|Location||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Opened||April 30, 1996|
|Antenna spire||1,149 ft (350.2 m)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Skidmore, Owings & Merrill|
Stratosphere Las Vegas
|Location||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Address||2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South|
|Opening date||April 30, 1996|
|No. of rooms||2,427|
|Total gaming space||80,000 sq ft (7,400 m2)|
|Permanent shows||Frankie Moreno; Pin Up|
|Owner||American Casino & Entertainment Properties|
|Previous names||Vegas World|
The property's signature attraction is the 1,149 ft (350.2 m) Stratosphere Tower, the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, and the second-tallest in the Western Hemisphere, surpassed only by the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario. It is the tallest tower west of the Mississippi River and also the tallest structure in Las Vegas and in the State of Nevada. The hotel is a separate building with 24 stories, 2,427 rooms and an 80,000 sq ft (7,400 m2) casino. The Stratosphere is owned and operated by American Casino & Entertainment Properties.
While the traditional definition of the Strip excludes the Stratosphere, it is often included in travel guides as a Strip attraction. Using this alternate definition, the Stratosphere is the northernmost of the major Strip resorts, and is the only Strip hotel actually located within the City of Las Vegas.
In 1974, Bob Stupak opened a small casino in Las Vegas known as Bob Stupak's World Famous Million-Dollar Historic Gambling Museum and Casino, located north of the Las Vegas Strip on land previously occupied by the Todkill/Bill Hayden Lincoln Mercury Dealership. The casino burned down two months later, and Stupak subsequently opened his Vegas World hotel and casino on the same property in 1979.
The concept for the Stratosphere began as a plan by Stupak to construct a 1,012-foot neon sign tower for Vegas World. In early October 1989, Stupak submitted plans to the city for the approval of the neon sign tower which would stand four times taller than the hotel. Later in the week, Stupak withdrew his plans to allow time for a revised version of the tower that would include an elevator leading up to an observation deck. Stupak, who wanted the tower to become a local landmark, said, "What I'm trying to do for Las Vegas is what the Eiffel Tower did for Paris, what the Empire State Building did for New York, what the Seattle Space Needle did for Seattle."
Stupak contacted an engineering firm in Texas whose expertise was in designing radio transmission towers. They produced a series of possible configurations based on computer "stretch-outs" of their standard skeletal tower designs. When Stupak showed these to CEO Lou Papais of Ad Art, Inc., Stockton, CA, he and his Executive Art Director, Chuck Barnard, agreed the designs were unsatisfactory and Barnard produced the concept for the 1149 ft. tower. Ad Art design associate, Jack Dubois, then created a giant color rendering of the tower which Stupak used to secure financial backing for construction. Architect Ned Baldwin, creator of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, was brought in and assembled a team of local engineers and architects to flesh out the design and move the project to completion.
In February 1990, Stupak unveiled his revised plans for a $50 million, 1,012-foot observation tower with a top floor that would include a revolving restaurant and four penthouse suites. The tower was also to include an indoor park of African lions, as well as four wedding chapels. In April 1990, the Las Vegas City Council approved Stupak's tower, despite objections from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which stated that it was 200 feet too tall. Stupak had initially envisioned an 1,800-foot tower, although the height was ultimately limited to 1,149 ft (350 m) because of concerns from the FAA about possible interference with flights from the nearby McCarran International Airport.
Construction of the $32 million tower began in February 1992, on property adjacent to Vegas World. On August 29, 1993, around midnight, hundreds of customers at Vegas World were evacuated when the half-finished tower caught on fire, during which no injuries occurred. The Stratosphere had been planned to open in August 1994, although the fire was expected to delay construction by eight weeks. Stupak said that the tower's first phase would still be ready in time with an accelerated construction schedule. A large crane located atop the tower, used for construction, was also damaged in the fire. The following month, high winds prevented the scheduled dismantling of the crane, a process that was expected to take two days. At that time, the cause of the fire remained unknown.
In November 1993, Grand Casinos announced plans to purchase 33 percent of the Stratosphere and Vegas World by acquiring shares in Stupak's Stratosphere Corporation. Vegas World closed on February 1, 1995, for remodeling in order to be integrated into the Stratosphere resort. Vegas World's two hotel towers, consisting of 932 rooms, were renovated to become part of the Stratosphere. As construction neared completion, one of the rides being planned for the resort was a giant ape that would carry riders up and down on one of the tower's columns.
The Stratosphere opened on April 30, 1996. Shortly after opening, the Stratosphere Corporation was forced to file bankruptcy. This caused construction on the second tower to stop, with only a few stories partially built, and it allowed Carl Icahn to gain control through one of his companies by buying a majority of the outstanding bonds.
A major addition was completed in June 2001 for $1 billion that included finishing the 1000-room second hotel tower.
In the early 2000s, the company attempted to get approval for a roller coaster that would run from several hundred feet up the tower and, in the last proposal, across Las Vegas Boulevard. Part of that last proposal included an entry monument on the ride over Las Vegas Boulevard welcoming people to the City of Las Vegas. The Las Vegas City Council did not approve the project due to objections from the neighbors over possible noise from the enclosed cars on the proposed ride.
In January 2010, American Casino & Entertainment Properties announced a new thrill ride for the top of the tower: SkyJump, a controlled-descent, bungee jumping-like ride that will allow riders to plummet 855 feet (261 m) attached to a high-speed descent wire. It opened on April 20, 2010.
Radio stations KOAS 105.7 (FM) and KVGS 107.9 (FM) have on-channel FM boosters broadcasting from an antenna at the top of the tower's structure. Licensed as KOAS-FM1 and KVGS-FM1, they are the only radio stations with transmitters at the tower. However, the signals being transmitted from this structure are relatively low-power and only cover the immediate Las Vegas area on a "fill in" or "booster" basis. Both of these stations have their main transmitter sites located elsewhere, and those transmitter sites are what give these stations more widespread regional coverage.
Beginning in 2010, the Stratosphere renovated several areas of the property. As part of a $20 million renovation plan, improvements were made to many hotel rooms, the casino, and the main entrance area. Improvements and upgrades have also been made in the Top of the World Restaurant and Level 107 lounge.
The Tower Shops is a mall on the second level that connects the casino to the entrance of the tower. The tower shops features various shops as well as a comedy club and the Knopf Fine Art Photography Gallery featuring the work of international award winning photographer John Knopf.
The casino has featured a number of performers, including bands and dancers. Frankie Moreno Live at Stratosphere had its final performance on December 20, 2014. Moreno and his 10-piece band began performing in the Stratosphere Theater on November 9, 2011 and achieved nearly 600 shows during his three-year tenure at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower.
Playboy Playmate Claire Sinclair signed for a new show in 2013, and has re-signed for 2015, on January 9, 2014. David Perrico with the band Pop Evolution, signed in 2013 for a monthly show.
Some of the casino games include slot machines and video poker. The Stratosphere has inherited some unusual variations on casino games from its predecessor. The 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) casino includes 50 table games, 1,500 slot and video poker machines, a poker room, and a race and sports book.
A replica of the tower can be found in the 2014 racing game The Crew, in the northern part of Las Vegas. It is also widely believed to be an inspiration for the fictional Lucky 38 casino in the 2010 role-playing game Fallout: New Vegas.
The casino and tower are featured in the 2005 movie Domino, in which the owner gets robbed of $10 million and the top of the tower gets damaged in an explosion.