Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 18, 2013

Las Vegas Strip to get New York-style public park

(Continued)

Strip casinos have traditionally invested in grand facades and outdoor gimmicks including exploding volcanoes and dancing fountains in the service of luring people inside.

This is the town that has perfected the art of painting clouds, sun, and changing light onto the ceilings of malls and hotels to give visitors the illusion of being outside.

Visitors to Las Vegas craving desert breezes, outdoor concerts and a sense time passing have traditionally had to travel a few miles north of the Strip to Freemont Street downtown, where lower-rent casinos open onto a promenade covered by an arching LED-screen canopy.

Now, casino bosses are starting to believe their patrons might enjoy a bit of fresh air.

The rise of pool parties and the success of the statue-filled plaza at Caesars Palace illustrate people's willingness to tolerate the 117 degree desert afternoons for a bit of people-watching and leg-stretching, Murren said.

Caesars Entertainment Corp., which operates Caesars Palace, is planning its own outdoor shopping and dining "district" on the Strip. That project, Linq, is anchored by a 550-foot-tall observation wheel slated to open in 2014.

Murren said he expects to see more casinos pursuing this tack as companies look to entice a new kind of patron. Modern visitors simply will not tolerate being confined to a single space anymore, he said.

"They like darting in and out of events, bars, lounges, clubs," he said. "That's an encouraging sign for us, because in the old days, Las Vegas was a place where gamblers went on vacation. Now it's a place where people may go on vacation and not gamble at all."

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