Hot in July and we hope Hot in August, too

The Hot August Nights show in Reno, Nev., August 2009.

July has just about found its way out of the door; it was hot. In Reno we have two weeks of hot weather but others may have had in worse. In Massachusetts they have a month of high temperatures in the legislature as they try to pass casino legislation before the end of their session.  In Atlantic City, air conditions broke and Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia turned up the heat by adding table games. The District of Columbia is almost always hot when Congress is in session and with a new administration and extremely polarized parties debating health care, budgets, economic reform and stimulus it has been really hot this year – but an issue known for its political heat in the past – gaming – seemed to go almost unnoticed when Barney’s committee passed its online gaming bill.

In Reno we had two months worth of heat in one month, the air was hot with July sunshine and Hot August Nights anguish.  In July we could go to the park for Artown and cool down, but without Hot August Nights, August nights would not be hot in Reno, but instead they would be really cold.  We learned in July the even might not always be hear.  The city of Reno, the gaming industry and most of the rest of us went to sleep and left the operation of the area’s singly most important financial event up to a paid director with private agenda and a board of directors that did not object.  Beginning this year, the event is going to have a Long Beach existence, the director thinks that will enhance the event, increase its revenue stream and certainly make the people in his hometown – Long Beach happy; whether that means it will disappear from Reno no one can say for sure.  But what is for certain, the area does not own the name, the event nor indeed have any real control or even a voice in the direction the event takes.

It was so good, so successful and so profitable for the community that over the years oversight was delegated further and further away from the people, businesses and organization that had a real vested interest in the annual event and its impact on the community.  So, for example, when one of the previous directors thought to make it more exclusive by raising the rates and restricting the number of cars that was a great idea to him, gave him more control and pleased his board of directors.  But to the community in need of as many people, as many room nights and as much commercial activity as possible was it a good idea for the region?

In the beginning the board of directors was composed of major business owners, city leaders and others with  a real stake in the success of the event – it may be too late, but at the very least it is time to put people on the board that are minding the interests of the community.  Reno’s tourism industry has lost half of its visitors in the last 25 years due to the expansion of gaming on the West Coast, literally from nearly six million visitors a year to three million. That makes all of the Reno-Sparks area’s  “special events” that much more important to the financial health of the area.  The Reno Rodeo, Artown, Hot August Nights, the balloon and air races all make major contributions to our economy and need to given our support and attention. Otherwise the business temperatures are likely to drop even more drastically than they have in the last two years.


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