LAS VEGAS - From Stardust to just dust. The Las Vegas Strip's first mass-market casino-hotel was imploded early Tuesday in a hail of fireworks to make way for Boyd Gaming Corp.'s $4.4 billion megaresort Echelon.
Hundreds of people partied beneath tents and on makeshift patios before Boyd chairman Bill Boyd's four grandsons pushed a plunger to detonate the former Stardust casino. The blast generated a massive dust cloud that chased the revelers into cars, buses and nearby casinos.
"It hurts. We cried," said Sheila Navarro, 51, a school supplies buyer from Oxnard, Calif., who took shelter in the nearby Frontier casino-hotel. She came with three sisters, her mother, an aunt and a brother-in-law to say farewell to the casino she's gambled at for more than 30 years.
"It's very hard for me to find another casino to go to," she said. "Maybe in two years, three years, I'll have different feelings, but right now, my heart is broken."
The casino opened July 2, 1958, billing itself as the world's largest resort hotel with 1,032 rooms. It was credited with being Las Vegas' first mass-market casino, thanks to cheap rates and loss-leading food and drinks.
Bob Boughner, Echelon Resorts' chief executive, said while the Stardust was a favorite of the nostalgia crowd, it was missing out on younger patrons and those who come to Las Vegas for conventions.
In this photo provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, the Stardust Hotel is imploded on the Las Vegas Strip, Tuesday, March 13, 2007, to pave the way for Boyd Gaming Corp.'s $4.4 billion megaresort complex, Echelon. (AP Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Darrin Bush)
Piles of rubble remain after the implosion of Stardust hotel-casino in Las Vegas on Tuesday, March 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Stardust Resort & Casino is shown on March 12 before it was imploded in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 13, 2007. REUTERS/Steve Marcus (UNITED STATES)
Maybe the problem is, that beneath all the glamour and glitz ("What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas©"), the reality is more like the scene depicted in this picture from the Stardust website: