How the Starship Enterprise Almost Landed in Las Vegas

In the early 1990s, downtown Las Vegas was a mess. Even as the Strip was surging as a tourist Mecca, the less familiar part of the city was becoming a haven for prostitutes and drug addicts, and the authorities wanted to do something about it. They began looking for a new tourist attraction that would pull visitors to their part of the city as well as to the Strip. The City of Las Vegas decided to host a competition for mammoth-size plans. Designer and producer Gary Goddard called together his team and they designed a gargantuan Star Trek attraction — not just an attraction, but a full-scale rendering of the Starship Enterprise. He approached the licensing department at Paramount Pictures, which controlled the Star Trek franchise, and asked for the studio’s support. The studio agreed to take the project to the next step on the condition that it receive an upfront licensing fee of $5 million once the Enterprise attraction got the green light, but later backed out of the deal. The top executive in charge put it this way: “In the motion picture business, I can put out a couple of bombs and I’ll take a little heat in the press for a few weeks, and then the next movie comes out and everything’s fine. If this comes out and it’s a white elephant, it’s gonna be up there forever.”