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Vegas GP a boon to downtown Vegas hotels
Lucky guests at the Plaza and Main Street Station will wander up to their rooms this weekend and realize they've got some of the best seats in town for the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix.

They may have paid as little as $50 for a room that's nearly the equivalent of a trackside VIP suite.

Hotel marketing executives are catching on. Some room rates have been adjusted slightly higher for this weekend -- up to $179 a night at the Golden Gate, which has only 106 rooms.

The Plaza Web site is promoting "the perfect opportunity to view the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix from a prime viewing location." The west side of the 1,064-room hotel looks out over the start-finish line and straightaway on Grand Central Parkway, where cars will reach 185 mph.

Room rates start at $69 at the Plaza, down from $149 about a month ago.

"I think that's how the hotel business works," said Plaza spokesman Mark Fierro. "You wait until the big weekend, and then you make adjustments. If you have strong occupancy, you take rates up. If not, you drop your rates."

The Golden Nugget has rooms starting at $129 in the south tower and $155 in the north tower for Saturday night, while parlor suites and spa suites are sold out. The track winds around the hotel on Carson Avenue, First Street, Bridger Avenue and Casino Center Boulevard.

Main Street Station, with views from Ogden Avenue to Grand Central in south-facing rooms, is 100 percent occupied for its 406 rooms. Customers are being funneled to other Boyd Group properties, including the Fremont, starting at $75 a night. Only a few of those 447 rooms overlook Ogden Avenue.

Occupancy at downtown's 8,170 hotel rooms is expected to run in the mid-90 percent range, close to New Year's Eve and National Finals Rodeo levels.

Michael Zaletel of Phoenix-based i4vegas.com said he's seen a surge in bookings for this weekend but not much movement in rates.

"The bookings are doing pretty well, and rates are actually lower than normal," he said. "That's because it's Easter weekend. Any religious holiday really negatively impacts bookings in Las Vegas. It's normal for Las Vegas to be down this weekend."

Fitzgeralds was among the first hotels to affiliate with the race and filled its 648 rooms early, Vegas Grand Prix President Jim Freudenberg said.

"The ones that jumped on board early and let us help market them are full," he said. "Some of the others waited and jacked their room rates up. They dropped them after everybody else had booked their rooms."

Sunday's Champ Car World Series season opener is expected to draw 150,000 people and generate an estimated $76 million in nongaming economic impact for Las Vegas, race organizers said. It also will bring in $3.8 million in state and local tax revenue.

"Nobody knows exactly what to expect in attendance and impact," said Fremont Street Experience President Jeff Victor. "Certainly the setup of the racetrack itself is a monumental effort to work around. Just the impact of the track itself would put this event as a portal for downtown."  More at Las Vegas Review Journal

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