Wednesday, May 7, 2014 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas is going to be OK. Let me rephrase, Las Vegas is OK and is going to keep getting better.
There is no one project or piece of good news that shows our city is back on the move. Rather, it’s a sense that, after five years of the worst economic times our city has ever experienced, there is reason for hope, reason for excitement and reason to believe that tomorrow will be better than today.
Plenty of Las Vegans don’t share my confidence. They are not yet back to full employment, caught up on their bills or secure in their homes and their family’s financial lives, but it is becoming increasingly clear that that day will soon come.
While one event does not a recovery make, the opening of the Linq and its wondrous new walk toward the High Roller observation wheel is a sign that even our most troubled gaming company is betting on tomorrow as it claws its way to financial health.
The growth of the technology sector — you know, the sector that didn’t exist until Switch Communications basically brought big-time technology to a gambling town — is another exhibit demonstrating our growth.
There was one event last week, though, that convinces me that there is no looking back, despite the skeptics who may think I’m reaching a premature conclusion. I’m referring to the groundbreaking behind what was a no-man’s land wedged between the back of the Monte Carlo and New York-New York and the freeway.
That’s where MGM Chairman and CEO Jim Murren and AEG President Dan Beckerman put a shovel in the ground for a $375 million arena that will not only be state of the art but the state of play for the rest of the world to envy. Did you hear me? A construction project in Las Vegas!
I am certain that, as Jim said, this will be additive in that there will be new events, concerts and sports attractions drawn to Las Vegas when the arena opens in two years. That is called building today, for tomorrow.
What struck me most — besides a huge sigh of relief that what always defined Las Vegas would define it again, the construction crane — were the words of Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak. Steve was there along with his fellow commissioners — Susan Brager, Mary Beth Scow and Tom Collins — to show their support for this completely privately funded arena project.
The commission chairman was effusive in his praise for the strength of not only the MGM Resorts International brand but its commitment to Las Vegas. Then he got to the important stuff, the stuff from which positive feelings flow and from which momentum is built.
Steve talked about the 3,000 construction jobs — remember them? — that will build this new arena and some 2,000-plus permanent jobs that will result. He mentioned the high unemployment rate in Southern Nevada that will tick downward because of this one project and beamed at that prospect. And he should.
More jobs, more tourists, more reason to get up tomorrow knowing that it will be better in Las Vegas than it was yesterday.
Welcome back, Las Vegas.
Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.