Paul Szydelko
Paul Szydelko

At the end of the Las Vegas Strip's shutdown last month, a vertical array of bright lights could be seen at least 15 miles away in the suburbs. Resorts World, its construction continuing during the pandemic, was testing a massive LED board destined to become the city's latest icon when it opens next summer.

Amid dark days, the vibrant light represents a beacon of hope for the city. Hope that the Raiders and fans will fill the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium this fall. Hope that the 777-room Circa Resort & Casino will foster downtown Las Vegas's hard-won momentum late this year. Hope that CES will fill the newly expanded Las Vegas Convention Center in January. And hope the $4.3 billion, 3,500-room Resorts World will achieve its ambition to be the first new casino to open on the Strip since 2010.

When he directed the state's hotel-casinos to be closed in mid-March, Gov. Steve Sisolak allowed work on these high-profile projects and others to continue, deeming construction essential not only for short-term employment but for the city's long-term prospects.

Resort World's 100,000-square-foot LED screen, affixed to the West Tower, will be one of the largest displays in the world. The 19,000-square-foot East Tower LED screen and a 50-foot video globe will augment the display.

Content, designed to create excitement and energy on the 88-acre property and throughout the valley, will tie into the resort's entertainment offerings, said Scott Sibella, Resorts World president.

"We know it's going to be part of our personality," Sibella said. "We think it will help make a statement here in the city of Las Vegas because of everywhere you can see it.  So it's just not the old generic ad. It's going to be storytelling and a lot of fun things on these screens that people are going to look forward to seeing."

Sibella, who unveiled the design of guestrooms last week, said construction is 65% complete with about 3,000 workers on the job.

"In light of everything that's going on in today's world, I would say we're doing well," he said. "We're following all the protocols that the governor asked us to, because that pertains to construction workers, too, not just to the people working inside the property."

Sibella said his team and Hilton partners are studying what design changes may be needed because of new health and safety measures to fight Covid-19.

"If money needs to be added, it will be added and maybe taken away from somewhere else. We're looking at the back of the house, how employees enter, how we can make sure that employees are safe when they get here.  (Hilton) is learning so much. They're doing a lot of the legwork now, and they're going to share their studies. We'll implement a lot of the programs that Hilton is working on today."

What has Sibella, a former president and COO of MGM Grand, learned about Las Vegas since resorts started reopening on June 4?

"The city's taking this very seriously, but it's still Las Vegas," he said. "It's great to see how they implemented all the [safety measures]. At the same time, guests seem like they're having fun and they're still wearing their masks, they're still keeping their distance and things like that.  Everybody that goes into these buildings knows that safety is a No. 1 priority, and we're not going to sacrifice anything. The city's done a great job being a leader in this industry with it."

With 350,000 square feet of meetings and convention space under development, Sibella is most curious about when and how that industry will return.

"The city has a lot of conventions booked for the third and fourth quarter. We hope that they don't have to cancel those," he said. "And we hope they continue to come, and it will be one of the best third and fourth quarters the city's ever had, because they shifted them over from the first and second quarter [of 2020]."

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