LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In 1979, craftsmen and artisans labored for over a year to complete the massive stained glass interior dome for the Tropicana Hotel, but now a local artist hopes the ceiling can be saved before a new Major League Baseball stadium shatters a piece of Las Vegas history.

Bally’s Corporation, owners of the Tropicana Las Vegas, announced in January the 66-year-old property will close its doors on April 2, to pave way for the Oakland A’s new home.

“Following demolition, site prep and approval of formal plans, construction of the Las Vegas A’s stadium will likely begin sometime thereafter,” Robeson Reeves, Bally’s CEO, said in a quarterly earnings call.

However, the fate of the 3,745 square foot art piece is significant to Rick Falzone, owner of Southwest Stained Glass and Sin City Glass Art.

Rick Falzone, owner of Southwest Stained Glass and Sin City Glass Art. (KLAS)

“It seems a shame to just implode it,” he said. “From a historic standpoint, it’s only 50 years old but that’s like one of the oldest things in Vegas.”

Falzone needs no stained-glass credentials, his works sit in revered rooms across Southern Nevada: The Golden Steer, MGM, The Arizona Club, The Spring’s Preserve and Pioneer Saloon.

After a suggestion from his brother, Falzone walked under the glass ceiling for the first time 43 years ago.

“I was amazed,” he said. “The painted glass, the faces and the angels.”

Falzone says if Bally’s wants to preserve the delicate artwork, they will need to have specialists—not construction crews—carefully take apart the ceiling.

“You’d need to carefully disassemble it and archive it and number the pieces as they’re coming out so when it’s going back together you know what goes where,” he said. “It’s going to be a big puzzle.”

A Real Pane

Judson Studios, a Los Angeles based company specializing in stained glass, was contracted to complete the $200,000 project and Falzone says the engineers had an unusual obstacle due to the Las Vegas Strip.

“There was quite a bit of concern regarding the settling of the building and vibrations from the street,” Falzone said. “When they constructed the framework, they made it on top of shock absorbers so basically its floating in that space above the main pit.”

The effort to save the tiffany-style glass is only half the battle as currently there is nowhere to place ceiling once it is removed.

“Why couldn’t it be incorporated into the new A’s stadium?” Falzone said. “I think it would bring together the new and the old and pave the way for the future.”

With 50 years of glass working expertise under his belt, Falzone says he would be happy to get behind the panels of the ceiling and work with the original studio to figure out the de-installation process and possibly make the reconstruction more compact.

“There’s a way to scale it down a bit,” he said. “To save the most important bits, the stuff that’s painted for sure because that’s all painted by hand.”

Falzone noted the price of each square foot of stained glass has gone up considerably in value estimating the current value of the Tropicana’s stained glass ceiling at $4 million dollars.

Diane Spiers, VP Marketing Strategy & Public Relations at Bally’s, responded to 8 News Now about the future of the interior dome saying in part, “Once plans are finalized, [we] will be happy to share them.”

A spokesperson for the Clark County Heritage Museum said the complex design, size and needed indoor presentation of the ceiling would make preserving it and allowing the public to appreciate it a complicated problem for a museum.

For the time being no plan has been announced for the stained glass, leaving some to speculate whether nearly 50 years of Las Vegas history will crack under the pressure of progress.

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