Las Vegas is the exact opposite of staying home.
Sometimes, it feels as if the coronavirus pandemic could have been created specifically to destroy the Las Vegas Strip and Southern Nevada’s position as the top travel destination in the world. The Strip’s peerless entertainment and leisure offerings—shows and concerts, sports and shopping, restaurants and nightclubs—are experiences built on a rock-solid foundation of elite venues.
But they’re closed for now. Even though there are still tickets on sale for events like The Who at the Colosseum (May 5), Michael Bublé at T-Mobile Arena (May 9) and Lady Gaga at Park Theater (May 13), everything is hopeful at best at this point.
The shutdown hit the Strip when it could do the most damage. Las Vegas had nearly 3.7 million visitors in March 2019, enjoying St. Patrick’s Day, spring break, pool club season and basketball betting for March Madness. And those are just the annual events Vegas will miss this year; there are many unique-for-2020 entertainment happenings that have been postponed or canceled, some particularly significant.
Big-name concert tours have been tabled across the country, but Strip residencies are only-in-Vegas experiences. Several resident headliners have postponed March and April dates, but other new shows didn’t get the chance to get started. The Jonas Brothers canceled their planned nine-show April series at Park Theater and have not indicated those concerts will be made up. Kelly Clarkson pushed her new Invincible residency at Zappos Theater from April 1 to July 29. At press time, the opening of Sting’s new My Songs engagement at the Colosseum was still set for May 22.
Cirque du Soleil was already having a tough month before the devastation of the shutdown. New Luxor resident show R.U.N closed on March 8 after struggling to find its audience for four months, and the annual Cirque-affiliated One Night for One Drop charity fundraising event planned at that venue was canceled in the days leading up to the shutdown. Las Vegas also missed its chance to see a different touring Cirque production, Axel, at T-Mobile Arena in April, as the company closed all operations worldwide.
Several smaller-scale but still significant new production shows will have to fight their way onto their respective stages when the smoke clears. Extravaganza was performed once at Bally’s Jubilee Theater before casinos were closed. America’s Got Talent favorite act iLuminate was set to open at Planet Hollywood’s Sin City Theater on March 26 and is now in a holding pattern, and An Evening With Whitney: The Whitney Houston Hologram Concert, planned for April at the Flamingo Showroom, now has listed dates in September and October.
There’s been one big bright spot in Vegas entertainment news in the past two weeks: Garth Brooks sold out his August 22 concert at Allegiant Stadium, moving more than 65,000 tickets in 75 minutes on March 13. It will be the first concert event at the new megavenue built for the Las Vegas Raiders, which is soldiering on with construction through the shutdown. If anything, it’s an indication people are looking forward to coming back to Las Vegas as soon as this thing is over.