Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vegas, baby. Vegas.

Spent a little R&R time in Las Vegas last week. This was my second trip and so far I've managed to come back alive, unindicted, and still able to pay the mortgage. This time I even came back a little ahead, not because of any skill on my part but because of a lucky royal flush on video poker.

(That's my Official Gambling Tip: If you can draw a royal flush, by all means do.)

I'm not a big gambler but Vegas is still one of my favorite places because of the unparalleled people-watching and the five-star eavesdropping. (I overheard two conventioneers at a blackjack table seriously discussing whether they should hit a strip club or see Celine Dion.)

So I've been wondering what Charlotte could learn from Vegas, assuming that we're not going to install slot machines up and down Tryon Street anytime soon. Here's a few thoughts:

1. Create a central spot people HAVE to see. Vegas is a huge, sprawling city -- much like Charlotte -- but if you visit there you have to hit the Strip. There's nowhere here that people feel like they have to see. Uptown is a lot more lively than it used to be, but it's still spread out. We need an entertainment district that draws in tourists and locals.

2. Give people something to do when they get there. There's a lot to do in Vegas even if you don't gamble -- you can ride rollercoasters, play carnival games, even pose with terrifyingly lifelike wax figures. In uptown Charlotte there's not all that much to do, unless you're a kid at Discovery Place. We need stuff for people who like to do more than watch. (If there's not some sort of driving simulator at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, those guys are morons.)

3. Make parking easier. Time and time again I've heard people from the Charlotte suburbs say they don't come uptown for events because it's too hard -- and too expensive -- to park. In Vegas all the casinos have free parking decks. Maybe that's an option for our parking decks after 5 and on weekends.

4. Provide options at every price level. In Vegas, you can buy a $50 steak or a 99-cent hot dog. You can play the slots for $500 a shot or a penny a pull. Charlotte isn't as accessible across the board. It's harder to get cheap tickets to good events. We maximize our dollars -- a Charlotte virtue -- but we lose out on a little funk and fun. Plus, Vegas understands that a cheap meal (and a free parking space) is a loss leader.

5. Don't be afraid of shameless commerce. In Vegas, the glitzy billboards and flyers for various, uh, services are part of the scenery. In Charlotte, street musicians have to get permits and they won't even allow ads on city buses. Sometimes a little selling out is a good thing.

6. Wayne Newton. I don't really have anything to add, just, Wayne Newton.

Any other ways we could learn from Vegas? Or do you just have a good Vegas story? Add your tales of woe and blackjack in the comments.


Anonymous said...

a good blackjack story would be nice.

maybe Charlotte will turn into sin city also

Anonymous said...

CLT needs more street musicians.

Anonymous said...

We're leaving Las Vegas for Charlotte in a few weeks. We can't wait to get out of here. We are looking foward to living in Charlotte because it is NOT Vegas, and the people of Charlotte are 1,000 times friendlier than here. This place is just a L.A. wannabe.

Anonymous said...

Take a turn from a city like Denver. It's 16th Street Mall is a great place for people-watching, shopping and dining. Charlotte should block off a couple blocks in uptown and create a similar "people" district... (It'd be an obvious place to highlight the street musicians mentioned by an earlier poster.)

We the people said...

Calling people in other cities "morons" in print doesn't help our image a whole lot no matter what we add to the City.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why people have to be entertained all the time? I find sitting on my front porch on my futon just as relaxing as buzzing off to some god forsaken dessert twon grown up to waste precious few dollars I may have.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce, reading is fundamental ... he didn't call anyone in any other city a moron, he suggested that if there isn't a driving simulator at the upcoming Nascar Hall of Fame then the planners for that site are "morons". Sure the author could have done a little research to see if there were such plans, but it does sound like a great idea to me.

Anonymous said...

I would love to go to vegas someday, I would love to go there and see all the sights maybe play a few slotmachines and play some bingo. Through in a Tom Jones concert if he still does them. see some ratpack tributes. Would love to have seen Frank sinatra live in vegas.ahhhhhhh one day.I have been playing the demo games on this online casino uk site. I have also got into playing keno games which is similiar to bingo except you get to pick your numbers before the game starts. I like playing neptunes keno the most. they have also got online fruit machine demos too. its all given me the taste for Vegas.