LAS VEGAS – Robbie Knievel has less than a month to study the fire-spewing volcanic terrain around his next motorcycle stunt. Luckily for him, it’s Las Vegas, where eruptions between now and then are scheduled hourly, every night.
Knievel, the 46-year-old son of the late daredevil Evel Knievel, will jump the refurbished volcano at The Mirage hotel-casino on a motorcycle as part of a television special on New Year’s Eve.
“We pretty much own Vegas,” Knievel said. “I’ll shut the (Las Vegas) Strip down for the third time.”
Knievel said the stunt will likely be his last in the United States.
Mirage officials unveiled a $25 million facelift for the casino’s iconic erupting volcano on Monday night, a 5-minute fire and water spectacle to a custom soundtrack co-written by former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.
The rupturing rock joins the likes of other Strip sidewalk acts including the fountains at the Bellagio and the coed pirate show at Treasure Island.
“This volcano is our crowning jewel,” said Scott Sibella, president and chief operating officer of The Mirage. “It’s the final piece of the puzzle.”
Sibella said the premiere eruption marked the end of more than three years the company has spent overhauling the 19-year-old megaresort. During that time, MGM Mirage Inc. has spent $110 million upgrading rooms and suites at the hotel.
The Mirage was developed by casino mogul Steve Wynn and opened in November 1989. The city’s first megaresort, it kicked off a wave of billion-dollar projects on the Strip.
“We continue to make the place more attractive,” Sibella told The Associated Press after a pair of inaugural volcano eruptions for reporters, special guests and onlookers. “You have to in Las Vegas to stay competitive.”
Sibella said he believed the overhaul at The Mirage would be the last major improvements to a Strip resort for a few years, as casino companies struggle to get financing for capital projects. Sibella said the company believed it had to finish the volcano and other improvements at The Mirage because the projects were well under way when the credit crunch hit casinos and other industries.
Mayor Oscar Goodman said the volcano was a reminder of how Las Vegas continually reinvents itself.
“We don’t implode ourselves anymore. … We recreate ourselves,” he said.
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