Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 | 6:30 a.m.
Derek Stevens has been building bits of buzz and excitement in downtown Las Vegas since he and his brother Greg bought a stake in the Golden Gate on Fremont Street in October 2006. On Thursday night, Stevens unveiled his biggest project yet, the first new casino resort to be built downtown in decades.
Circa Resort & Casino is slated to open in December 2020 in the space formerly occupied by the Las Vegas Club where Fremont Street meets Main Street. As displayed in a flashy video played across a huge screen for an audience of hundreds inside a tent at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, Circa will have 777 hotel rooms, a two-story casino, a range of restaurants, a spa and the longest outdoor bar on Fremont Street, as well as a state-of-the-art parking structure and “transportation hub,” a rooftop pool amphitheater and a multi-level, stadium-style sportsbook Stevens called the largest in Las Vegas history.
Those latter features support Stevens’ explanation that Circa was conceived and designed as a new attraction inspired by a grand tradition of Las Vegas-style excitement.
“This isn’t the best pool downtown or the best pool on the Strip. What we’re doing is developing the best pool in the history of America. We’re building the best sportsbook in the history of America,” Stevens said. “In my opinion, this is going to bring people from Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cheyenne and Denver. I don’t really view it as competing with any one property.
“The key thing is this is going to increase the size of the pie. It’s very similar to what’s happening with sports betting around the country. It’s not that New Jersey or Mississippi is hurting Las Vegas on sports betting. Hell, the pie’s gotten a lot bigger. That’s the way I view this project.”
Circa’s sportsbook will be equipped the biggest screen in sportsbook history as well as an in-house broadcast studio created in a partnership with sports gaming and media company Vegas Stats and Information Network (VISN). The rooftop pool deck will have six swimming pools, capacity for 4,000 people and a 125-foot screen that will be used for sports watch parties among other programming. And “Garage Mahal” will be the first garage facility and porte-cochere to be designed with ride-sharing technology in mind.
“It’s going to be the key hub for Uber, Lyft and all of ride sharing,” Stevens said. “This technology was never around when any other casino resort was designed. This is the first one where all the elements, how it works, how people get off the highway, will be integrated right into the resort.”
Construction is underway on the 1.25-million-square-foot property. Steelman Partners is overseeing architecture and design of the resort with Tre Builders as construction manager and McCarthy Building Companies Inc. as contractor.
Stevens, who owns and operates two Fremont Street casinos, the Golden Gate and the D, as well as the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, took inspiration for Circa from the city’s long line of gaming pioneers and their boundary-pushing projects. Before it announced the name and showed off the look of the new resort, the video ticked off the names and casinos created by legends like Jackie Gaughan, Benny Binion, Jay Sarno, Sam Boyd and others.
“It’s a combination of all these great entrepreneurs, all these men and women who came up with these ideas at that moment, in their eras, and created a wow moment,” he said. “That’s what I think Las Vegas is based upon, doing something bigger, better, more unique and different.”
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who finished her State of the City address right before the unveiling event, said she believes Circa will have a major impact on Las Vegas.
“Everybody looks to see what’s next and what’s happening and this Circa takes the lid off,” she said. “It will bring more business and more focus downtown because of [Stevens] and we’re so proud.”