McCarran Airport Name Change to Honor Harry Reid Has Update Scheduled

Posted on: October 7, 2021, 02:04h. 

Last updated on: October 9, 2021, 06:55h.

The Clark County Commission is set to hear an update this month on how much private money has been raised to change McCarran International Airport’s name to honor former US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D).

McCarran International Airport
Passengers make their way through Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. The airport is just east of several hotel casinos on the Strip. (Image: Fox 5 Vegas)

At its Oct. 19 meeting, the Commission is expected to learn how much money has been donated to the fund to change the airport name, Erik Pappa, the county public communications director, told 

The Oct. 19 agenda, which is expected to include a report on the donations that have come in, will be posted on the county website on Oct. 13, Pappa said.

The cost to change the signs at the airport and to pay for administrative requirements is estimated at $7.2 million. The changeover can begin when the commission has raised $4.2 million in private donations. The amount needed to trigger the name-change process has not come in yet.

The changeover cannot begin until sufficient donations have been made,” Pappa told this week.

Commissioner Tick Segerblom, a former state legislator who proposed the name change, has said the process will not involve taxpayer money.

So far, two people have pledged $1 million each. One pledge is from Las Vegas businessman Stephen Cloobeck. He has been in the news recently regarding a legal dispute with a former girlfriend. 

The other $1 million pledge is from Las Vegas gambler Billy Walters. In 2017, Walters was convicted of insider trading. President Donald Trump pardoned Walters before leaving office.

September Target Date Missed

During the summer, Segerblom said the name change might take place by the early fall.

Without trying to predict anything, but by the first of September, we’re going to be Harry Reid Airport,” Segerblom said.

The County Commission earlier this year voted unanimously to change the airport name to honor the now-retired Reid. The airport is at the southeast end of the Strip near the Tropicana, MGM Grand, and other major resorts. Because the airport is in the Clark County south of the Las Vegas city limits, it falls under the commission’s jurisdiction.

Controversal Decision

In addition to holding state and local elected positions, Reid, 81, served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission. While on the commission, he feuded publicly with Mob associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal. One confrontation was fictionalized in the 1995 Las Vegas Mafia movie Casino.

McCarran, a Democrat, served in the US Senate from 1933 until his death in 1954. Though McCarran was supportive of civil aviation and the creation of the US Air Force, he has been criticized for alleged racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Earlier this year, Segerblom said McCarran, who was born in Reno 11 years after the end of the Civil War, “represents a Nevada that no longer exists.”

From my perspective, if you put Harry Reid’s name on there, it shows the world that we are a different Nevada,” Segerblom said.

Others have said that naming the airport after any public official could be a problem if a future County Commission deems that person politically unacceptable. Some have suggested calling the site Las Vegas International Airport.