weather icon Clear

Las Vegas shooting site plan draws mixed reaction

Updated September 3, 2019 - 11:15 pm

MGM Resorts International’s plans to build a community center on concert grounds targeted by a gunman nearly two years ago drew praise from some, but left others chagrined by a move to use the site for a temporary parking lot.

The plans, announced Tuesday, also call for a dedicated space to remember the victims of the shooting.

The center will be built on the north end of the The Las Vegas Village concert grounds. MGM plans to use the site for sporting events and community gatherings such as high school basketball tournaments, indoor soccer for kids and a practice facility that allows the Aces professional women’s basketball team to engage with the community.

“We know that for many, the Village property will forever be linked to the tragic loss of life that took place there on October 1st,” according to a Tuesday statement from MGM. “It was important to us that the long-term use of the property include the community in some way.”

‘It brings life’

The grounds, located between Mandalay Bay Boulevard and Las Vegas Boulevard, hosted the 2017 Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017, and were the target of a gunman who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. MGM plans to have construction activity near the property “over the coming weeks and months,” according to the statement.

Clark County Commissioner Jim Gibson, whose district includes the venue, said he thought there was “something special” about turning the site of a tragedy into a community center that brings people together.

“We shouldn’t freeze ourselves in time. We have to move on, but more respectfully. Keeping in our memory the people who suffered and suffer yet,” he said. “But it’s also important for us to live on. … It brings life, and we need life to be there.”

A Tuesday statement from MGM said it will share plans for the center as they advance. In the meantime, the concert grounds will be used for parking during games and concerts at Allegiant Stadium.

“It’s not a bad use; it’s a temporary use,” Gibson said. “A whole lot of Clark County residents are trying to find parking for the Allegiant Stadium.”

But others were dissatisfied with the grounds’ use as a parking lot. Tracy Shipp, the sister of 50-year-old Laura Shipp who was shot at the concert after leaving to go to the bathroom, likened it to “trampling on sacred ground.”

“A parking lot? That is not going to sit well with everybody that is still in pain,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “My grief counselor says the second year is even harder than the first, and I think the timing of this news … I mean, don’t you have to ask what we feel?”

Shipp said that she heard from survivors and other relatives of victims who were upset that a parking lot would be built on the concert grounds.

But when she learned there was a plan for a memorial and athletic center at the site as well, Shipp added that she only hopes that it “brings people together to do things and they can feel safe.”

Still, she said, it will never bring back her baby sister, a single mom who had a fierce love for her family and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“I had her for 50 years, her whole life, we were partners in crime. I still break down every day,” she said. “She was a mom way before me, and she was pretty much teaching me the ropes. Now it’s like I don’t have anybody to ask for advice.”

‘A safe haven’

It took nearly two years for MGM to announce its plans for the site, but Gibson said it was worth the wait.

“I respect the fact that they didn’t rush in to do something,” he said. “Our community needed to settle down before we could deal with a community (center) there.”

But others, including former Las Vegas school bus driver Sue Ann Cornwell, wishes these efforts had come sooner.

Cornwell drove 50-year-old Denise Burditus, of West Virginia, in her blue Ford Ranger the night of Oct. 1, 2017, after Burditus had been shot in the head in front of her husband, Tony. To this day, she still tends to the tree at the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden that bears Burditus’ name and picture.

“I think they should have already built the memorial, and have had something in the works,” she said. “El Paso already has something in the works at the Walmart site, and here we are two years later.”

To her, the Village property should serve the same purpose as the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden, but at a larger scale.

“I get that (MGM is) in the business of making money, and I also get that something horrific happened there,” Cornwell said.

She suggested the memorial could be a butterfly sanctuary, or a walk-through garden, “something that brings peace and harmony to the community.”

