Here's this week's column in the Las Vegas Weekly defending not the idea of stimulus money paying for the mob museum but the idea of the museum itself. Believe it or not -- and I didn't quite believe it at first -- lots of people think it would be a clunker with tourists.
Lawyers, guns ... and money
Why a mob museum in Las Vegas would be criminally successful
By STEVE FRIESS
Every so often, I’m surprised to be holding a minority opinion among friends and journalism colleagues. There are truths that seem so blatantly obvious that it doesn’t even occur to me that anyone would disagree.
So here’s one: A legitimate mob museum at the beautiful, restored historic old federal building Downtown would be an enormous success for Las Vegas.
Now, that’s not the same as saying I support using money from the federal stimulus package to pay for the Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. Aside from the fact that I can’t touch that matter because I’ve been covering it as a controversy for some of my newspaper clients, I don’t have a strong opinion anyway.
As I’ve covered that debate, though, I’ve been stunned to realize people actually question whether it could be an appealing tourist attraction.
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, for instance, was such a full-throated advocate for the Atomic Testing Museum that there’s a room that bears her name in the same building. Yet she detoured from the funding question in my interview with her to groan, “You know, we’re trying to show the world that Las Vegas is moving beyond its past, and then we do something like a mob museum.”
A few days later, my Las Vegas Weekly colleague Richard Abowitz came out on his Los Angeles Times blog as believing a mob museum “is a horrible idea. In 2009, Vegas has reinvented itself in so many ways and so many times that a mob museum already sounds quaint and dated.”
But the big epiphany came during last Friday’s taping of Nevada Week in Review, when I went 4-on-1 on this very question in a fiery scrum that resulted in 10 unusually entertaining minutes for PBS. Fox 5’s John Huck called a mob museum a potential “white elephant,” the Review-Journal’s Howard Stutz suggested it was Oscar Goodman’s legacy hail Mary, and show host Mitch Fox was baffled over what one would even put in such a place. And, most fun of all, Las Vegas Sun political maestro Jon Ralston nearly shouted his belief that people aren’t going to go Downtown for something like this.
Read the rest HERE