What's in store for Vegas in 2023: Big plans, big events, big names

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The Fontainebleau, under construction on the Las Vegas Strip since 2007, is anticipated to open in late 2023.
The Fontainebleau, under construction on the Las Vegas Strip since 2007, is anticipated to open in late 2023. Photo Credit: Mark Mediana/DREX Agency
Paul Szydelko
Paul Szydelko

It's no surprise that Las Vegas tops the list of specific locations leisure travelers are most excited to visit in 2023, according to a survey released this month by Morning Consult, a decision intelligence company.

Not only will the city host its first NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament Sweet 16 round on March 23 and 25 and the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix Nov. 16 to 18, but several high-profile openings are on tap for the new year.

By far the most visible change to the skyline in the coming year will be the MSG Sphere, set for a fourth-quarter 2023 opening with a performance by U2. The 17,500-seat theater, which cost in excess of $2 billion to build, will host custom-made live and/or pretaped attractions, musical residencies, corporate events and e-sports.

A 67-story shell of a building on the northern part of Las Vegas Strip for more than a decade, the 3,700-key Fontainebleau Las Vegas has promised a late-2023 debut. When it's finally ready, it will house a 173,000-square-foot casino and a 90,000-square-foot shopping district.

Besides those two headliners, there are more modest openings planned for 2023, as well.

The Durango Casino & Resort is under construction on the west side of the Las Vegas valley.
The Durango Casino & Resort is under construction on the west side of the Las Vegas valley. Photo Credit: Paul Szydelko

Station Casinos' suburban Durango Casino & Resort west of the Strip will have 15 floors with more than 200 hotel rooms as well as convention and meetings spaces.

The Plaza's reimagining of its facade downtown will be completed in 2023, and rooms are being renovated at both Wynn Las Vegas and New York-New York.

Live entertainment is one of the things Vegas is best known for, and as always some of the biggest names in the business will be coming to the desert in 2023.

In addition to the aforementioned U2 at the MSG Sphere, Allegiant Stadium will welcome Taylor Swift for concerts on March 24 and 25. The Jonas Brothers will take the stage at Dolby Live at Park MGM on February 17 to 19, and Red Hot Chili Peppers will return to Allegiant Stadium on their new global tour route on April 1. In addition, Miranda Lambert will be in residency at Zappos Theater at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Garth Brooks will launch his residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in May and Carrie Underwood returns for another residency at the Resorts World Theatre in June. Several music festivals will also draw big crowds: EDC is set for May 19 to 21; Life is Beautiful, Sept. 22 to 24; and When We Were Young on Oct. 21.

What it means economically

Diversifying its appeal through sports, headliner residencies and other amenities has been the biggest success story for Las Vegas over the last couple of years, said Amanda Belarmino, assistant professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

"We've weathered the last couple of years better than any of us thought we would. So hopefully, that's a good sign [going into 2023]," Belarmino said.

Final statistics about ADR and visitation won't be available for another couple of months, but Belarmino is most interested in gaming revenue numbers, which have spiked this year.

"We've been seeing these astronomically high gaming revenues, which is amazing for the city," Belarmino said. "That is a better indicator of some of the strengths and some of the changes we're going to see in the post-pandemic years."

Visitors were spending less money on gambling and more on other types of entertainment leading up to the pandemic, she noted.

"But that's not what we're seeing now. ...  If we just look at everything holistically and say, 'Why are people coming here?' And do we need to make different business decisions based on why they're coming here?"

Inflation remains a concern going into the new year, she said.

"Inflation hasn't had the impact we thought it would, but I think it's going to. It's part of a slow-moving train wreck that's going to happen in terms of what it's going to do with travel across the U.S. We have to see what other economic indicators come forward," Belarmino said.

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