“I would like to see the property become something of a safe haven, where you can take kids and teach them something positive,” she said.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter. Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas developer talks about a new apartment complex called “the yoU”
Frank Marretti lll, founder of G2 Capital Development, talks about his new apartment complex called “the yoU” near UNLV. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Steel cables will hoist roof at Allegiant Stadium - VIDEO
Stainless steel cables are being put into place at Allegiant Stadium to begin the process of putting the roof on the 65,000-seat stadium in Las Vegas. Stadium Chief Operating Officer Don Webb explains how the cables will be used to get the roof put on the future home of the Raiders and UNLV football. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The last remaining Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas
Derek Stevens, owner of the D Las Vegas, talks about the last remaining Sigma Derby horse racing game in Las Vegas inside his casino floor. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Review
Janine Blake of Las Vegas gives her review of the new Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich at the restaurant’s location on west Bonanza Road on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019,
SuperZoo 2019 takes over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
SuperZoo 2019 show for pet retailers brought pet products of all description to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MSG Sphere at The Venetian to cost $1.2B plus
Scheduled to open in 2021, it is expected to be busier than Madison Square Garden in New York. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Favorite products from SuperZoo 2019
Some of the fun and interesting pet products on display at the SuperZoo in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Convention Day 3
The fashion trade show MAGIC, held Monday through Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MAGIC Las Vegas - Day One
The biannual MAGIC convention show opened Monday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Nevada's sportsbook operators welcome competition
Sportsbook operators from near and far are looking to get into in the established Nevada market, experts say. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get a first look of MSG Sphere construction in Las Vegas
Representatives of The Madison Square Garden Company give the first glimpse of progress Tuesday of the under-construction MSG Sphere — a first-of-its-kind performance venue with high-tech audio and visual capabilities.
There's a new place to play board games in Las Vegas
Matt Smiciklas, co-owner of Boarding School Games, talks about the new Las Vegas business that he co-owns with Emily Labejof. Dedicated tabletop gamers can choose from more than 500 games to play for free in-store. The doors open to the public Saturday, July 20, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Renovations at the STRAT
Analysts say the $140 million renovation project at The STRAT, formerly the known as the Stratosphere, could help the hotel-casino compete with the evolving north side of the Las Vegas Strip. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
SLS Las Vegas will become Sahara Las Vegas
Owner Alex Meruelo announced during a special event at the SLS Las Vegas that the hotel-casino will become Sahara Las Vegas in its next iteration. Meruelo said $150 million dollars will be spent to renovate the current property. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Aircraft hinge maker moves to "business friendly" Nevada
Doug Silva, president of Aircraft Hinge, Inc. in Las Vegas, makes every type of hinge for every type of airplane. Silva talks about his company and why he moved it to Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Daytime fireworks mark the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
The opening of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. included a three-minute fireworks show launched by Fireworks by Grucci Sunday, June 23, 2019. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @RickVelotta
Elaine Wynn talks about the opening of Encore Boston Harbor
Elaine Wynn, co-founder and largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts, talked during opening festivities of the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
People line hours ahead of opening for Encore Boston Harbor
Guests arrive as much as 17 hours early for the 10 a.m. opening of the $2.6 billion, 671-room resort in Everett, Mass. Sunday, June 23, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @reviewjournal.com
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms - Video
Allegiant Discusses Investments In Golf Course Software And Game Rooms.
Crews working 24/7 to complete Circa downtown - VIDEO
Owner Derek Stevens goal is to open the doors to the 1.25 million-square-foot project by December 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Auto workers strike against GM in contract dispute

More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked off General Motors factory floors or set up picket lines early Monday as contract talks with the company deteriorated into a strike.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma files for bankruptcy

The company that made billions selling the prescription painkiller OxyContin has filed for bankruptcy days after reaching a tentative settlement with many of the state and local governments suing it over the toll of opioids.

New Jersey casinos woo bettors with new sportsbooks

Now in its second year of allowing sports betting, the state has seen sports wagering surpass expectations, and Atlantic City casinos are upping their game with new sportsbooks.

Price gap between new and resale homes nearing $100k in Las Vegas

The median sales price of a newly built single-family house in Southern Nevada was around $389,450 in July, compared with $295,000 for a previously owned one, a gap of almost $94,450, according to data from Las Vegas-based Home Builders Research.