Whether you’re a Star Trek fan or not (I myself am not a big fan of the series, but the ship was always subject of my admiration), you have to admit that the U.S.S. Enterprise is one of the most recognizable spacecrafts of all times. For countless years fans had a desire to explore the interior of this starship, and briefly, it sounded like it might become a reality.
In 1992. Las Vegas was in dire need of something new, something big to attract a whole new bunch of people who might not be interested in casinos and hotels, so they organized a competition for downtown redevelopment which was nearly won by the Goddard Group. What they had in store was a plan to build a full life-size scale version of Enterprise itself.
As Gary Goddard says, “The ‘big idea’ was building the ship itself at full-scale. That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of ‘show’ on board. So, conceptually, it was to be a ‘tour’ of the ship, with all of the key rooms, chambers, decks, and corridors that we knew from the movie. There was to be the dining area for the ship’s crew (where you could dine in Starfleet comfort), and other special features. There were also one or two interesting ride elements that we were considering including a high-speed travelator that would whisk you from deck to deck.”
As you can see on the chart below, it would be seen quite well from the air and would become an instant attraction for both Trekkers and non-Trekkers, who would want to at least take a picture with the iconic Starfleet Constitution class starship. The cost for this ‘pleasure’ – approximately $150 millions.
So how come that this big, forward-thinking idea was left in the ‘docking bay’?
With plans set, Goddard and his team went to start the licensing process – the project had to be approved not only by the city officials but also Paramount Studio who owned the property. After easily convincing already enthusiastic Las Vegas Redevelopment Committee and its Mayor, there was only one man left to convince for the project to ‘lift off’ – Paramount CEO Stanley Jaffe.
As Einstain said it best, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” How that applies in this situation, we can see as Goddard recollects this ‘fatal meeting’:
“All of our work, the effort to get Paramount, the Mayor, and redevelopment committee aligned, everything had come to this moment. We were ready to go. Money in place, land provided by the city, license for the property negotiated with Paramount licensing – all set. If Mr. Jaffe says “yes” and we are a “go” project. And the city wanted to have a press conference within a week announcing the project.
So with everyone in the room, I take Mr. Jaffe through the project. With the art, the plans, the overall concept. After my spirited “pitch” everyone was beaming – everyone except Mr. Jaffe. He thanked us for the effort, and congratulated us on creating a bold concept and presentation, and then went into a speech that went something like this:
“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.”
And with that, Mr. Jaffe, in a single moment, destroyed about five months of work by a host of people, and killed one of the greatest ideas of all time.”
So there you have it, Star Trek fans – this is how narrow-mindness of one man can kill an idea (despite, unfortunately, what Natalie Portman said in ‘V for Vendetta‘).
Hopefully, with new movies and probable continued success of the franchise, this one might still have a chance for resurrection. How about that?