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Vision Signs Outfits the SLS Las Vegas With 12 EMC Displays

Dormant for eight years, the old Sahara is revitalized



Rob Crosbie is the operations manager for Vision Signs (Las Vegas).


SLS Las Vegas debuted this past summer. The $415 million renovation of the historic Sahara hotel, located along the North Vegas strip, included three towers with more than 1,600 rooms, nine restaurants, three clubs, a spa with a salon, a 10,000-sq.-ft. Fred Segal store and, most importantly for the sign industry, 12 LED video displays, including a 47 x 88-ft., four-sided, video marquee.

Robert Luck is our VP of operations, and we’ve worked together in the sign industry for more than 20 years. He was instrumental in figuring out the difficult aspects of getting these signs built, along with the logistics of getting them to the site and installed on time.

This project was closed and fenced off to the public for five years. Then came news reports of the project coming back to life. Penta Contractors was chosen as its general contractor (GC). I’ve done other projects with them, so I called the Senior Project Manager. I stayed in touch with him every few weeks for many months. In November of 2012 Penta’s project manager had me meet with Sbe (Los Angeles-based, hotel-management firm) representatives about removing the 190-ft., 6-in. x 64-ft. Sahara pylon sign.

They wanted to remove the entire sign. I explained that, unless they had a completely different location for the new pylon sign, I would not take the old one down completely. Its base pipes were 9 ft. in diameter. Removing those and starting from scratch would be expensive. I explained how much time and money it would save by stripping the sign and building off the existing structure. That’s the way the project and our involvement with it started.


At the beginning of the project, Clark County only gave us a 24-hour lane closure to remove the old Sahara cabinets off the pylon sign. We started around 11 p.m. On all three northbound lanes of Las Vegas Blvd., we set up a 260-ft. crane, took the sign down and removed it off the property in 19 hours. We’d had crews cutting inside the sign for weeks prior to this day. The same semi flatbeds that hauled in the crane were also used to remove the sign. We had numerous ground crews splitting the sign into legal heights for hauling. Here, anything over 13 ft., 6 in. has to have a permit. The Sahara’s cabinet was 22 x 64 ft. So, when we got it to the ground, we split it apart, loaded and hauled it in two 11 x 64-ft. sections on the trailers.

I dealt directly with the owners, and the contract was through them. I also had a contract for all the displays that were in the scope of work for the GC, Penta. Originally, KT Corp. (Seoul, Korea) wanted to furnish the electronics, and have Vision install them. As thing progressed, I was asked what manufacturer I’d recommend. In September of 2013, I contacted Daktronics (Brookings, SD) and set the meetings up with the owners’ reps. I was involved in every meeting with the owners, KT and Daktronics until Daktronics was chosen to furnish the LED product for this project. Since then, Vision has done all the changes and property-wide maintenance of the signage and lighting. We currently maintain all of Daktronics displays on the exterior and interior of the property.

Vision fabricated every sign on this project. We built the signs at our shop and transported them to the property as install dates came. Daktronics shipped us all the electronics for the various displays. We built the 154-ft.-tall pylon sign with 12-ft., 2-in.- wide x 47-ft.-long x 9-ft., 7-in.- tall sections, with the electronics already mounted, and transported them to the site for installation.

The main-entrance sign is at the Shot Bar. The LED unit is like an upside-down shoe box, hung at an angle above the main bar. It’s 32 ft. long, 18 ft. wide and 4 ft., 4 in. tall on all sides. It weighs 5,500 lbs. and is hung from the ceiling with aircraft cable. However, by the time, the front doors were set; there was no way to bring it in. We had to set up welders and equipment inside, and build, assemble and install it on the casino floor.
The other main challenging job was the garage screen. Sbe installed high-powered projectors on the roof that transferred images across the night-club pool onto the parking garage. We manufactured a truss system with mesh faces to cover the openings on the garage floors so that you would be able to see the projected images between floors. The garage screen had to be mounted 4 ft. off the garage to satisfy the county requirements for air quality in the garage.

Because the screen and structure were 46 ft. high and 220 ft. long, there was no room to work from the bottom up. This entire display was installed from the top down by repelling. Two banners were installed on the other parking garages. The large one is 65 ft. tall x 497 ft. long, and the smaller one is 54 ft. tall x 227 ft. long.

We did all the ADA signage and other displays in the three towers. Like all casino projects, toward the end, we had to work around slot machines, tables, furniture and all the other trades trying to complete their jobs. The opening date was September 1 — Labor Day weekend. Towards the end of the project they changed the grand opening tor August 22. We had people installing the finishing touches up until an hour before the VIP party and opening.


The project was complete at opening. However, we are currently doing all changes to ongoing sign projects, including marketing signage. This week (December 8-12), we’ve changed out the 54 x 227-ft. banner on the parking garage. I’ve also sold them two building wraps, 42 ft. tall by 173 ft. long, which have to be installed by New Years, for both sides of the main tower.

They have Steve Angello coming in as the resident DJ for the LIFE night club, as he begins a two-year residency. A big New Years marketing campaign is going on, so all the interior and exterior signage has to be complete by the 29th.

Overall, I probably wrote 150 internal work orders for this project. In the two years prior to opening, we had anywhere from 5 to 30 men on site. But I’d say this job was similar to prior casino projects we have done in terms of interior/exterior signs, timeframes and execution.




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