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Strip road closures should be welcomed, not loathed

Updated April 18, 2022 - 9:02 am

Motorists started to feel the impacts last week of the construction tied to hosting the NFL Draft in Las Vegas. Instead of complaining about it, they should welcome it.

Lane closures in front of the Bellagio were put into place Wednesday to begin constructing the red carpet stage “floating” over the Fountains at Bellagio. The much-talked-about aspect of the draft is leading to lane closures in the area until May 6.

Those three weeks of limited lane impacts are a small give on the public’s part to be able to host major events on the Las Vegas Strip. When the draft is taking place April 28-30, the Strip from Bellagio Lane to the Flamingo Road intersection will be completely closed to traffic. Flamingo from the Strip east to Koval Lane also will be closed.

Closing portions of Las Vegas Boulevard is nothing new, and area officials have become quite good at carrying out such plans.

Each year a large stretch of the Strip is shut down to host “America’s Party,” better known as New Year’s Eve. Hundreds of thousands of people swarm the Strip, party and then crews clean up and have the Strip reopened by the first sunrise each Jan. 1.

Officials coordinate the several-hour closure each year and coordinate with public transportation to ensure those who ride the Regional Transportation Commission buses are still able to navigate the city.

The Las Vegas Monorail has one of its most useful days on New Year’s Eve, since it’s the only public transportation mode operating along the Strip during the road closure. The monorail will be an important part of the NFL Draft transportation plan, as well. Locals can park for free at the Las Vegas Convention Center and take a discounted ride on the monorail to draft central. Oh, and attending the draft and the Draft Experience is also free.

All locals planning to attend the draft should take advantage of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority’s offer.

Runners also take to the boulevard to trek under the lights annually for the Rock ’n’ Roll marathon. The closure of the Strip tied to that extends into downtown, and yet, people manage to go about their daily lives with some mild complaints on social media.

Yet another event is set to take place at night on the Strip next year when Formula One hosts the Las Vegas Grand Prix.

For three evenings in November, the Strip between Spring Mountain Road and Harmon Avenue will close for up to seven hours a night as the racers practice, qualify and compete in the race. Those drivers will hit speeds of over 212 mph, making area residents who routinely travel over 100 mph on the 215 Beltway look like Sunday drivers.

Of course, these events aren’t allowed to take place and disrupt traffic flow just for the spectacle themselves. There’s money involved, lots of money.

The 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee, saw over 600,000 people attend over three days, generating an economic impact for that city of $224 million. If NFL and area tourism officials’ projections are correct, Las Vegas’ version will be even bigger so hundreds of millions of dollars could be dumped into the Las Vegas economy over that long weekend.

The F1 event is faster and expected to be a bigger money draw, with Gov. Steve Sisolak expecting 170,000 people to travel to Las Vegas to take part in one of only three U.S. F1 races.

Those attendees will rack up 400,000 room nights over those three to four days, raking in over $1 billion in indirect economic impact.

So, although there are major Strip impacts associated with the large events that Las Vegas has become accustomed to hosting, they are worth the few days per year of impacts that hospitality industry employees and tourists have to endure.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.

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