MGM Grand, Las Vegas (now Bally’s)

Las Vegas, Nevada

Financier mogul Kirk Kerkorian, who had just sold his mega International Hotel to Hilton, now wanted a Las Vegas theme hotel that flaunted the image of the famous movie studio that he had just acquired and the great MGM movie “Grand Hotel.” He turned to the architect of the International, Martin Stern Jr. to design his new monument.

Built on the former site of the Three Coins Motel and the Bonanza Hotel, (both designed by Homer Rissman) the MGM Grand, which opened in 1973, was truly grandiose with an epic porte cochere guarded by a statue of Neptune, and an entry drive which seemed to stretch a half-mile back from the Strip. (Bally’s later constructed a lengthy moving walkway to get pedestrians from the hotel entrance to the Strip.) The cavernous MGM Grand Theater was especially designed for Donn Arden’s epic show Halleluiah Hollywood and the later Jubilee which is still running.
The famous MGM Fire of 1980 killed 85 people, mostly by smoke inhalation. The fire started as an electrical ground fault in a restaurant called the Deli and spread quickly across the second floor casino and restaurants. Most of the deaths occurred in the stairwells of the upper floors of the hotel. The second tower which was not affected by the fire was opened the following year. Kerkorian sold the hotel to Bally’s after the fire.


front face and entrance of the MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, circa late 1970s

MGM Grand Hotel, circa late 1970s
Postcard of the MGM Grand Hotel at night, Las Vegas, before 1981

MGM Grand Hotel at night, before 1981
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Location of Project

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  • 1972

    MGM Grand original construction

  • 1973

    MGM Grand (now Bally's) opens

  • 1980

    MGM Grand fire

  • 1980

    2nd Tower constructed for $50,000,000

  • 1981

    MGM Grand fire remodel

  • 1985

    MGM Grand becomes Bally's

  • 1993

    MGM Grand Las Vegas opens one block south of original MGM Grand (now Bally's)

  • 1995

     Bally's purchased by Hilton Hotels Corporation

  • 1999

    Bally's sister property Paris Las Vegas built and connected to Bally’s by a promenade

  • 2003

    Bally's property sold to Caesars Entertainment, Inc.

  • 2004

    Bally's North Tower renovated

Skyline Comments
Photograph of a rendering of the International Hotel (Las Vegas), circa 1968:
This is a great image. Thanks
Photograph of men playing faro in a Fremont Street casino (Las Vegas), circa 1930:
I love this picture and the other one you have on the Faro Game. Please let me know How I...
Film transparency of the swimming pool and patio of the Thunderbird Hotel (Las Vegas), circa 1950s:
The 1950'S images are great! Do you have more like this and how can I order reproductions?