(Michael Zahara) – I support the efforts of Reno/Tahoe for the 2022 Winter Olympics, and though no one is mentioning a World’s Fair in Las Vegas in 2020, I think we should go for that too! I didn’t participate in the recent Chicago 2016 effort, but had friends on the team that did, and I had a big role in Chicago’s effort to land the World’s Fair in 1992 that eventually went to Seville Spain.
The benefit of bidding is that it corrals your talent pool and focuses a big group of diverse people from varied backgrounds to begin thinking more than 22 minutes into the future; all of our Nevada leaders have no ability to see further than that 22 minutes into the future.
It’s quite correctly said that the only thing worse than losing an Olympics bid, is winning one; and I agree!
So, why do I support the Reno/Tahoe Olympics effort and a World’s Fair/Las Vegas effort?
It’s a concept called ‘signaling’ and many cities around the world have been doing this for quite some time as an enhancement to their tourism and Chamber of Commerce efforts with no real intention of winning either the Olympics or the World’s Fair.
They place their city’s name into the pool of bid cities and reap the benefit of global publicity.
It’s a really smart idea and perfect for Nevada’s cultural mindset.
A bi-state effort for the 2022 Games would put Reno/Tahoe on the map globally. We’ve missed out and otherwise handled poorly the tourism push needed for our northern regions where winter sports here have been overshadowed by our neighbors who’ve put millions into coordinated efforts. In Nevada, our efforts are bogged down in rivalry and territorial and regional intra-state nonsense.
The primary responsibility for Nevada’s state tourism efforts is the office of Lieutenant Governor, and I’ve yet to hear from any of the people that we know are running, what they’d do for Reno/Tahoe’s Olympic efforts or a World’s Fair in Las Vegas. Lt Gov Krolicki has assembled an Olympics bid team lead by Jon Killoran, but we’ve heard little from them.
Nor have we heard from the state’s business community. Such efforts must have all of the players in state commerce on board too because all would receive a big residual benefit from such efforts, and no one lands these things without them on board.
Another requirement is to bid on hosting events that are natural precursors to hosting Olympics such as skiing and ice skating US & world championships events and other winter sport championships in the lead up years to the event.
Coupling 2022 Olympic efforts with a ‘Reno, we’re everything you used to love about Vegas!’ tourism campaign, could be the jump-start that tourism needs in the northern regions of our state. Or how about a ‘Shhh, don’t tell them about us in Vail’ campaign that emphasizes that it’s much less crowded and much more fun here?
Another issue in the Reno/Tahoe area is the lack of a credible, all encompassing tourism media effort to win over the ski bums and others who enjoy outdoor winter activities. The current effort is weak and mostly based only in the western region of the country, ignoring the millions that flock to Colorado & Utah from the eastern 2/3’s of the nation. Part of what makes that an easier sell is the availability of non-stop flights into Denver and Salt Lake City to connect into the smaller ski markets. Non-stops from the East into Reno are lacking:
Another question to ask is why Reno/Washoe are being completely ignored in the high speed rail initiatives currently on the table? California’s system, which unlike Las Vegas’s effort, will be built and a route will terminus in Sacramento. Shouldn’t we be thinking out loud about connecting into their system both in Las Vegas and Reno. Isn’t connecting Reno into California’s high-speed system the perfect compliment to an Olympics bid?:
I have no doubt that California will build their high-speed rail system, I also have no doubt Nevada will not build theirs unless it builds with our neighbor to the west…and includes the Reno/Tahoe area too.
California has about 38 million people; Nevada has about 3 million, where do you think the actual high-speed system is more likely to be built?
The World’s Fair in Las Vegas in 2020 also makes sense for a city that’s trying in vain to be more than a gambling Mecca without any success. These events always need a theme to tie the event together and basically last about 6 months wherever they are held.
Some famous and ground-breaking Fairs were held in London, St Louis, Chicago, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal, and New York. Presently, both San Francisco and Houston have expressed a serious interest in bidding on the 2020 event. Here’s the complete list of potential bid cities so far for 2020:
•Copenhagen, Denmark (proposed bid)
•Houston, Texas, United States (proposed bid)
•São Paulo, Brazil (proposed bid)
•Manila, Philippines (proposed bid)
•Montréal, Québec, Canada (proposed bid)
•New York City, New York, United States (proposed bid)
•San Francisco, California, United States (proposed bid)
•Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (proposed bid)
Shouldn’t Las Vegas be on this list?
Shanghai hosts the fair this year and the 2015 Expo will be held in Milan Italy. I think we should get into the mix if not for really landing it, to ‘signal’ to the rest of the world that we’re a player in such efforts. The way the Expo authority does things would seem to have it be North America’s turn in the rotation for 2020.
The opportunity to redevelop about 150-200 acres in town that will leave a permanent museum campus and possibly a downtown campus of CSN after the Fair seems a logical proposition if we’re really serious about helping the West Side or the city’s central downtown corridors. By placing the Fair’s pavilions in the downtown area in a massive redevelopment effort, the 2020 World’s Fair could be the impetus that the San Francisco and Chicago Fairs of yesteryear were for those cities.
But that takes imagination and creativity long completely absent in Nevada. It also takes an effort to think outside of the Gaming-only box the state has painted itself into that is the primary reason our economic base has not expanded; we really are Las Detroit and we’re dying a death of single industry atrophy.
Do we have the will to do big projects like Olympics and World’s Fairs in Nevada?
My heart is telling me yes, but my head is telling me no because we are very much a ‘can’t do’ state. It should be noted that the governing bodies of both the Olympics and World’s Fairs are notoriously corrupt and difficult to work with, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, does it?
Will any of the 2010 candidates for Lieutenant Governor come up with something that encourages our imaginations and delivers to us a will to succeed where Nevada has so far failed?
Only time will tell.
(Mr. Zahara writes the WatchdogWag blog)