Big developments in tourism
Plans for convention center redo, Cosmopolitan auditorum and water center bode well
January ended with a flourish of big announcements, all of which bode well for Southern Nevada’s tourism industry.
If you aren’t convinced by now that Las Vegas’ economy is rebounding, you’re surely a pessimist. Please do all of my fellow optimists a favor and let us enjoy the moment.
Last week, I pointed out that the UNLV Now project isn’t as much about having an athletic facility for the Rebels as it is about having a spacious new special events venue in the heart of the city. I called on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to take a leadership role in getting the facility built because its mission is all about putting heads in beds, and the new stadium would most certainly do that.
But that column was written and printed before I heard LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter’s presentation at Preview Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s big networking event at the Thomas & Mack Center. There, Ralenkotter revealed that his executives are going to pitch the LVCVA board of directors on a plan to make over the Las Vegas Convention Center in a big way.
A refurbishing plan for the center was in the works in 2007 but got shelved when the economy went south.
Ralenkotter, a longtime Las Vegas resident who attended Bishop Gorman High School and UNLV, is all about the history of the city. He appreciates imagery of the past and understands that it guides us to the future.
Ralenkotter also recognizes the convention center as the heart of the city and proposes a design that pays homage to the rotunda on Las Vegas’ first convention facility.
Plans for the new center include a dome-like cap over the entrance, reminiscent of the historic rotunda where the Runnin’ Rebels played and the Beatles performed.
Ralenkotter also plans to make good on Las Vegas’ commitment to being an international business center by building a World Trade Center on the convention center campus, a concept that the Consumer Electronics Association endorsed and agreed to partner with.
Finally, Ralenkotter unveiled plans to develop an intermodal transportation center at the convention center. It will be a one-stop staging center for buses, limousines and taxis. More information will be available Feb. 12 when administrators present details to the board.
Also announced last month: The Cosmopolitan is building a 3,000-seat auditorium that’s expected to be ready by the end of the year. It will have a fascinating design concept, modeled after an Eastern European glass factory. Anyone who has seen the Cosmo’s spectacular chandelier knows the company knows its way around glass.
And last month’s approval by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development for a Center of Excellence in water development, while it didn’t receive a lot of publicity, is huge. The center will partner with IBM and aims to become the leading authority on water development.
Why is this important to tourism? Because once it is operational, which is anticipated in three months, people from all over the world are expected to travel here to learn about water.
It may not be a massive events center, but it will be one of the under-the-radar attractions Las Vegas does so well.