How Las Vegas missed out on a life-sized Starship Enterprise

In 1992, plans were in the works to create a life-sized Starship Enterprise in downtown Las Vegas. The model ship would have been roughly as long as the Eiffel Tower is tall, and would have contained all the key rooms and areas from the original Star Trek series. Vegas business owners loved the idea, and so did Paramount Licensing. So what went wrong?

With downtown Las Vegas losing tourist bucks to the Strip, the Downtown City Fathers decided to hold a competition for a major attraction that would bring people back downtown and into the casinos and hotels. Entertainment design firm the Gary Goddard Group came up with a brilliant idea, one that bring starshiploads of tourists to downtown Vegas, even folks who might not otherwise visit the city: the Star Trek Experience.

How Las Vegas missed out on a life-sized Starship Enterprise

The life-sized Enterprise model would be one of those grand attractions that you would see when you were flying into Vegas. According to the plan, there would be live Star Trek shows aboard the Enterprise, and tours of the show's familiar settings. The Group was told by Paramount Licensing that they should have no problem getting the approval of the studio chairman once the project was approved, and the Las Vegas redevelopment committee loved the idea.

However, getting final approval from Paramount was not as easy as promised. The final go-ahead had to come from Stanley Jaffe, the president and COO of Paramount Communications. Jaffe wasn't as keen on a life-sized Enterprise as the rest of the world. He told the Goddard crew:

"You know, this is a major project. You're going to put a full-scale ENTERPRISE up in the heart of Las Vegas. And on one hand that sounds exciting. But on another hand, it might not be a great idea for us – for Paramount." Everyone in the room was stunned, most of all, me, because I could see where this was going. "In the movie business, when we produce a big movie and it's a flop – we take some bad press for a few weeks or a few months, but then it goes away. The next movie comes out and everyone forgets. But THIS – this is different. If this doesn't work – if this is not a success – it's there, forever…." I remember thinking to myself "oh my god, this guy does NOT get it…." And he said "I don't want to be the guy that approved this and then it's a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever."

So the plan was scrapped, and the Fremont Street Experience was built instead. There you have it. When you sit around wondering why a life-sized model of the Enterprise doesn't exist, you know who to blame.

You can read the entire tragic story at Gary Goddard.

[Gary Goddard — Hat tip to TVs_Frank]