In Memoriam: USS Enterprise Las Vegas
This edition of In Memoriam is an unusual one, in that the attraction we are covering was never actually built. In 2012, the Goddard Group, a conceptual design firm specializing in themed attractions, announced that an unbuilt attraction, the USS Enterprise Las Vegas, had been the frontrunner project for the redevelopment of Downtown Las Vegas.
The project, with an estimated cost of $150 Million in 1992, would have been one of the largest projects of its kind ever constructed. Longer than the Eiffel Tower, the USS Enterprise Las Vegas would have sat in the heart of the Downtown area, and would have contained retail, entertainment, and rides that would have thrilled Star Trek fans and casual guests alike.
We’ve covered Las Vegas’ history with Star Trek before, but this project would have become a visual landmark for the entire city, and would have drawn much needed business away from the strip and into the Downtown area. The project was so large, that passing air traffic would have been able to see it clearly from the air.
The city of Las Vegas loved the project, as did the Mayor, and Sherry Lansing, Vice President of Licensing at Paramount, the studio that owns the Star Trek franchise was on board. However, one person ultimately killed the project, then CEO of Paramount, Stanley Jaffe.
‘All of our work, the effort to get Paramount, the Mayor, and redevelopment committee aligned, everything had come to this moment. We were ready to go. Money in place, land provided by the city, license for the property negotiated with Paramount licensing – all set. If Mr. Jaffe says “yes” and we are a “go” project. And the city wanted to have a press conference within a week announcing the project.
So with everyone in the room, I take Mr. Jaffe through the project. With the art, the plans, the overall concept. After my spirited “pitch” everyone was beaming – everyone except Mr. Jaffe. Mr. Jaffe thanked us for the effort, and he congratulated us on creating a bold concept and presentation, and then went into a speech that went something like this:
“You know, this is a major project. You’re going to put a full-scale ENTERPRISE up in the heart of Las Vegas. And on one hand that sounds exciting. But on another hand, it might not be a great idea for us – for Paramount.” Everyone in the room was stunned, most of all, me, because I could see where this was going. “In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it’s a flop – we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But THIS – this is different. If this doesn’t work – if this is not a success – it’s there, forever….” I remember thinking to myself “oh my god, this guy does NOT get it….” And he said “I don’t want to be the guy that approved this and then it’s a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever.”
And with that, Mr. Jaffe in a single moment, destroyed about five months of work by a host of people, and killed one of the greatest ideas of all time.
Stanley waltzed out of the room and I think everyone was stunned. No one could believe it. But our dream pretty much ended there. Sherry Lansing was stunned and apologized to the room and followed her boss out. The Paramount licensing team was embarrassed to say the least, and of course, they were also realizing they had just lost out on millions of dollars in future licensing revenues too. The Mayor and the redevelopment committee were just depressed I think. But they thanked me for all the efforts I put into it, and for making the meetings with Paramount possible, and then they headed back to Las Vegas’.
The project was eventually replaced by the Fremont Street Experience, which has revitalized Downtown Las Vegas somewhat, but no to the scale of a USS Enterprise shaped retail/Theme Park experience. Many people are devastated that this was never built, including us. Have a look below for some more concept art, pulled from Collider and copyright the Goddard Group:
What do you think of the USS Enterprise Las Vegas? Let us know in the comments!