Bally’s Las Vegas, formerly the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, is a hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment. The hotel features 2,814 extra-sized guestrooms that are 450 sq ft (42 m2) or larger and over 175,000 sq ft (16,300 m2) of banquet and meeting space. The casino occupies 67,000 sq ft (6,200 m2). About 75% of the rooms are in the North Tower, and were renovated in 2004. The remaining rooms are located in the newer South Tower, constructed in 1981, Caesars Entertainment announced in Spring 2013 that they were going to fully renovate that tower and rename it “Jubilee” Tower by the end of 2013. The name inspired by their production show of course being Jubilee.
One of the signature features of the hotel is the neon lighting wrapped around the covered moving sidewalk that brings guests from Las Vegas Boulevard to the entrance of the casino while old hits from the Rat Pack are pumped out. The resort has a large shopping area a floor below its gaming level, including several restaurants, and there is a Las Vegas Monorail station at the rear of the property. Bally’s is home for the long-running production show Jubilee! which opened in 1981.
On November 21, 1980, the hotel, then operating as the MGM Grand, was the site of one of the worst high-rise fires in United States history, in which 84 people died.
The 43 acres (17 ha) site was first occupied by the Three Coins Motel, which opened in 1963. The Bonanza Hotel and Casino opened on the site in July 1967. It was later renamed the New Bonanza Hotel and Casino shortly before construction on the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, owned by Kirk Kerkorian, began. It opened in 1973 with 2,084 rooms for the then staggering cost of $106m and was the largest hotel in the world at that time.
The MGM Grand opened as one of Las Vegas’s first megaresorts on December 5, 1973. It was the largest hotel in the world at its opening and would remain so for several years. When the hotel was built, it set a new standard of size and luxury in Las Vegas, and is considered to have made the biggest impact on Las Vegas until the construction of Steve Wynn’s Mirage Hotel in the late 1980s.
The hotel had a movie theme to reflect Kirk Kerkorian’s interest in movies from his ownership of MGM and the hotel’s use of MGM in its name. The hotel was designed by architect Martin Stern, Jr. It featured many amenities, including numerous entertainment options. It offered live jai alai for betting and a large shopping arcade with numerous shops and restaurants.
It was also one of the Strip’s most popular entertainment destinations. It featured two large theaters: The Zeigfield Stage and the Celebrity Room. The Zeigfield regularly featured productions by famed Las Vegas choreographer Donn Arden including the long running Jubilee! and Hallelujah Hollywood. Dean Martin was the starring act for the Grand Opening on December 23, 1973. Sergio Franchi was the first entertainer signed to star in the Celebrity Room (three-year contract starting February 1974). Franchi’s frequent co-star was comedienne Joan Rivers. The Celebrity Room also hosted such acts as The Carpenters and Barry Manilow.
On November 21, 1980 the MGM Grand suffered a fire that started in a casino restaurant and traveled up into the hotel, killing 85 guests and employees. The Grand was rebuilt in only eight months, and remodeling added a tower which opened in 1981. The tower had been under construction at the time of the fire, but remained undamaged. The fire made such an impact on hotel safety that it led to the implementation of fire safety improvements worldwide.
Sale to Bally
The hotel was sold in 1985 to Bally Entertainment Corporation for $594m and the property’s name was changed to Bally’s (the MGM Grand name was transferred to the former Marina Hotel, now known as MGM Grand Las Vegas). Bally Entertainment was purchased in 1995 by Hilton Hotels Corporation. On April 17, 1997, ground was broken on a sibling property, the Paris Las Vegas. In September 1999, the new resort was opened and tightly integrated with Bally’s property by a promenade. For many years, the two resorts operated under a single gaming license.
Hilton’s casino resorts division was subsequently spun off and became Caesars Entertainment Inc in 2003. The hotel’s North tower was renovated in 2004. Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment Corporation) acquired the property with its purchase of Caesars in June 2005.