LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caesars Entertainment Corp. plans to open a $550 million outdoor promenade on the Las Vegas Strip in June 2013, linking its casinos on the east side of the boulevard with restaurants, bars and a 550-foot observation wheel.
Calling the Linq project Sin City's first major development after the Great Recession took its toll on tourism, Caesars spokeswoman Jan Jones told reporters Wednesday that the construction will employ 3,000 workers to build something that will cater to 21- to 46-year-olds — a set of tourists expected to make up more than half the market in four years.
"We're not just building another casino or hotel rooms — another big box — because quite frankly we don't think that's what Las Vegas needs," Jones said. "We have enough rooms, we have enough slot machines. What we need is new energy and new attractions that continue to bring customers to Las Vegas — and new customers."
The centerpiece of the project is a soaring wheel — taller than the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer — with spherical air-conditioned cabins that can hold 40 people each and take 30 minutes to make one revolution.
The wheel is designed to hold as many as 1,120 passengers at one time, with individual rides costing less than $20 each.
The project will call for the existing O'Sheas casino on the Strip to be closed and moved to make way for the Linq's pedestrian entrance from the Strip.
Rick Mazer, vice president of five of Caesars' casinos that run contiguously roughly along one-third of a mile of Las Vegas Boulevard, said O'Sheas will be incorporated into a rebranded, redone Imperial Palace. Mazer said Caesars will no longer lease the Imperial Palace name and will rebrand the casino.
Greg Miller, Caesars' vice president of development, said the project is fully funded and will begin major construction next year, though preparations will begin in September.
"Our project has every penny we need to complete it, sitting in the bank," Miller said.
Caesars, the privately owned world's largest gambling company, raised $450 million in financing for Linq and the unfinished interior of its Octavius Tower at Caesars Palace in April. The loan matures in 2017.
Caesars lost $155.5 million during the second quarter this year.
Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .