Inside gaming column: Implosion guests take an unplanned powder

19 March 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Invited guests attending Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Stardust implosion viewing party last week might have saved a few dollars on dry cleaning had the original location for the company's gathering been available.

The guests, along with Boyd executives, thousands of spectators, and several media members, were showered by a large dust cloud that engulfed the Strip following the early morning implosion.

Boyd didn't plan it that way.

After closing the Stardust in November, the company was highly secretive about the demolition's time and date. Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell said the plan was to keep spectators at a minimum for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, the company decided to arrange a private viewing party across the Strip at the Top of the Riviera. The hotel's penthouse ballroom had a direct view of the Stardust. As the final implosion date was being set, Stillwell asked Danielle Clark of Porter Novelli, Boyd Gaming's public relations firm, to make the necessary arrangements.

When Clark called the Riviera, she was told the room was booked by casino marketing for that particular evening. Clark asked what special event would be taking place that night. Riviera staff told her they heard the Stardust was being imploded.

"I said, 'You've got to be kidding me,'" Stillwell recalled. "We had formulated a target date, but it wasn't set in stone."

Boyd Gaming kept the date and arranged with the New Frontier to have its viewing area in the casino's north parking lot. About 500 attended the event as guests of Boyd and LVI Services, which directed the Stardust demolition.

Boyd Gaming produced its own video package of the Stardust implosion, using 14 cameras, including seven that recorded the implosion from inside the 32-story structure. The footage was uplinked to media outlets around the world. Stillwell said late last week the coverage had received more than 5,000 hits worldwide.

Among the media recording the Stardust's demise were cameras controlled by Hollywood movie director John Landis, whose films include "Animal House" and "An American Werewolf in London." Landis filmed the implosion for a documentary on comedian Don Rickles.

Boyd Gaming executive Robert Boughner, who is overseeing development of the $4.4 billion Echelon, didn't discount the name Stardust reappearing somewhere, although probably not as a hotel-casino.

"Stardust may not necessarily occur at Echelon, but it's a name we intend to keep," Boughner said. "There may be a utilization by the company of the Stardust name in other applications at our other properties."

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Review-Journal gaming and tourism writers Howard Stutz, Benjamin Spillman and Arnold M. Knightly. Send your tips about the gaming and tourism industry to insidegaming@reviewjournal.com.


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