Happy summer to all of you. In this month’s newsletter, we cover news from around the RSCVA and the Reno Tahoe destination.
The RSCVA welcomes Grand Sierra Resort General Manager Shannon Keel to its Board of Directors. Ms. Keel was elected to the RSCVA Board at its June 27th meeting and will be seated in July for a two-year term. Ms. Keel replaces the seat of Rick Murdock, Vice President of Eldorado Resorts, whose term expires. We thank Mr. Murdock for his invaluable service to the RSCVA and our community these past few years.
Ann Silver, Chief Executive Officer of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce was also reappointed to a two-year term.
As the RSCVA begins Fiscal Year 2019–2020 this month, the RSCVA Board of Directors voted unanimously on a slate of core goals and objectives, for the CEO and Senior Executive team, that have been previously developed and recommended by the Board’s Executive & Legislative Committee. Some highlights include increasing visitor growth to 1,231,000 room nights from the destination’s three primary markets of the Los Angeles basin, San Francisco Bay area and Seattle measured on the calendar year. In convention sales, the target has been increased and set at 290,000 room nights booked of future meetings business.
The Reno–Sparks Convention Center (RSCC) through the RSCVA has made a big move to “go green” with the execution of a supply contract with Avalon Geothermal. Areas near the Convention Center are geothermal hotspots here in the Truckee Meadows. Avalon plans to tap hot water sources as deep as 4,000 feet underground and pipe hot water in the temperature range of 160 to 190 degrees to the Convention Center and other commercial customers nearby, too.
Through an on-site heat exchanger at the RSCC, this hot-water supply will then in turn heat the entire 700,000+ square foot building at a significant cost savings to fossil fuel alternatives. The green initiative will reduce the Convention Center’s carbon footprint and utility bills, while utilizing an available natural, green and renewable local energy source that comes online in 2020.
The summer of 2018 brought devastating fires in Northern California with the Camp Fire being the state’s deadliest and most destructive in its history. Starting this summer, NV Energy is collaborating with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and regional electricity providers at Lake Tahoe to work together to protect our region from similar disaster while abating risks to life, property and natural resources.
Summer at the Lake can bring risky conditions based on low humidity, hot temperatures, high winds and dry vegetation that can mix together as ingredients for a blaze. Hence, NV Energy is planning to temporarily cut or reduce power service at the Lake when conditions become dangerous. This proposed occasional action by the power companies involved will be an inconvenience to resorts, their guests and residents alike, but the power companies feel it is necessary as a cautionary step for fire prevention, as high voltage equipment and transmission lines can become catalysts for an incident. The RSCVA is monitoring the situation as to ramifications to tourism.
The Nevada State Legislature ended its 2019 session on June 3rd. The Reno Rodeo Association received funding from the legislature of $1 million for the planning and schematic design of a master plan to “rehabilitate, repair, renovate and improve” the Reno-Sparks Livestock Events Center – which is owned by the State of Nevada, leased to Washoe County and operated by the RSCVA. The Reno Rodeo Association, that produces the rodeo, will ideally through this master plan begin to address the future redevelopment needs for the rodeo and undoubtably those of other equestrian, livestock and agricultural events. This will be a lengthy and expensive undertaking, but if successful will help modernize the grounds substantially to the benefit of the entire Reno Tahoe community. The Reno Rodeo Association recently celebrated the 100th anniversary of our hometown Reno Rodeo.
Taking advantage of attractive lower rates in the bond market, the RSCVA refinanced $70 million of its long-term debt in June to take advantage of financially favorable conditions. The refinanced debt stems generally from the last expansion of the Convention Center in 2000. The bonds are paid by room taxes levied on visiting tourists during their stay, not by the citizens of Washoe County. There was no change in the maturity date, with the bond payoff still occurring in January 2033. The strategic action was approved unanimously by both the nine-member RSCVA Board of Directors and the five-member Washoe County Board of Commissioners. The action saves the RSCVA about $9 million in interest payments over the remaining bond period.
June 25th brought the escrow closure of Wildcreek Golf Course with Washoe County. The approximately 212-acre parcel formerly owned by the RSCVA now transfers to Washoe County to be repurposed. Washoe County School District will purchase from the county approximately 75 acres for the site of the new Wildcreek High School, with the remainder of the property being reworked into ideally a nine-hole golf course and public park space for outdoor enjoyment and recreation.
The Washington Post published this month a very complimentary article about Reno Tahoe and our trendy arts and culture scene—read the full piece here.
The newspaper’s coverage galvanizes the growing national reputation and popularity of our destination while creating a strong buzz in mainstream media.
Lastly, congratulations to Reno’s Eldorado Resorts, Inc., the Carano family and key executives who have announced one of the largest gaming transactions in history—the merger of ERI with Caesars Entertainment. According to the Associated Press, the deal is valued at $17.3 Billion and will create the largest gambling operator in the United States—with 60 casino resorts in 16 states. It’s a tremendous business achievement and let’s all say, “way to go!”
Many thanks for your interest in Northern Nevada tourism. I hope you enjoy your summer.
— Phil DeLone
President & CEO
Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority