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John L. Smith: The World Won't End Because You Have To Pay For Parking

Lars Plougmann/Flickr

Bellagio parking garage.

As he does each week, KNPR contributor John L. Smith joins us to share his notebook of observations and analysis on news and life in general in Las Vegas.

Today, he talked to KNPR’s State of Nevada about the end of an era on the Las Vegas Strip. Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and now Wynn Resorts announced plans to start charging to park at their resorts.

The companies applying different strategies and standards but some local writers are recalling old Las Vegas and the old rules that seem to no longer to apply. 


Is this a sad day in Las Vegas history?

It is the end of an era - again! It's like the weekly end of an era around here!

This is reflective of what resorts in other major cities do all the time: they charge to park. It is clearly management seeing this as a potential revenue source - yet another one. 

One of things that has gone in the corporate era and it's not just with parking. It's pretty much with everything inside the resort. Once you're on the property the meter is running. 

In the old days, when I was a kid. It might have taken a dollar, or a finsky, or even a double sawbuck to slip to a maitre'd or a valet or someone to keep the car close, to get a better seat, to do all that stuff there was kind of an unwritten but very accepted language.

Casinos focused on different elements for their profit centers. It was casino centric and hotels were almost a loss leader at one point. That's changed over the years. 

And frankly, as the casino industry has mostly homogenized and become acceptable in other states other standards of corporate standards are also applying and this is one those.

People will have to pay to park. Will they also have to pay to valet?

That's a question for the future. Certainly at Wynn it is valet oriented for paid parking and free parking in the garage. And others are going to the garage.

The resorts who aren't going to practice this business tactic are going to crow about it. I noticed in the local newspaper this weekend that a columnist was crowing that he's not going to go to these places that make you pay to park. It's all about ethics and standards in Vegas.

It will be interesting to see if other resorts try to capitalize on it, if they can. I tend to think that the folks with the best gadgets and glitter and values and all of that are going to be benefiting from what ever they do. And on the Strip, there are a few major players in that regard.

We have a hockey team with the name the Vegas Golden Knights. Is this a good name?

This is really a tremendously average choice for a mascot. Maybe it will fly, maybe it won't. It is kind of a copycat for a parachuting team from the Army. 

With that said, guess what will make it a really good name? If the team wins! You can call them anything you want. If they win, especially in Las Vegas, the place will be jammed. And the jerseys will be selling like hot cakes.

Will owner Bill Foley take a page from the casinos and make it an event to come to one of the games?

I think he has to. The idea of having a professional sports team in Las Vegas is great for sports fans, but when you bring the franchise you bring it to Las Vegas - this ain't Boise.

They're going to have show glitter. They're going to have to have some pizzazz. I'm not going to say that Celine is going to be there at center ice every night, but I wouldn't be surprised if it weren't something like that. 

I still like my idea for their mascot 'Dudes on Ice.' For some reason, they didn't consider that.

What would have been better than Golden Knights?

Neon Knights! I think the Neon Knights makes more sense. But that's just me, I'm an old neon guy.

You moderated a discussion between someone from the right wing of Israeli politics and one from the left wing. How did that go?

It was really a remarkable experience. The local rabbis association sponsored it and my friend Howard Beckerman invited me to moderate. It was 2016 year of dialogue and dialogue has been so contentious.

It was essentially focused on: In a Trump presidency what will Israeli-American relationship be? What will a Palestinian-Israeli relationship be? Will there be changes?

I'm one of those guys who believes in Tip O'Neill's adage about all politics being local. I think all relationship building between diverse groups, religions, cultures and what not, is also local. I see this as an opportunity and there are many opportunities out there in the community to really air differences, talk about issues, do it civilly. It doesn't mean docilely. And you go forward from there rather than this acrimonious atmosphere that was so pervasive during the campaign season.

You're going to be writing a column for the Independent:

The Nevada Independent is Jon Ralston's new news publication. It's going to folks on news and politics. If I know Ralston, it's going to focus a lot on politics. It's going to start right after the first of the year. It's going to focus on the new session of the Legislature. I will be that fuzzy headed guy walking the streets of downtown, looking up stories and writing a column once a week for the publication.

And I'm excited about it. It will give me a chance to dig back into some local issues that I've been missing.

John L. Smith, contributor 

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