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McCarran becomes Harry Reid International Airport

new signage for harry reid international.jpg
Posted at 9:23 PM, Dec 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 02:03:25-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — On Tuesday, Las Vegas' McCarran International Airport officially became Harry Reid International Airport, named for Nevada's longest-serving state senator.

Gov. Steve Sisolak, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Clark County commissioners, U.S. Department of Transportation Undersecretary Carlos Monje, and the airport's director of aviation held a ceremonial unveiling of the "new" airport Tuesday morning.

The airport reported on Tuesday that immediate changes will be noticeable on the airport’s social media channels and other digital presences.

However, travelers should expect to see the former airport name in various locations as the transition continues. An airport spokesperson said a project of this magnitude will take time to complete and the changing of the signage and monuments surrounding the airport will occur over time.

Previous attempts to rename the airport, which has borne the McCarran name since 1948, failed in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. The change, spear-headed this time around by Commissioner Tick Segerblom of District E, was made official in a unanimous vote of Clark County commissioners in February.

Those in favor of the change argued Sen. Patrick McCarran's name recognition has faded over time and now means little to the millions of locals and visitors who pass through the airport every year. McCarran's legacy was also called into question. As a representative of the Silver State from 1933 to 1954, he's credited with helping to shape the air industry as we know it today — but some say he also left a legacy of racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.

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In a statement supporting the name change, Attorney General Aaron Ford said Reid "worked to right the wrongs of the past through his legislative work" and called the former senator "a champion for Nevada's Black community."

"It's time for Nevada to do our part in confronting our racist history, and to honor a man who has been a true champion for communities that McCarran himself resented," Ford stated.

MORE: Nevada governor also supports idea of renaming McCarran Airport after former Sen. Harry Reid

new signage for harry reid international.jpg
Proposed new signage outside Harry Reid International Airport.

Not everyone has been in favor of replacing McCarran's name with Reid's, however. Tens of thousands of people signed an online petition asking the county commission to take politics out of the name altogether and go with Las Vegas International Airport instead.

The name change came with an estimated $2 million price tag, which county commissioners said would be covered through private donations, at no cost to taxpayers. Stephen J. Cloobeck, founder of Diamond Resorts International, pledged $1 million to help cover the cost.

"He's done so much for Nevada," Cloobeck said of Reid at the time. "So much during the crisis of '08,'09, '10. Saving jobs, making sure the City Center is built — so many other things that are just innumerable when he was the majority leader of the United States Senate."

Reid expressed "deep gratitude" toward the Clark County Commission following the name change vote.

"It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today," he said at the time, thanking Commissioner Segerblom, the commission, and "the many others who have played a part in this renaming" for the honor.