec. 18, is also seeking to lure families.
But its competition that Wynn said he doesn't fear.
"Las Vegas has demonstrated the agility of a young acrobat," Wynn said. "They are not just adjusting to the future, but are leaping into it."
The industry is making that leap with new types of entertainment, such as the sea battle at Treasure Island, Luxor's $50 million film attractions and MGM Grand's theme park.
"It's like early Christmas Eve," Curran said of the three resort openings. "You open presents one at a time, and every one is your favorite."
Adult-themed ‘Sirens of TI’ takes a stand on the Strip
By Jerry Fink
Monday, Oct. 27, 2003 | 6 a.m.
"Sirens of TI" received a standing ovation during its premiere public performance at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Of course the crowd, estimated at more than 5,000, stood through the entire 20-minute production there is no seating.
Officials estimate the standing capacity for the show at about 2,500. The curious not only filled the bridge that separates the man-made bay from the sidewalk, they filled the sidewalk and spilled onto the Strip, crimping traffic to two lanes and causing a near-traffic jam.
And, until Metro police officers on bicycles began shooing them away midway through the production, spectators stood and sat on the cement median dividing north and south traffic on the boulevard.
Hordes more craned their necks from the sidewalk on the east side of the street.
For some, the scene outside the pirate battle was more exciting than the battle itself.
"It's a bit boring," said Guy Peckett of London, one of those polled as they exited the bridge.
"Too much singing," shouted a young woman who had a child on her shoulders. "Very stupid."
Laura Gonzales of Mexico wasn't particularly enthused.
"It's OK," she shrugged.
But others gave thumbs-up signs.
The ovation at the end of the show, though standing, was tepid. No one seemed to know quite what to make of the adult-themed production that replaces the family-oriented "Battle of Buccaneer Bay."
Though "Sirens" is touted as a show for adults, parents didn't seem to mind bringing children, dozens of whom mixed with the crowd.
For those who missed seeing the "Sirens on the Strip" during one of their three performances Sunday night, they will sing the national anthem tonight during "Monday Night Football," 6 p.m. on KTNV Channel 13 (ABC).
"Sirens" replaces the free, 12-minute pyrotechnic pirate show "Battle of Buccaneer Bay" which was the signature production of Treasure Island from the time it opened in 1993.
More than 4.5 million people per year crammed the sidewalk on Las Vegas Boulevard along the east side of the resort to watch pirates aboard the Hispaniola combat British sailors aboard the HMS Britannia.
After a spectacular exchange of cannon fire, the Britannia was sunk. The ship went down for the last time in July, after 16,334 battles.
Treasure Island President Scott Sibella said the "re-imagined" conflict, whose length has almost doubled, "is going to knock the socks off everyone. It is better than a lot of shows you pay to see on the Strip."
He described the production as "more of a musical Broadway show that turns into a concert, with 17th-century sirens evolving into the 21st century."
The fight has moved from Buccaneer Bay to Sirens' Cove, where 13 scantily clad seductresses sing and dance their way through a battle with 11 pirates in a production created and directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega.
Ortega has choreographed more than 20 feature films, including 1980's "Xanadu," and numerous concerts, including Barbra Streisand's "Timeless" in 1999.
He won two Emmy awards for Outstanding Direction and Outstanding Choreography for his work on the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City.
Ortega was also the choreographer for Gloria Estefan's engagement earlier this month at Caesars Palace. Record producer and songwriter Emilio Estefan, Gloria's husband and producer, scored the music for "Sirens."
"There are some great stunts and pyrotechnics in the show," Sibella said. "The lighting has been improved. There's a lot of singing and dancing and diving -- some of the cast members are Olympic divers."
The revamped pirates' battle is the culmination of multimillion-dollar renovation project that Sibella says brings the Treasure Island into the 21st century.
"This has been planned for a long time," Sibella said. "Over three years ago we realized who we are and who we want to be."
What they were was a pirate-themed hotel/casino decked out in a Caribbean motif. What they wanted to be was a more refined resort more closely associated with adults than children, an "elegant Caribbean hideaway."
One of the first things to go was a 25,000-square-foot arcade, which was reduced to 1,200 square feet.
"We started with our $65 million room renovation, changing from a cabin theme to elegant rooms overnight," Sibella said. "It took off from there with changes to restaurants and bars. We even changed the carpeting in the casinos and the uniforms.
"We consistently made changes knowing that we would have to energize the outside."
