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Jennifer Robison

Tropicana to Remain Open

14 March 2006

LAS VEGAS -- Employees and customers alike were pleased to learn that the Tropicana, long the subject of tear-down rumors, will remain open for at least two more years.

"I'm happy they're keeping it open because we have so many customers who love this place and come steadily," said a food and beverage employee who was on-site midday Monday and hadn't heard about Aztar Corp.'s sale of the Tropicana until a reporter informed him of it.

Concerned regulars would often ask about the potential shutdown of the Tropicana, the worker said.

"They were worried because they like the old-style, old-fashioned atmosphere," the employee said.

The Review-Journal will not disclose the worker's name because Kathleen Bogen, vice president of marketing for the Tropicana, told a reporter on the property that employees quoted in the newspaper would face dismissal.

The employee said there was no need for extensive changes at the Tropicana, but he said he's hoping for "innovation" -- perhaps in the form of a nightclub that would lure a new client base.

Joe Cole, Aztar's vice president of corporate communications, said the company informed workers on Monday of the ownership change via letters from Aztar's executives.

Cole was unable to say what time the property's staff received the letters.

Customers playing the slots at the Tropicana on Monday also said they were glad the hotel-casino would live a while longer.

David Kusz, of Sun City, Ariz., has stayed at the Tropicana about 10 times since 1984. The room prices are reasonable, Kusz said, and he and his wife, Lucy, always receive attentive service.

Kusz said he didn't see a need for significant changes at the Tropicana. He'd like to see some ticket-in, ticket-out slots, because he doesn't care for touching "dirty coins," he said. Plus, he said, the entertainment lineup could use fresh additions.

"The Folies Bergere has been here a long time," Kusz said.

Mariano and Sheila Duva, of Livonia, Mich., have stayed at the Tropicana once or twice a year since the late 1990s.

The Duvas have tried out newer Strip resorts, including New York-New York and the Monte Carlo, but Mariano Duva said he's most comfortable at the Tropicana.

"We've always had a decent room, good meals and good shows, and the people here are nice to talk to," he said. "It's not as flashy or modern as some of the other hotels, but we're happy with it."

Duva said he wouldn't change much at the Tropicana.

"The way it is now, we're used to it," he said. "We always find the little spot where we like to gamble, and we've had a lot of good luck here."

Midland, Mich., residents Margaret and Nick Tomczak were parked on Monday morning at the quarter slots under the arched, stained-glass ceiling inside the hotel's front entrance. The couple, in town for the NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 and staying at the Hawthorne Suites just east of the Tropicana, have been to Las Vegas four times but had never been inside the resort before their current trip.

Since they stopped in for the first time a few days ago, the Tomczaks have returned to the Tropicana three times.

"There aren't very many of the original (casinos) left," said Margaret Tomczak, gesturing to the ornate ceiling. "This is a piece of history. They should keep the '50s-'60s style. The glasswork is just fabulous."

Tomczak said she enjoys the Strip's newer hotel-casinos as well, but nostalgia calls for preserving a bit of the resort corridor's history.

"I come here to see the old parts (of the Strip), too," she said. "This is the way Las Vegas started. As long as they keep it updated, it's exciting to come here."

Nick Tomczak requested just one change.

"Help me win more money," he said.