I moved to Las Vegas in 1994, so having been a resident for more than two decades, Do I now qualify as a “Native”?
For some, the ’90s were about grunge, riot grrls, The X-Files and Fruitopia. For Las Vegas, the decade will always be remembered as the time when this outlaw desert hamlet overflowed toward the mountains, doubled in population and emerged as a sprawling New Detroit. Being among that rush of humanity doesn’t qualify you as a “native.” But it does make you partially responsible for our overcrowded schools!
I once tackled this issue as a guest on KNPR’s State of Nevada, on which I suggested three general groups of Las Vegans. First is The Native, whose only qualification is the triple-seven luck of being born and raised in the Las Vegas metro area (shout out to the long-gone Women’s Hospital!). Next is The Local: Anyone with a local address and I.D. (you earned those discounts, baby!). And finally there are The Vegas Kids, who deeply understand and identify with Las Vegas, regardless of birthplace (or even, perhaps, residency).
So, while you aren’t a Native, you’ve lived here for about 20 percent of the city’s history, which makes you a strong candidate for a Vegas Kid. I’m a rarity—the Local Native Vegas Kid—but if I had to choose just one, I’d pick Vegas Kid.
The Major League Soccer/Downtown stadium issue certainly divided the city’s leaders and residents. Curious: On which side of the fence was the Native sitting?
As a fan of both soccer and Downtown, I won’t begrudge the efforts to bring the sport to our city’s revitalizing core. That said, I pay close attention whenever public money is used for private endeavors—especially stadiums. As stadium consultant Tom Shepard wrote in Voice of San Diego last year, “Any public investment in a facility designed to accommodate a profit-making enterprise … must have the public’s benefit as its primary objective.”
Which leads us to a demonstrative model for how to build a downtown stadium with public help: Petco Park, the San Diego Padres’ $450 million stadium that opened in 2004. How did it happen? Through the creation of a citizens’ advisory task force resulting in a combined public-private funding proposal put to a public vote. The process clearly worked; the proposal passed in 1998 with nearly 60 percent of the vote, and Petco Park has since spurred billions of dollars in private investment, transforming downtown San Diego into something our Downtown supporters point to as an excellent example.