Energizing the outside included painting the building (with 6,200 gallons of terra cotta, or "Salmon Stream") and erecting an LED screen marquee that is 137 feet high and 84 feet wide (and reads "TI" instead of "Treasure Island").
And finally, the old show had to go.
"It had become a Vegas icon," Sibella noted, "but it wasn't really attracting the quality of customer we wanted.
"We decided to create a show that better sells TI."
Sibella said "Sirens" will attract visitors "and expose them to the new property."
Even with all the publicity about the adult nature of the production, Sibella says it is suitable for the entire family.
That would be a relief to Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, who returned from a trip to China last week. Commenting before the debut of "Sirens," she noted that Las Vegas "should be and is something for everyone. Therefore, something in full view of the public must be done with great taste and discretion."
Sirens of TI pirate show permanently canceled; shops in works
By Michelle Rindels, Associated Press
Published Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 | 1:14 p.m.
Updated Monday, Nov. 25, 2013 | 2:13 p.m.
An open-air Las Vegas Strip pirate show that featured sirens in skimpy costumes dancing with shirtless sailors has been canceled, with casino officials saying Monday they need to make way for a pharmacy and other shops.
"Sirens of TI" had been on a hiatus, but officials at the Treasure Island casino confirmed that the 10-year run of the seductive spectacle was over for good.
Andrea Mestdagh, a spokeswoman for Treasure Island public relations agency The Firm, didn't have details about the number of cast members affected or how they were notified of the unexpected closure.
The free show, which featured elaborate pyrotechnics and dancers using the rigging of a giant ship as stripper poles, was a sexed-up version of a pirate show that had played to large crowds since 1993.
"Sirens" was created and directed by Kenny Ortega, who directed other well-known shows on the Strip, including the Bellagio water extravaganza and the "Siegfried and Roy" finale.
The "Sirens" production garnered lackluster ratings — it averaged two stars out of a possible five on nearly 150 reviews on the website Yelp.
The show entered what was supposed to be a two-month closure on Oct. 20. Construction crews drained the water from the man-made lagoon and sent in cranes to start working on a three-story, 48,000-square-foot retail space.
The plan later changed, according to Mestdagh, and the 10-minute shows that ran four times nightly were scrapped. Mention of the show has been stripped from the Treasure Island website.
The opening of the shops is planned for the fall of 2014.
Lone gunman robs Treasure Island, injures cashier
Monday, Oct. 30, 2000 | 11:48 a.m.
Authorities are searching for a lone gunman in a daring early morning robbery at the Treasure Island hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
A man with a gun jumped over the main casino cage about 12:30 a.m. Monday, Las Vegas police said, and made off an undisclosed amount of money.
The robber struck a casino cashier in the head with the gun, said Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage, which owns Treasure Island.
"It was over in a matter of seconds," Feldman said.
Security guards chased the robber, who fired a shot at them outside the casino, said police Lt. John Alamshaw of Metro's robbery unit.
"None of the guards was hit," he said.
The casino cage employee who was struck with the gun was treated at a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries.
Monday's robbery is the latest in a string of brazen armed robberies of Strip casinos and the second robbery at Treasure Island in less than four months. Police are investigating similarities in the two Treasure Island holdups.
Two armed men robbed the casino's main cashier cage July 13, injuring two employees before escaping with an undisclosed amount of money.
"One of the suspects is in custody in Florida," said Alamshaw, who added that charges likely will be filed in the July robbery.
Treasure Island's casino cage also was robbed in April 1997.
Police don't believe the Treasure Island robberies are connected to the June 3 robbery at the Bellagio hotel-casino or a series of other Strip casino robberies over the past two years despite similarities.
In the June 3 Bellagio casino cage robbery, two men jumped over the casino cage and took about $160,000 in cash and casino chips while a third stood lookout.
Prosecutors and attorneys for two of the suspects in the Bellagio robbery - Jose Vigoa and Luis Suarez - return to court Wednesday when District Judge Kathy Hardcastle will set a trial date for the pair. The third suspect, Oscar Cisneros Sanchez, hanged himself in his cell earlier this month.
Henderson Police last week turned over more evidence linking the trio with the ambush slayings of two armored car guards in March 3 outside a discount department store. Gunmen opened fire on the guards with automatic weapons as they made a delivery to the store.
Suarez and Vigoa are also suspects in robberies at the New York-New York, Mandalay Bay, Desert Inn and MGM Grand hotels.