by Michael J. Shapiro | March 16, 2011

 The 1,720-room Sahara Hotel & Casino, a fixture on the Las Vegas Strip since 1952, will close May 16, its owners announced Friday. The SBE Entertainment Group, which owns the iconic property, currently is assessing options that include a complete renovation and repositioning. "While no final decisions have been made at this point," noted SBE CEO Sam Nazarian in a statement, "the continued operation of the aging Sahara was no longer economically viable." The Sahara is on the northern end of the Strip, surrounded by stalled projects such as Echelon, the Fontainebleau Las Vegas and the Plaza Las Vegas. According to SBE, the Sahara has been working with MGM Resorts International, which owns a dozen Strip properties, on possibly relocating future customers and employees.