Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Las Vegas was ranked as one of the “saddest” cities in America by Men’s Health magazine last week. While we find some national rankings helpful, others — like this — are bizarre. Someone was actually paid to rank the nation’s 100 largest cities using some sort of formula — or, perhaps, a dartboard, flipping coins or bingo balls — to determine happiness. They then cutely labeled the sad cities as “frown towns.”
Yes, seriously. That’s what the magazine wrote. No, we don’t know who makes this crazy stuff up.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a silly survey in a men’s magazine to figure out that Las Vegas has borne the brunt of a nasty economy. Nor is it any surprise that the state has problems and significant challenges. But at the same point, calling Las Vegas a “sad” city is idiotic. (No, we can’t bring ourselves to call it a “frown town.” Not now, not ever.)
There are many good things happening here, and Southern Nevadans shouldn’t lose sight of them nor should they forget the incredible potential that still exists.
In the short-term, it should be noted that tourism numbers and economic indicators show signs of a recovery in Las Vegas. There has been growth in the economy, although certainly not what Las Vegas was once accustomed to. There are also signs of a return of confidence here with new conventions and various projects that could come to Las Vegas.
This past week was a good one. NASCAR celebrated an incredible season in — where else? — this incredible town. NASCAR has found a great home in Las Vegas for its annual post-season party and takes advantage of all the offerings while receiving a warm spotlight. As well, the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the cowboy Super Bowl, opened on Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center, as it has every December since 1985. As we have noted, the rodeo is a great fit, and it too enjoys the uniqueness of Las Vegas.
High-profile events like those are great for the region and a good economic boost, but they also gain plenty of national attention, showing Americans that Las Vegas is still Las Vegas — a strong and great place to be. (And don’t forget, tonight’s Las Vegas Marathon, which runs at night along the lights of the Strip, will also garner plenty of attention.)
Add to the fact that Cirque du Soleil on Saturday opened the tour of its latest massive production — “Michael Jackson: The Immortal Tour” — in Las Vegas, and you’ve got a pretty good week.
Of course, events by themselves don’t make a town, and the economic problems the state has gone through show there are underlying issues to address. Nevadans should still be digesting the Brookings Institution’s massive report on economic development here. It’s worth reading and carefully considering. It takes a clear look at the state’s strengths and weaknesses and points a good way forward.
The bottom line: There is work to do to improve the state, essential services and the economy, but Nevada has a great opportunity as well.
In the meantime, we shouldn’t be bogged down by the doom-and-gloom and lose sight of all of the good things happening. Forget those who want to hang a frown on Las Vegas, better days are ahead.
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