GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

2018-01-11 - Las Vegas Weekly

Las Vegas Weekly

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THE STRIP OR NOT? as Vegas belongs to everybody. That might sound a little hokey but it's the truth. Perception de nes this place, or at least makes up the biggest chunk of the Vegas identity. And everyone gets to create their own impressions of this place, locals and visitors alike. That's the truth, but that doesn't stop some of us—people who have lived here for a long time, or people who play a tangible role in shaping those percep- tions—from trying to create actual de - nitions for this place. For example, con- sider a couple of guys who both moved to Las Vegas with their families as young kids and have lived here for decades. Both attended Garside Junior High School. Both have spent a lot of time in o -Strip casinos and video-poker bars. But one has built and operated businesses that have contributed to the greater Vegas perception, while the other guy has only talked about and writ- ten about this place. The other guy is me. The rst guy is Blake Sartini, chairman and CEO of Golden En- tertainment, the company behind the largest tavern group in the state (PT's Pubs and its associated bar brands) and which now owns the Stratosphere. When Golden acquired the Strat and other American Casino & Entertain- ment properties last year, Sartini noted how excited he was to nally get a casino on the Strip. That grabbed my attention. I re- cently argued with someone about the Stratosphere and how its location on Las Vegas Boulevard north of Sahara Avenue is not on the Strip, according to the widely held de nition of Las Vegas Strip boundaries, as created by me. I've been writing about this place for nearly 20 years, and I walk around and eat food on Las Vegas Boulevard all the time, therefore I am best-suited to determine the exact geographic delineation of one of the most famous destinations in the world. That last part is crap. The Strip includes whatever you think it includes. And as discussed in a Review-Journal article last month, Sartini has come to the completely logical conclusion that most people consider the Stratosphere to be on the Strip, even though it's within City of Las Vegas limits and not part of unincorporated Clark County like the other resorts on the Boulevard. That article also has a county spokes- man doing what I've been doing all these years: de ning something that doesn't want or need demarcation, asserting that a casino must be within Clark County boundaries to be "on the Las Vegas Strip." This, too, is crap. The Stratosphere is in a central neighborhood sometimes referred to as Naked City, which we can all agree is an awesome place name. The mythol- ogy behind the name says that cocktail waitresses and dancers who lived in this area in the '50s and '60s would regularly sunbathe nude at their apartment build- ing pools—a very Vegas legend, indeed. The neighborhood has changed quite a bit over the years, but in modern times it has always been referenced as the area that separates the Strip (county) from Downtown (city). Municipal o cials have a long tradi- tion of taking ownership of the resort corridor when it suits their needs. The Mayors Goodman are inextricably tied to Vegas tourism, even though the Strip is outside their jurisdiction. Clark County awards entertainers and digni- taries keys to the Strip because it doesn't have keys to the city, even though the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is planted securely on its land. I've always (pretentiously) main- tained that the Strip starts at Sahara and ends at Russell, but if you construct- ed a new casino on the Boulevard south of Mandalay Bay, it would most certainly be "on the Strip." The Stratosphere, less than a block from Sahara, is one of the most recognizable structures in the history of Las Vegas—not the city of Las Vegas, the entire destination. The one we promote to the world. The one that's bigger and more important than just the Strip, yet still relies on visual iconogra- phy—and those Vegas perceptions—to pull people like the Death Star tractor beam from all over the world. And be- sides, all those little Vegas skyline stock images incorporate the Stratosphere. There's no debate. T H E I N C I D E N TA L T O U R I S T B Y B R O C K R A D K E L THE INTERSECTION The Stratosphere Tower looms large in tourist perception of Vegas. (Photo Illustration) Debating the Stratosphere's location is like attempting to de ne Vegas 0 1 . 1 1 . 1 8 L A S V E G A S W E E K LY

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