The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 30, 1981 · Page 13
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 13

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Thursday, July 30, 1981
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Page 13
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4 inursaay. July 3. Philadelphia inquirer id-A MGM Grand Hotel reopens to full house fly Larry Elchel LAS VEGAS, Nev. There were no cocktail parties or press conferences, to flowery speeches or ceremonial ribbon-cuttings. There was, in fact, no reliable advance word on exactly when the event actually would take place. But at noon yesterday, 250 days after the Nov. 21 fire that killed 84, injured 679 and left the place a blackened shambles, the MGM Grand Hotel reopened its doors. "We wanted to keep it low-key," said a hotel spokesman. "It would seem inappropriate, in terms of what happened in November, to have a grand celebration." This opening, however, gave new meaning to the term "low-key." In an effort to keep the event subdued and to dilute the burden on the staff of checking in thousands of guests, the management decided to spread the reopening over two days. As a result, the first guests were arriving even as the hotel's switchboard operators were telling the world that the place would remain closed for another 24 hours. For those who were there yesterday, the MGM Grand, all 26 floors of it, was a hotel full of optimists management, employees, guests and Las Vegas natives. They commented on the odor of "newness and the absence of any odor of smoke. They admired the cheerfulness of the casino's new red carpets, new custom-designed chandeliers and new mirrored ceilings. And they put memories of the disastrous past behind them. "I have no fear," said Dr. Milton Jacobson of Miami, a long-time patron of the hotel, as he and his wife, Lynn, headed for their room on the 22nd floor. "It was a catastrophe, but lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. The place is probably better now than before." "I've been waiting for this day for nine months," said Bill Clutters, who was ready to start spinning one of the nine roulette wheels in the vast casino, which also has 90 tables for blackjack, 18 for poker and 10 for craps. "1 think the people will come back." "I think the hotel looks marvelous," said actor Cary Grant, a member of the board of MGM Grand Hotels Inc., as he wandered through the lobby. He noted that the hotel is fully booked in fact over-booked for the first week. "It certainly was an unfortunate calamity, but I don't think the company has to regain its image. I don't think it ever lost its good name. MGM is a marvelous name." But the reopening, which cost $50 million to bring about, does not mean that all is well for MGM Grand Hotels Inc. Before the fire, the company's stock was trading as high as $15 a share; after, it fell below $8. It has come back, but only to $12. And some casino visitors yesterday were joking that MGM had built a lovely hotel for the new owners, referring to the possible impact of the . 600-plus fire-related lawsuits that are slowly wending their way through the courts and could cost MGM Grand hundreds of millions of dollars. Shortly after that morning in November when an electrical fire smouldered in the delicatessen, burst across the casino and turned the high-rise into a chimney full of poisonous black smoke the men who run it announced that the MGM Grand, upon its reopening, would be the largest hotel in the world. That is not true right now. The hotel has 2,089 rooms, the same as before; the 762 more that will allow MGM to claim the "biggest" title won't be ready until September. The executives of MGM Grand also pledged that the hotel-casino would be the safest one in history and they have spent $5,000,000 on that promise. The hotel has 30,500 sprinklers, and a typical guest room has four one each in the bathroom, closet, entry hall and the central room. Each room has a smoke detector, as do the corridors, the housekeeping stations, electrical rooms and eleva tor lobbies. Each room has a speaker the hotel has 8,000 in all to allow fire authorities to provide safety or evacuation instructions. Each room has an independent air-conditioning system. After the fire, the central air conditioning system was blamed for causing deaths by pumping smoke from the casino into guest rooms. And all of this machinery is coordi nated and monitored by a computer, whose operator can respond to any hint of fire by activating sprinklers, closing doors, turning on ventilation systems, and. of course, calling the fire department. This soalled "life-safety" system is explained to guests on the television sets in their rooms by means of a bilingual, five-minute videotape, hosted by song-and-dance man Gene Kelly. "Over the years," he begins, "I've made a lot of movies for MGM. Chances are, you've caught a few of them. But this one's a little different ..." The hotel will offer the more traditional forms of Las Vegas entertainment as well. One of the first headlin-ers in the Celebrity Room, which opens today, will be singer Mac Davis, who was performing there after midnight on Nov. 21, just hours be. fore the fire broke out. "I closed it," he said, "and I'm going to reopen it When I walk out on stage, I'm going to say, 'Welcome to the MGM Grand,' like I always do. I wouldn't dare bring up the fire." HJinlInldlDSD01iai L"jfc9ir SUIT mnsoiyitBii is. River Park House A superb condominium value. 3600 Conshohocken Avenue Philadelphia. Pennsylvania 19131 (215)477-9800 See our ad in the Women's Section PHILADELPHIA GAS COMMISSION PUBLBC NOTICE GAS RATE HEARINGS BY ORDER OF THE PHILADELPHIA GAS COMMISSION. HEARINGS WILL BEGIN ON WEDNESDAY. AUGUST 19. 1981 AT 10 OO O'CLOCK A.M.. 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