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Early estimate pegs McCarran rename cost at $5M-7M

Updated February 26, 2021 - 3:25 pm

Renaming McCarran International Airport after former Sen. Harry Reid is likely to cost $5 million to $7 million, according to airport officials.

Chris Jones, McCarran spokesman, said the $2 million estimate floated before, including by Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom who championed the renaming, was based off a lesser project scope years ago.

Jones called that a “very old estimate” that dates back close to a decade ago when the name change was first brought up. Also, he said airport staff previously never got to the point where it was directed to figure out the exact cost, which occurred this month when the Clark County Commission voted unanimously to change the name to Harry Reid International Airport.

Jones cautioned the preliminary estimate of $5 million-$7 million is still just an estimate as airport staff is in the very early stages of tabulating the costs.

“The scope of this is vastly different from what has come up before,” Jones said. “You’re talking about removal of the McCarran name, replacing it with the Reid name. Then the other piece that has never come up before is the idea that there should be no cost to the affected businesses. So, the concessionaires or the airlines or any of the other people that are already there.”

Jones pointed out that when Dallas-Fort Worth Airport carried out a rebrading effort, which included changing it’s logo, the work tied to that alone was $1.5 million. McCarran’s renaming would include a new logo and rebranding along with a slew of other updates.

“We will have to come up with a logo, we’re going to have to change the website and we’re going to have to go through so many different pieces of this that we just don’t know yet, because we’re just at the outset of that process of really looking into it,” Jones said.

Coming up with the price of the rename is no simple task and involves several components including construction, branding, IT and the business office to name a few.

“It’s a big thing,” Jones said. “It’s not like there’s just one sign that needs to be changed. How big it is, we won’t know until we’re finished with this process.”

The next step in the formal process is for Clark County Department of Aviation Director Rosemary Vassiliadis to send a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration requesting the name change, along with the minutes from the commission meeting where the airport rename was approved. Those minutes won’t be formally approved until the March 16 commission meeting.

Commissioner Michael Naft said the FAA’s process is expected to take between three to six months to complete once Vassiliadis makes the formal request to rename McCarran.

The chief financial officers from the county and McCarran are working out the details of the account that is being set up that will accept donations to fund the work associated with the name change, Naft said.

Segerblom has previously said he had a number of interested parties ready to donate money to the account and that fulfilling the needed amount wouldn’t be an issue.

The actual name change process won’t begin until the project is fully funded by donations, Naft said.

“We want to make sure that every step of the way this is funded by private dollars,” Naft said. “The county will not … spend any taxpayer dollars on this name change.”

When that process begins at McCarran, officials will carry it out with as little impact as possible on operations, Jones said.

“We’ll do all we can to minimize the operational impact and disruptions, since those things can add to the cost of the changes,” Jones said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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