EVENTS, VENUES AND THE EVOLUTION OF LAS VEGAS
More than 60 years ago, the resorts along the dusty two-lane Las Vegas Strip had a problem. Business was booming during the warm summer weekends, but during mid-week and off-season periods, the number of hotel rooms far outnumbered the guests. Seeking to boost visitor counts during these slow times, a group of civic and business leaders developed a plan to publicly finance and build a convention center to help capture a piece of the emerging convention and meeting business.
Funded by a newly created hotel room tax, the $5.4 million Las Vegas Convention Center opened in 1959, featuring a 90,000-square-foot convention hall and the 6,300-seat Rotunda. That initial facility started a decades-long growth cycle for the convention and meeting business in Southern Nevada. Through the lens of today, that investment in the Las Vegas Convention Center was a no-brainer. Yet at the time, skeptics called the proposed center a “white elephant” that would never live up to promises or justify its cost. Good thing they were wrong. Today, the Las Vegas Convention Center is one of the largest in the U.S. and has helped the region become the nation’s top trade show destination, hosting a record 6.6 million delegates while generating $9.8 billion in economic impacts during 2017.
The original convention center not only helped catapult Southern Nevada into the convention market, it also ushered in a new era of sports and entertainment events – and the venues that hold them. The aforementioned Rotunda was not only a meeting and trade show space, it was also an arena that could host a wide variety of musical, sports and entertainment events. One of the earliest and most famous events was the visit by The Beatles during their 1964 coming-out tour through the U.S. For three decades, the spaceship-shaped Rotunda was a go-to venue for major boxing matches, musical headliners and concerts, the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels and countless other events.
The Rotunda was demolished in 1990, and while it may be gone, its legacy as a multipurpose venue lives on in the many facilities that thrive throughout Southern Nevada today. Sam Boyd Stadium and Thomas & Mack Center were the first to follow in the Rotunda’s footsteps, and they still host sports and entertainment events decades later. Other venues followed in the continuing evolution of the sports and entertainment scene, including MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Orleans Arena, South Point Arena and T-Mobile Arena. Many of these venues are among the best-performing in the nation.
The diversity and appeal of special events in Southern Nevada have evolved along with the locations that host them. Today, the calendar is filled with high-demand events such as National Finals Rodeo, NBA Summer League, Electric Daisy Carnival, NASCAR weekend, USA Sevens Rugby, the Vegas Golden Knights, celebrity-studded UFC and boxing matches and headliner concert tours. These events have been important additions to the transforming landscape of Las Vegas amenities, with special events now accounting for roughly 2.5 million annual visitors who generate an economic impact of $3.4 billion annually. These events, and the economic impacts they create, would not be possible without the venues to hold them.
Could the founding fathers of the first Las Vegas Convention Center have foreseen the future that we live in today? Not likely. Though they did see an opportunity to diversify and broaden the region’s all-important tourism economy, and they came through with conviction and commitment to make that happen. Today, Southern Nevada is the dominant convention destination and is known as the entertainment capital of the world.
A POSITIVE OUTLOOK ARCHIVE
||Constructing Economic Growth
|February 2018||Investing in Our Future|
|March 2018||Destination: Nevada|
|April 2018||34 Billion Reasons|
|June 2018||Turning Dreams into Reality|
|July 2018||On Housing and Bubbles|
|August 2018||Pride in Our Schools|
|September 2018||Austerity During Prosperity|
||What Is It That Makes a Community Great?
|February 2017||A Competitive Market is a Healthy Market
|March 2017||South Point Bowling Plaza: They Built It and They Came
|April 2017||The Economy and a Better Society
|May 2017||Retail Sales: Another Sign of Nevada’s Strengthening Economy
|June 2017||Entrepreneurship: Key to Nevada’s Economic Rebound
|July 2017||When It Comes to Conventions, Las Vegas Is Serious Business
|August 2017||UNLV’s Hotel College Poised for the Future
|September 2017||Looking Beyond Game Day
|October 2017||Community Is What Defines Us|
|November 2017||A Night with the Golden Knights
|December 2017||Data and Community|
|December 2016||Southern Nevada Housing Market Continues Steady Rise
|November 2016||Jobs in Nevada: Back in the Black|
|October 2016||The UNLV Medical School: Good for the Health of Our Community and Our Economy|
|September 2016||More Workers are Quitting, and That’s a Good Thing|
|August 2016||The Rise of Restaurants|
|July 2016||Cones of Progress|
|June 2016||Nevada and the Autonomous Frontier|
|May 2016||Young Minds Leading Nevada’s STEM Future|
||An Award for GOED Means an Award for Nevada|
|March 2016||Rising Wages and the Strengthening Economies|
|February 2016||North Las Vegas: "What Ifs?" Becoming Realities|
||Evolving Economic Development|
|December 2015||A New Foundation: Economic Outlook|
|November 2015||Committed to Philanthropy|
|October 2015||Celebrating Nevada's Diversity|
|September 2015||The Return of Investment|
|August 2015||What's Working in Public Education|
|July 2015||Metal Rebel: UNLV Robotics|
|June 2015||Housing: Recession and Recovery|
|May 2015||Public Safety Key to Economic Growth|
|April 2015||Working Together: Touro University
|March 2015||Progress and Patience: Downtown Redevelopment
|February 2015||Welcome Forward: Economic Recovery|
|January 2015||More than Low Taxes: Economic Development|