Vegas' future full of 'highly likely' events

Certainty belongs only to youth. My two children are teenagers now, at an age where they are starting to have doubts about the bigger questions in life, but it was just a few short years ago that my daughter, Lily, would say: “I’m positive, Dad. It’s a one hundred percent sure thing.”

“Not even one percent of doubt?” I would inquire. “Nope,” she would say. “It’s a sure thing.”

I, on the other hand, am less certain about anything today than I was as a younger man. The big difference in perspective between my kids and their early 60s old man is that they think, as they should, that they will live forever, while I’m reminded on a monthly basis that we are all just a trickle of blood or an insidious mutating cell inside our bodies away from the exit door.

When I attended college on a golf scholarship and had a fair amount of success my sophomore year, I thought it was a sure thing that I would make my living playing professional golf. One year later, two guys were recruited to our team who could beat me on a regular basis, and the only semi-sure thing was that I could one day land a job selling baskets of beat-up golf balls on a scrabble-dirt driving range. Forget about my becoming Tom Watson, who I competed against for four years in college. Think “Tin Cup.”

I was also told by several of my buddies in high school that a girl I invited to the senior prom was a sure thing. Once again, if you bet the under on that one you would have cashed. She didn’t even go home with me. She caught a ride with a football jock.

So the strongest language I’m willing to go with on the certainty scale these days is the term highly likely.

Regarding our own wonderful city, here are some things that this oft-humbled and wizened observer would consider to be highly likely.

It’s highly likely that the phrase “Las Vegas is recession-proof” will never be uttered by civic analysts ever again. After the whacking that our gaming industry and our housing industry and our tourist numbers took from 2008 to 2012, the idea that we were somehow insulated from economic hardship was a total myth. Yes, we’re slowly improving, but all of us won’t soon forget that we do not live in a bubble here, and that we’re not safely removed from political and economic realities that can flip the switch on us at any given moment.

It’s highly likely that whoever wins next year’s election for Clark County sheriff will have to expend considerable energy in confronting car theft issues and burglary rates because of the proliferation of crackheads operating in Southern Nevada. We learned this firsthand when our car was stolen from our home by meth freaks. (When the car was found two weeks later, my Brooks &Dunn CD in the car stereo had been replaced by Marilyn Manson. I’d rather listen to cats fighting.)

It’s highly likely that we’ll have a major professional sports franchise relocate to Las Vegas within the next five years. It’s also highly likely that crowd support after the first losing season will cause the team owner to have second thoughts about the decision to move here.

It’s highly likely that we won’t have a bullet train from here to Los Angeles in my children’s lifetimes. I remember animated discussions about a super train that could travel at 300 mph and make nonstop trips to Los Angeles in just over an hour. Several politicians, including our then-mayor, Bill Briare, were saying the train idea was the most important single step in the future of Las Vegas. The year of those discussions was 1978. Thirty-five years later, we’re getting by just fine without the train.

It’s highly likely that all those skeptics who thought the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas from a smudgy, outdated afterthought to a cultural signpost for the city would never happen have been permanently muzzled. Month after month, we hear of great new developments occurring. The provocative and intriguing projects that have appeared in the past five years are too long to list. I was one of the biggest skeptics on that issue. I’m delighted to report that I was dead wrong.

It’s highly likely that the Republican National Convention will come to Las Vegas in 2016, or at least in 2020. This will be joyous news to Democrats, who will decry that their opposing party is not only totally evil, but that it has forsaken the moral high ground once and for all.

Of course, we old-timers remember when, 25 years ago, the Southern Baptists held their annual convention here after much discussion and a final vote that came down to a hanging chad or two. The Rev. Jerry Falwell even came along, but his mission statement was that the Baptists were not here so much to discuss issues facing their church, but rather to convert the heathens who live here. Their spokesman was kind enough to say the Baptists had “prayed for every person in Las Vegas by name, at least all of those who have names in the phone book.” Someone forgot to tell him that we have the highest percentage of unlisted phone numbers of any city in the country. So I guess there was no saving us after all.

It’s highly likely that my family and friends will have a Merry Christmas, and that some readers will be offended by my use of the word.

On that last point, as my daughter would say, “It’s a sure thing.

Longtime Las Vegas resident and author Jack Sheehan writes a monthly column for the Review-Journal. He says he loves the city, with all its wonder and weirdness, and thinks it offers the richest menu of writing material on the planet. Email him at