Vegas has morphed into true sports town

Vegas has morphed into true sports town

July 10, 2018 3:10 AM


Southern Nevada, and Las Vegas in particular, continues to show an impressive resilience following the economic problems this nation experienced about 10 years ago. The ability to turn a negative into a positive is one of the best attributes any citizenry can have and we’ve got it.

One of the negatives for the region, beyond the economic difficulties of 2008, had long been the fact that most of the residents came from somewhere else. Las Vegas criticizers said our diversity made it impossible for a professional sports team to be successful here. Relying on this faulty logic, the naysayers said so many of us had different home teams to root for, we couldn’t possibly unite to root for a new home team.

That wrong-headedness extends to the popular misconception that Southern Nevada residents lack any real sense of unity or community, if you will.

Remember when having an employee’s name badge, including a home state or city, was a longstanding norm at many casinos? It may not be done as often as previously, but such information always provided a topic of conversation.

That hometown or home state information allowed guests to feel at ease when talking to a dealer, a waitress or waiter or any casino/resort staff member, for that matter. Those innocuous name badges did a lot to cement Las Vegas’ reputation as a friendly place. Our differences were adroitly used to create a convergence.

The Southern Nevada populace’s geographical assortment has long been viewed deleteriously. Outsiders wondered how native Nevadans really viewed all the newcomers from California, New York, Chicago, Hawaii and almost anyplace else you can think of. Outsiders always questioned the region’s sense of togetherness. Was such a thing even possible when nearly all of us came from somewhere else?

Migrating to Las Vegas – the whys and wherefores – is always a subject of particular interest to this reporter. Many of us got a fresh start in the business world or sought to exchange the dreariness of another region of the country for the milder weather (except for July and August) of Las Vegas. Most people you meet can easily give you scores of good reasons why they moved here, most often economic opportunity heads the list. And, don't forget the lack of a state income tax!

The more fascinating subject is the reaction of family members and friends when informed, “Las Vegas Here I Come.” Most of us can say we were viewed as having a screw loose when we made the announcement. Friends and family usually harbored doubts on our behalf, such as it’s 100 degrees year round, there’s no place to live away from the Strip and everyone spends every minute of every day gambling or wallowing in various luxurious or sybaritic pleasures.

Then, for many of us, family members and friends, usually after visiting, decided living here was not such a crazy idea and ended up relocating here themselves.

Thank goodness many of these kinds of ideas are gone. Part of the reason is because Southern Nevada has turned the negative aspects of our residents’ geographic differences into an enormous positive that I believe is attributable prominently to sports.

One national columnist even recently characterized Las Vegas as, “the most underrated sports town in the country.”

It was long thought that despite a growing population, Southern Nevada could never be home to a major league sports team. The thinking was also based on the notion no sports team could possibly compete with the Las Vegas Strip. Well, the Vegas Golden Knights solved that problem by playing in a new, privately funded arena right on what may be the world’s most famous thoroughfare. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders will soon do the same right near the Strip, with stadium construction help from a major public subsidy provided by room taxes.

Las Vegas, most probably, thanks in no small measure to the ability to legally bet on sports, was way ahead of other regions in creating a unique environment for those of us in this sports-centric society.

Championship boxing and mega-Super Bowl parties may have started this trend, but in our sports-mad world, Las Vegas continues to be the place to be. Sports wagering in other states shouldn’t impact business here and may actually improve it.

Sports bettors elsewhere should not wager on getting free drinks and comps and the other perks Las Vegas provides.

The Las Vegas experience, thanks in no small measure to the variety of our residents and how it translates to our love of sports, should certainly continue to be the standard by which competing regions will be judged.

Our differences seem to have brought us closer together.