Neverland Ranch would be a great addition to the Strip


*logoForget for a second whether there's any truth to the rumors, and just think about the cosmic symmetry: Michael Jackson's world-famous Neverland Ranch smack dab in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. In a city built on over-the-top spectacle, the late entertainer's mansion/zoo/amusement park would be a perfect fit.

According to published reports, Colony Capital, which bought the loan to Neverland, has expressed interest in transferring the main house and several other structures to land near the Strip and building a museum, movie theater and, if approved by Jackson's relatives, a burial plot where people could pay their respects.

If it happens, Jackson would finally get his wish for a permanent home in Las Vegas. In recent years, the King of Pop's all-around-town ubiquity made it clear that he had his eye on the city, perhaps hoping to land a headliner gig like Celine Dion's.

He stayed in hotels, then leased homes around town, including a 10-acre mansion in the northwest. According to the Las Vegas Sun, his real estate agent, Zar Zanganeh, said Jackson planned to use money from his London performances to make an offer on another 10-acre mansion.

"He got so excited, the minute we drove through the gates here he got that feeling of Neverland. As soon as he stepped out of the car, he said, 'Zar, I love this place. I'm calling it Wonderland,'" Zanganeh told the Sun.

Jackson liked the security features -- a panic room and bulletproof doors -- and the spaciousness. "That was a big thing that appealed to Michael: Like Neverland, he was going to be able to do everything he wanted."

The addition of Neverland Ranch could provide the city's atrophying tourism and gaming industries a much-needed economic shot in the arm, especially if Neverland Ranch Las Vegas (I've already given it a name) functions anything like Memphis' Graceland, the wildly popular estate-turned-tourist destination of late rock 'n' roll impresario Elvis Presley.

Every year since Presley's death in 1977, tens of thousands of fans from all over the world have come to Graceland, including scores for the annual Elvis Week in August.

Jackson was just as popular to his generation as Elvis was to his, so it's reasonable to assume he could draw as many tourists, if not more.

Vegas thrives on must-see experiences, and Neverland Ranch would be one more feather in the city's neon-sequined cap.


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