Bellagio’s New Trees Are Dead

Sin City may hold the unlikely position of national leader in water preservation and recycling. But as MGM found out this week, keeping trees alive in the middle of the Nevada desert is still hard work. 

Leading Las Vegas casino operator MGM Resorts International said it plans to replace 13 dead fir trees in front of the iconic fountains outside its Bellagio casino resort. 

A dozen trees were originally removed in late September 2023 to make way for luxury grandstand spectator seating during that November’s F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix. 

MGM replanted the same number of trees in December. Now, most of them have died. 

The operator has promised to replace them as soon as next week. 

“After consulting with third-party experts, we determined that several trees alongside Las Vegas Boulevard need replacing. We sustainably sourced trees that are designed to be durable and resilient for our environment,” said a statement emailed to media outlets. 

“Our horticulture and landscaping teams continually evaluate our properties and make changes as needed to ensure we are doing what’s best for our guests and the environment.”

Grand Prix Grandstanding 

The original trees, some of which had been outside the casino since the mid ’90s, were removed in September. 

They were replaced with a 3,600-seater Grand Prix grandstand that saw tickets sell for $13,000. 

Packages included unlimited drinks, chef-prepared food, and fountain side views of the race, as drivers whizzed by at 200 miles-per-hour speed. 

Las Vegas may bring in huge gambling revenues from big ticket sporting events like the Grand Prix or the recent February Super Bowl LVIII.

However, the Bellagio fountains are one of the most-photographed places in the world. Its trees also offer some welcome shade on the-often sweltering Las Vegas Strip. So, somewhat predictably, when they were removed for the Grand Prix, there was public outcry. 

The operator swiftly bought in new trees in planters kept in a shady location on the edge of the MGM property until the race weekend was over. 

New Trees Next Week 

The replacement trees were planted in early December. In January, they were certified healthy by an arborealist. But, by March, their condition deteriorated. 

MGM says the planting of the newest trees could begin Monday, and hopes to be finished by Friday, April 19. It also pointed out that another half-dozen new pine trees installed separately last December are doing well. 

The newly selected species will be a more suitable choice for the climate, and will comply with Southern Nevada Water Authority guidelines for responsible water usage. 

The company has not said how much it will cost to replace the trees. However, we asked ChatGPT for a ballpark estimate, given the parameters of the situation. It said between $5,000 to $10,000.

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