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Rod Smith

New York-New York Gets New Marquee Sign

17 November 2003

LAS VEGAS --New York, the city, is well-known for its Jumbotron in Times Square, but New York-New York, the hotel-casino, has been the only Strip destination without a marquee of its own.

Now, for the first time since it was built in 1997 at the intersection of the Strip and Tropicana Avenue, that's about to change. Work is wrapping up on the hotel-casino's new $10 million marquee sign.

"This is said to be the busiest intersection in the world -- 28 million cars a year go past the intersection a year," New York-New York President Felix Rappaport said. "That opportunity to share messages is pretty hard to pass up."

The 222-foot-high sign has been designed strategically to draw guests from other Strip properties into the New York-New York casino and its related amenities, much as a carney hawks shows to get gawkers off a carnival midway and into his tent.

An Australian couple passing by the still-under-construction sign recently said they'd always wanted to go to New York City and had been prepared to forgo the resort for the real thing.

"But when we saw Rita Rudner and everything going on, we had to go in and check it out," said the Johnsons, who ended up trying the resort's roller-coaster and buying tickets for Rudner's show.

If the Johnsons are any barometer, the new sign is already starting to work exactly the way Rappaport wanted.

"The goal is attracting people from other properties. Obviously, we want to offer great things for our guests, but our goal is to be a net importer of guests to our property," Rappaport said.

The New York-New York marquee has static panels made of Panaflex, a translucent graphic film used in signs, facing north and south to promote Zumanity, Rudner's show and other long-term entertainment at the resort.

It also has an light-emitting diode sign that allows for changing messages, Rappaport said.

And it has a zipper board, much like the Jumbotron in Times Square, on which New York-New York can run text messages.

Altogether, the resort can beam out as many as four different messages simultaneously in each direction, Rappaport said.

He called the technology involved "the most sophisticated on the Strip."

"I can't tell you why (the original developers) didn't put up a marquee, but the building has always been its own marquee. This was the first specifically themed resort on the Strip: the Manhattan skyline of the 1940s," Rappaport said.

"The thought was the property was so compelling on the outside, it would draw people to the inside. But the real need for a marquee is the fact the front of the building is great, but the messages keep changing on the inside. The sign gives people hints of what's on the inside."

He added that although New York-New York will not sell advertising space on its marquee, it will support its sister properties and the amenities they offer, especially MGM Grand, which is across the street.

Susan Fleitz, senior vice president for advertising at MGM Mirage, which owns New York-New York, said marquee signs let the company showcase the entertainment and dining at all of its properties.

She said MGM Mirage uses its marquees to pump retail and shopping experiences, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts, "O" performances and the like.

"We use the signs as information and branding vehicles," Fleitz said. "MGM prides itself on being the best in the industry and the best in the city. We want to show it off and have as many people as possible come into our properties."

Each MGM Mirage property has its own identity and personality, and their marquees can help reflect that, Fleitz said.

"(The signs have to present) the experience you're going to have at the property, but the primary goal is to increase the foot traffic through the properties," she said.

Although it won't sell advertising space on its new sign, Rappaport said it will support long-term vendors such as Pepsi-Cola and Panasonic.

New York-New York's new marquee sign, like most other new signs along the Strip, was designed and built by Ogden, Utah-based Young Electric Sign Co.