“Sin City” has lived up to its nickname for generations, but the adult playground in the middle of the desert is a lot more than bright casinos, indulgent buffets, and raunchy shows these days.
Las Vegas has become a paragon of water conservation, it’s attracted world-class sports and entertainment … and of course there’s the Sphere, a massive round theater covered on all sides by more than a million LED screens.
So what does it all mean?
Sure, there’s the same vices on full display almost anywhere you go on the Vegas Strip, but the overall look of the city is changing. The Sphere is only the most notable example.
According to Brian Alvarez, who once served as Las Vegas’ cultural commissioner, the introduction of the huge theater, which dwarfs everything else in the city’s skyline, is a symbol of what’s to come.
“The Sphere will define Vegas architecture,” he said. “It’s not a themed building like some of the other spots on the Strip. It’s on par with the Sydney Opera House or the Eiffel Tower for becoming a unique city icon.”
Other signs of the times
In just seven years, Vegas has pursued three major-league sports franchises, boasting an NHL, NFL, and (as soon as its Athletics deal is final) MLB hometown team.
Then there’s the upcoming Formula 1 Grand Prix races, the first of which will take place in less than two months and span 50 laps throughout the heart of the city.
We seem to be in the middle of Vegas’ third major transformation. The first started nearly a century ago when a sleepy desert town attracted visitors by legalizing gambling. About 50 years later, it received a more family-friendly makeover.
The next phase might make it one of the world’s premiere tourist destinations.