El Dorado
345 North Virginia Street
est. 1973
El Dorado
Photo from the Mark Englebretson Collection




Don Boyer
Grade 2

Pam Goertler
Grade 2

James Bothwell
Grade 2

Mark Englebretson
Grade 2

Louie Eliopoulos
Grade 2

Louie Eliopoulos
Grade 2

In July 1972 plans were announced for a new Reno luxury hotel to be called the Eldorado. The principals in the eleven-story hotel were William Carano, George Siri, George Yori, Richard Stringham, Jerry Poncia, and Don Carano. Construction of the new hotel was to begin immediately, and tentative plans called for the facility to open in May 1973. The entire 300 block of North Virginia Street was razed to make room for the new property. The businesses closed included Welsh's Bakery, the Little Waldorf, the Ace Coin Shop, Silver State Camera, the Reno Hotel, and Leo's Den.

In April 1973 the owners announced that George Siri would be the hotel manager and Richard Stringham his assistant. On May 16 the Nevada Gaming Commission approved Eldorado Associates--a limited partnership consisting of William Carano, Don Carano, George Siri, Richard Stringham, George Yori, and Jerry Poncia--for a gaming license. Herbert McCloskey was licensed as general manager of the hotel-casino, and Bob Goode was licensed as casino manager.

In April 1973 the owners announced that George Siri would be the hotel manager and Richard Stringham his assistant. On May 16 the Nevada Gaming Commission approved Eldorado Associates-a limited partnership consisting of William Carano, Don Carano, George Siri, Richard String-ham, George Yori, and Jerry Poncia-for a gaming license. Herbert McCloskey was licensed as general manager of the hotel-casino, and Bob Goode was licensed as casino manager.

The Eldorado opened on May 24,1973. A private reception for local dignitaries preceded the public opening. It had taken ten months to build the hotel-casino, and the cost was estimated to be about $6 million. Many experts predicted that the operation would fail because it was located north of the railroad tracks and away from the other downtown casinos.

The decor of the hotel was Spanish, with a gold, black, and brown color scheme carried throughout the property. The casino opened with two hundred slots, one keno game, and fifteen table games. Other amenities included a twenty-four-hour coffee shop seating 150 people and a dinner house seating 80 people. The hotel had 272 guest rooms and six suites. The opening entertainment at the stage bar was Lisa Dimio.

In August 1973 William DiCristina was named hotel manager. He had previously managed the Holiday Hotel, the Arlington Plaza, and since 1971, the Mapes Hotel. DiCristina stayed with the Eldorado until 1978, and in 1989 he returned as an executive hotel host. He remained in that position until his death in March 1995.

Also in August 1973 several changes were made in the ownership of the Eldorado. George Siri and George Yori sold their percentages, and Lud Corraro and Hubert McCloskey became owners. Richard String-ham sold his shares soon afterward.

In 1978 the Eldorado expanded to include 411 hotel rooms, thirty-one table games, five hundred slot machines, and two keno games.

Also in 1978 Al Lazzarone was named manager of the Eldorado. He had previously worked for Harolds Club for twenty-nine years. Prior to Lazzarone's ap-nt, several other former Harolds employees had been hired by the Eldorado.They included Danny Hill, Bob Coonradt, Don Lunceford, Mike Rowe, Ron Bissette, and Jorge Valdez. All of them key positions at the Eldorado in the 1970s and 1980s. They were joined in the 1980s by Jerry Sicka and Glen Botorff, two more longtime Harolds Club employees.

Another major management change occurred in April 1979, when Homer Pope was named slot manager. Pope had worked for Harolds Club for twenty-nine years and was a slot manager at the MGM Hotel-Casino it opened in 1978.

History was made in September 1980 when the Eldorado paid Reno's first $50,000 keno ticket. The Nugget in Sparks had previously paid two $50,000 tickets, but the Eldorado's was the first paid in Reno.

In August 1985 the Eldorado opened a $30 million expansion. The new 20,000-square-foot casino designed by architect Jerry Poncia doubled the Eldorado's gaming area and created a block-long casino. Another keno lounge, five hundred more slot machines, and thirty more table games were added. The expansion had dark oak beamed-and mirrored ceilings that blended with the existing casino. New escalators led up to a 350-seat buffet, the Market Place, which was brightly decorated with four giant skylights and sixty-one photographs of marketplaces around the world. Amillion-dollar stainless-steel kitchen supplied the buffet. (In 1995 the Market Place was replaced by a new six-hundred-seat buffet, the Chef's Pavilion.)

When the expansion was completed in 1985, the Eldorado had fifty table games, one thousand slots, and three keno lounges. A race and sports book also opened. A new hotel tower gave the Eldorado a total of 811 hotel rooms.

In 1993 the Eldorado opened a new ten-story, seven-hundred-space parking garage and announced a joint venture with Circus Circus called Project C. A contest held in 1994 produced the name of the new facility-The Silver Legacy---which opened on July 28, 1995. Skyways connecting the Silver Legacy with Circus Circus to the north and the Eldorado to the south make the three casinos seem like one giant property. In May 1997 the five-hundred-seat Eldorado showroom opened, featuring the Broadway musical Smokey Joe's Cafe.

As of 2000 the Eldorado covered a full city block from North Virginia Street to Sierra Street between Third and Fourth Streets. The hotel had risen to twenty-five stories and had 817 rooms or suites, eight restaurants, 81,000 square feet of casino space, two thousand slot machines, and ninety table games.

According to Dwayne Kling