We here at the Reno News & Review have done a lot of hand-wringing over Reno’s future as of late. We’re not new to the game, we’ve been commenting on our various government entities’ and elected officials’ disregard of economic realities for almost two decades, but lately we’ve zeroing in on ideas that have the potential to augment our city’s tourism future. While we believe gambling will always have a place in Northern Nevada, it’s become apparent that filling hotel rooms with non-gambling tourists is crucial.
We started our salvo with the RenoGen issue that we put out on Dec. 31, 2010. The entire issue’s contents can be accessed at www.newsreview.com/reno/2010-12-30/archive. In that issue, we proposed that Northern Nevada refocus on becoming a great place for Northern Nevadans to live and work, and we suggested that our new focus—the people we should attempt to attract to town—should be the group that’s generally called “cultural consumers”: The 20- and 30-somethings who have a wide variety of skills and interests, who want to be stimulated, not just on Friday and Saturday nights, but every night.
As 2011 progressed, the economic news continued to deteriorate, although we’ve noted occasional bright spots. For example, the unexpected nascent revival of East Fourth Street—a collaboration of diverse interests that’s got the historically troubled area improving in spite of government intervention.
This week, we’ve focused on another business, CommRow, which may add another piece to the tourism pie. That, of course, remains to be seen, but if Fernando Leal can achieve half of what he envisions, those cultural consumers are going to have a big reason to visit this city—and maybe relocate.
Certain themes have arisen through all this discussion. For one, tourists will travel to see or do something unique. This uniqueness might be location based; for example, Reno’s East Fourth Street corridor does not exist anywhere else in the world; it has enormous potential to be the cultural—meaning music, art, sports and leisure—corridor of Reno. Those buildings are authentic and unreproduceable.
But other things have the potential to be just as unique, even if they’re new. For example, the world’s tallest outdoor climbing wall. That superlative, tallest, makes it something for which some people will travel. CommRow may someday also have Reno’s oldest public building buzzing with life. It’s easy to imagine other properties in town offering something—anything—that can’t be gotten anywhere else in the world. Like, imagine painting the Silver Legacy’s dome into the world’s largest bowling ball when the bowlers are in town or the world’s largest basketball when the Wolf Pack goes to the NCAA tournament? Or heck, put some ropes on it and let people rappel down.
Northern Nevada, and Reno, have many unique environmental things—the Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River, innumerable days of sunshine, skiing. It’s time that Reno stop emphasizing what exists in almost every state in the union, and start using tourism tax dollars to sell what’s unique about our locale and attract the type of educated cultural consumer who could be the future of this city.