“Close your eyes,” Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman instructed the crowd at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in his final State of the City address Tuesday night. He then directed his guests to picture what the very piece of land on which they were sitting looked like 12 years earlier, when that swath of Downtown was a former Union Pacific rail yard, contaminated and left to rot. Now look up, he told them, gesturing to the interior of architect Frank Gehry’s impressive dome. “I believe that picture is worth more than anything I could say.”
But he said it anyway, of course. With time running out on his final term, Goodman put on his usual show. He arrived flanked by showgirls, ribbed the City Council members and paused halfway through his speech to take a sip from a martini on the podium. “What did you put in here?” he coughed. “This is the real deal. This is pretty good.”
Goodman also revisited a favorite Vegas notion—transformation: the El Cortez’s makeover, the Lou Ruvo Center, Symphony Park, the Smith Center. “It’s going to be like La Scala in Milan,” he gushed of the latter. “It’s going to be there for eons.” But more important than the physical monuments to Goodman’s time in office is the pro-gress made toward a Downtown Las Vegas that’s fully peopled, crowded, with grocery stores. Goodman suggested Zappos’ move to City Hall in 2012 might be the final puzzle piece. “For the first time in Downtown Las Vegas, we’re going to have a critical mass. We’re going to have people,” Goodman said enthusiastically. Where will they all park? Let the next mayor figure that out.