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Where A Mega-Resort Once Would Have Reigned, A City Of Rock Will Arise

April 22, 2014 at 12:14 AM | by | ()

Once upon a time, MGM Resorts (or MGM MIRAGE as it was known at that time) had hoped to bring two new mega-resorts to Las Vegas. CityCenter arrived, but plans to turn a vacant plot of land next to Circus Circus (and across the Strip from what is soon-to-be SLS Las Vegas) into a second tourist destination died when the economy went south. That multi-billion dollar mega-resort was to have been a partnership with Kerzner, the company best known for its Atlantis resorts.

If everything had gone as planned, that resort would have debuted in 2012. It didn't. Fast forward seven years and that acreage is still a wasteland. But, not for much longer. MGM Resorts plans to custom build a $20 million, 33-acre "City of Rock" on the site as part of plans to host the US debut of Rock in Rio (RiR), one of the world's biggest music festivals.

In 2007, an MGM executive heralded the land as "a prime location in the heart of a rapidly developing area of the Las Vegas Strip." That is still true today (if you overlook the husk of Fontainebleau) with the approaching completion of the SLS and the eventual arrival of Resorts World. And, it certainly looks as if MGM plans to capitalize on that as this "City of Rock" won't be a temporary structure, but a permanent venue featuring five stages, attractions that will include a zip line and a Ferris wheel (yes, both are now requirements for any new Vegas experience), and, in the case of RiR, themed blocks "boasting the sights, sounds and foods of Brazil, the U.S. and the United Kingdom." When not in use by RiR, the grounds will be used for athletic, food and additional concert events.

Brazil is where Rock in Rio was born, first springing to life in 1985 to the delight of 1.38 million attendees. Over the years, the fest has expanded to additional countries, but never to the US. That will change when Rock in Rio arrives in Las Vegas in May 2015 for its 30th anniversary. Events will take place over two consecutive weekends for the inaugural year with hopes to expand to from four to six days when it returns in 2017. It's anticipated that our "City of Rock" will welcome 80,000 music lovers a day.

While it may sound like Electric Daisy Carnival or Life Is Beautiful, organizers promise it will be like nothing Sin City has ever seen before. They say their attention to detail, commitment to quality and high standards will set them apart. Founder Roberto Medina, who is still learning English and spoke to us through a translator in Portuguese which this writer was totally drooling over cool with, relayed that the festival will appeal to a wide demographic, from teens to those in their 50s and beyond. Although, expected headliners have yet to be released, past RiR performers have included The Rolling Stones, Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Shakira and Lorde.

Also not yet released? Pricing. Medina indicated there would be single and multi-day passes available and that a single day admission might run around $145, offering 12 hours of admission to both the city itself and its rides while food and beverages would need to be purchased separately. Tickets are expected to go on sale in January 2015 although they can be reserved now online, for a limited time and with no financial obligation. (Basically, registering with RiR will provide you access to the ticket pre-sale event.) Expect to hear more about RiR in Las Vegas over the coming months almost everywhere you turn. Cirque du Soleil and iHeart Radio are also sponsors with more to be announced. Additionally, a major media launch is planned for Times Square on September 26.

The "City of Rock" will be located on Las Vegas Boulevard at Sahara. To see a larger version of the rendering at top, visit VegasChatter on Facebook.

(RENDERING: MGM Resorts/Rock In Rio)

Archived Comments:

Rock in Rio

That's great news! I live in Rio, I've been in 3 RIR's till now... hoping for the 4th in Vegas!


Better have top notch bands for $145.More than Disneyland.If it included drinks it would be worth it. Im a big drinker..CHEERS!

Oh Yeah!

Wow - the North end of The Strip just gets better and better.  I'm really looking forward to this one.  My bet is we'll see other dead and dormant projects in the area revived or rehabilitated too.

too tiny...

33 acres and 80,000 people ? are they high.  EDC is on 122 acres and 120,000 people.  


I double checked with an EDC rep and the festival is spread out over 1,000 acres and will host about 133,000 a day this year. Does that make Rock in Rio's stats better or worse?

Like Milwaukee Summerfest

If they play their cards right, MGM should take notes from Milwaukee Summerfest who have been doing this since 1968 and are still going strong.

For 11 days each year, Milwaukee hosts tons of bands across most genres with food, comedy, rides, shopping and family activities. When the festival isn't happening they host other cultural festivals like Irish, Pride, Polish and Oktoberfest.

Can you imagine how this could definitely change the outdoor game over there? I'm keeping my fingers crossed.  

Where to stay?

Which is closer Circus Circus or SLS? We want least amount of walking, close to all the action!