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Fremont Street Exp.
names new chief

Nov 25, 2003 6:09 AM

The Fremont Street Experience (FSE) on Monday named Joseph R. Schillaci its new president and chief executive officer of the $70 million downtown Las Vegas attraction.

Known for his creative marketing while president of Six Flags Magic Mountain theme park in California, Schillaci is a 35-year veteran of the hospitality, travel and transportation industries.

Schillaci replaces Mark Paris, who resigned in September to return to land management and development. Mark Brandenburg, owner of the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, will continue as FSE’s interim chief executive until Schillaci’s appointment becomes effective December 1, 2003.

"We are thrilled to welcome someone of Joe’s caliber at such an exciting time," said Don Snyder, FSE chairman and president of Boyd Gaming, which owns three downtown casinos. "There are dramatic changes taking place downtown, all in the spirit of the colorful and dynamic entrepreneurs who started Las Vegas right here on Fremont Street and who made Las Vegas what it is today."

Boyd alluded to recent downtown casino acquisitions that could generate new enthusiasm in the downtown area.

Terry Caudill, owner of Magoo’s Gaming Group, recently bought the Four Queens, and entrepreneurs Tom Breitling and Tim Poster of travelscape.com fame have fresh plans for the future of the Golden Nugget.

Don Barden’s Majestic Star Corporation bought Fitzgeralds two years ago, making him the first African American owner of a major Nevada casino and bringing his unique entertainment expertise to downtown. The Plaza and Las Vegas Club are in escrow to be sold to Barrick Gaming, which adds another new perspective to the Fremont Street roundtable.

"Joe will be instrumental in helping lead our efforts to build a future celebrating the rich history of Fremont Street by constantly pushing the boundaries of entertainment and innovation, while preserving those characteristics that remind us of the way Las Vegas used to be," Snyder said. "Fremont Street Experience is unlike any other place on earth. Here, you can easily walk from casino to casino while you watch free spectacular light shows, live bands and enjoy other fun entertainment."

In addition to directing Six Flags national marketing efforts for seven years, Schillaci three years ago founded Las Vegas-based Gladiator Management Group, a business management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning and organizational development in service industries.

"I’m excited about the opportunity to make a positive impact on this great area of our city," Schillaci said, "and to work with our talented board members as we take FSE to a new plateau of entertainment and value for both local and out of town visitors."

Schillaci takes the helm of the FSE as downtown entrepreneurs try to enhance the allure of the historic downtown district.

Most recently, the Fremont Street Experience has undertaken a $17 million project to transform its 90-foot-high, four block long canopy into the largest LED screen in the world, which will enable FSE to create more sophisticated and dynamic shows.

The Experience, an open-air pedestrian mall lined with some of Las Vegas’ most historic casinos, is the centerpiece of a downtown entertainment district that attracts more than 15 million visitors each year and serves as a backdrop for movies, television, special events and concerts.

Other projects contributing to downtown’s current revival include the opening of retail, business and cultural centers, such as the nearby Las Vegas Premium Outlets, a future Performing Arts Center, a proposed furniture mart and the planned expansion of the new Las Vegas Monorail connecting the Las Vegas Strip to downtown.