This year’s presidential election has been more than a little contentious. The final 2016 presidential debate will be held on the UNLV campus on October 19th, putting Las Vegas in the national spotlight for the most highly anticipated debate of all: the final showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton before the election.
What does the 2016 Presidential Debate mean for Las Vegas?
As national news outlets are broadcasting from Vegas, the city is reflecting on what this kind of national attention could mean for the city, which has traditionally received attention for gaming, tourism, and entertainment. This kind of attention will be entirely different, and it has a lot of people speculating about its future impact.
According to UNLV Magazine, securing the debate was all part of a strategy by top brass at the university to gain recognition as a Top Tier public university in research, education, and community impact. This final debate will have some serious community impact, helping to propel UNLV towards its goal, which they hope to achieve by 2025.
What could having a top-tier university mean for Las Vegas? Well, for one thing, the focus may shift a little from Rebel basketball to UNLV’s other achievements, attracting more top students from around the country, supplying Las Vegas with a strong workforce, which would, in turn, bring more innovation, industry, and professionals to the Las Vegas area. UNLV Magazine predicts that top tier status for UNLV will lead to economic development efforts, fostering a climate of innovation, improvement of healthcare in the region, and enrichment of the cultural vitality of the community.
Vegas has become more locals-friendly of late, and creating new jobs and industries outside of the gaming industry could bring national recognition to Las Vegas, positioning it to bring even more conferences and conventions. While it might initially shift the attention away from casinos and tourism, the additional influx of business travelers would, potentially, lead to more restaurants, hotels, entertainment, and transportation to serve them.
Who are the political players in Las Vegas?
While Las Vegas may be known more for partying than for politics, the city is no stranger to political attention, as the home to two major political movers and shakers: Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.
What is Sheldon Adelson’s involvement?
Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Venetian and the Sands Expo Convention Center—as well as other properties around the world, has been a major player in the Republican party for some time now. After switching political parties—citing his beliefs that (1) Republicans support Israel more than Democrats, (2) Republicans are more charitable than Democrats, and (3) fiscal policy that was more in line with his economic views—Adelson has thrown himself whole-heartedly into his political efforts for the Republican party, even hosting one of the GOP debates at the Venetian earlier in the election.
The casino magnate and owner of The Las Vegas Review-Journal, endorsed Donald Trump earlier in the election. As the 21st richest person in the world, he was the largest donor in the 2012 election, donating over $100 million. When he endorsed Trump, he explained that he “felt strongly that someone with that level of CEO experience would be well-trained for the job of president.” Since then, however, he has changed his tune and has not contributed money to the campaign, after his initial plans to donate $65 million to the campaign.
What is Steve Wynn’s involvement?
Steve Wynn—who has made sizable contributions to Nevada’s Republican State Leadership Committee, the Republican Governors Association, and other political groups in the past—has found himself in the position of choosing between friends during the 2016 election, as he is friends with both the Clintons and Trump. He is not alone in his awkwardness, as former BFFs Ivanka Trump and Chelsea Clinton have had to cool down their previously very public friendship during the election. Since he is close to both families, he will not reveal who he is backing for president. Wynn told CNN that he has not even decided who he will vote for, as he is “waiting for someone to have a responsible conversation and discuss the issues that affect the American people.” Wynn says that he will decide who to vote for after the debates.
The debate is one that is certain to keep the eyes of the nation on Las Vegas during what is, quite possibly, the most talked about election ever. No matter what happens during the debate, hosting the debate is good news for Las Vegas. While we may always be “Sin City”, this national attention has the potential to shift the future of the city.
Regular updates for the impact on parking, traffic, and other logistical information can be found at https://www.unlv.edu/2016debate/campus-impacts.