“If you build it, they will come” has always been a fairly safe operating principle in Las Vegas, at least as far as the gambling, partying masses are concerned. Whether it’s a safe bet for attracting marquee name pop stars to desert residencies, however, is something that Caesars Entertainment Corp. is about to find out.
Last winter, the Caesars-owned Planet Hollywood opened a permanent residency space for Britney Spears, rebuilding the Axis Theater into a 4,600-seat venue that functions as a hybrid performance venue and nightclub, with state-of-the-art production facilities and a bottle service-style customer experience designed by nightlife entrepreneur Victor Drai. The initial results were immensely promising: The star sold out every night of her “Britney: Piece of Me” run, with dates scheduled all the way through spring 2015.
This represents a major turnaround for a theater that, per Spears’ manager Larry Rudolph, was something of a “white elephant … a 7,000-seat arena that was booked for maybe 10 shows a year” prior to Spears’ arrival. Yet Spears only performs three nights a week, with weeks-long breaks programmed into her schedule. So the question of how to exploit the $20 million theater — and in doing so, use Spears’ residency as a proof of concept to attract a new breed of acts — remains a pressing one.
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