Summer is grinding to a halt. School starts next week and temperatures have fallen well below that 110-degree mark we hit several times just a week ago.
This week’s rains have contributed.
Tuesday night’s deluge knocked out power for a couple of hours until about 4 a.m. and the nighttime temperature slid into the 60s, unheard of at this time of year.
It doesn’t look like we had too much flood damage. There’s some mud washed onto the boulevards, but nothing to slow traffic.
Thunderstorms are to stay with us through today keeping the temperature in the low 90s. But the skies will clear over the weekend and the mercury will bubble up into the high 90s.
The first day of school may well see triple-digit temperatures as the weather dries out.
But summer’s brutal weather is about to turn into our more pleasant fall climate. We’ve survived another summer in the Virgin Valley.
Or at least, most of us survived.
But the cries of businessmen last year that they could not survive another summer’s business slowdown proved true for some.
Looking out the front window of the MLN’s office, you can see the going out of business sign at Juicy Juice and Mesquite Casual Wear, with its window covered in hand-lettering: Everything $5 to $10. There were some good buys, but with sad good byes.
Michael Johns bucked the trend and opened a new business, Cucina Italiana. Let’s hope his early success continues.
Mesquite city government answered the call last year for some new facility to attract business during our stifling summers. The old amphitheater plan was jettisoned, with Nevada Community Solutions along with it.
The new plan was to buy a large canvas-and-steel structure being used by Boeing as a hanger for experimental aircraft. The city had to act quickly for two reasons: someone else might take advantage of the good deal and businesses, along with the chamber of commerce, lined up to say if something wasn’t in place by the beginning of Summer 2012, many would go under.
During discussions and deliberations, plans were modified. Requests for Qualifications went out, finalist were selected. And although the crucial 2012 summer is all but past, the schedule is for the council to vote, up or down, its first meeting in September if it will proceed with a Mesquite Indoor Sports Center.
So how bad was business? I haven’t seen anything for summer this year. That data still is being crunched by the number crunchers.
But the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) did release the 2011 Mesquite Visitor Profile Study a few weeks past. That profile compiles data that the LVCVA accrues itself with information from the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The report was glowing – in a deadly, radioactive sort of way. Only gross gaming revenues showed an increase; visitor volume, hotel room occupancy and the nights visitors stayed, as well as traffic passing up and down the I-15 corridor were all at levels below 2010 in 2011.
First, the little positive news in the report: Gross Gaming Revenues increased one entire percentage point from 2010 to 2011. Casinos made $115,774,000 in 2010 and $116,955,000 in 2011. That’s an increase of almost $1.2 million – a lot for you or me, but not a bellwether of an economic turnaround.
The gaming revenues of 2011 sunk to the level of a decade ago. Mesquite gaming revenues in 2003 were $112 million, which was a growing trend. Those revenues in 2002 were $109 million; $102 million the year before and just $96 million in 2000 as the 20th Century ended.
But 2011’s $116,955,000 is paltry compared to the top year in the first decade of the 21st Century. That was 2007, a different world indeed, when local gaming revenues peaked at $164 million, a 2.4 percent increase over 2006 when those revenues were reported near $160 million. That was a big jump over 2005 when $143 million was the total, which was $20 million more than the $112 million in gross gaming revenues reported in 2003.
After 2007, gaming revenues started to slide with the rest of the U.S. economy: $144 million in 2008; $120 million in 2009 before dropping $5 million into 2010’s total.
So a one-percent gain, although not remarkable, possibly has broken that downward trend since the 2007 high. We’ll have to wait and see.
The increase in 2011 certainly wasn’t because of more visitors. The LVCVA reports that 981,541 visitors came to Mesquite in 2011, a decrease of 7.5 percent from the 995,120 tourists who visited here in 2010. About 94 percent of those visitors have been here before. Only one percent of that crowd came here for vacation or pleasure. Gambling drew just 16 percent of them. Just over a third were just passing through and decided to stop – the city council’s recent action to amend the city code would allow construction of an electronic events board publicizing local events in an attempt to snag more passing.
Almost half of the visitors in 2011 who were asked why they stopped here, checked the “other” box for the reason of their visit.
But while gambling wasn’t the main reason people came to Mesquite, 97 percent of the total did play the machines and table games in Mesquite while they were here. Following the steady trend since 2007, however, they budgeted less for gambling. Visitors budgeted $280.19 for gaming in 2007; $274.78 in 2008; $270.85 in 2009; $239.77 in 2010; and $207.40 in 2011.
It’s a slightly younger crowd than in past years. The average age has meandered from 58 to 59 and back the past four years, but was 57 in 2011.
Another possible good trend to be found in the 2011 Mesquite Visitor Profile Study is how much money per person our visitors spent while here. The estimated 2011 amount was $52.65, almost a buck and a half more than a year ago. It’s also the highest amount since 2007, when visitors, on average, spent $56.42 each. But when you look at what that spending was, the sweet turns sour.
It costs visitors $3.45 each for fuel, almost 50 cents more than last year and twice the fuel costs in 2007. Recreational spending plummeted to $2.22 per person. It was $6.18 in 2010; and $9.58 in 2009, the highest level reported, although recreation spending in other years on the report were double or triple the amount in 2011.
Hotel room occupancy during 2011 reached its peak in March and April of that year, 93.2 percent and 92.1 percent respectively. But the low point in room occupancy wasn’t summer with July’s rate 75.4 percent and August and September filling just over 69 percent of the rooms each month. The lowest room occupancy rate occurred in December at 59.4 percent, 11.6 percent less than December 2010.
It seems that although Mesquite shares some of the same typography and palm tree-filled vistas as the Holy Land, we’re just not a Christmastime destination that comes to mind.
Spring is the time when visitors fill our hotel rooms, seeking a break from winter’s grip. But while fall may not be the best time of year for hotel-room occupancy, Mesquite’s occupants relish it, as a break from summer’s heat and a time when our friends who flee the heat return home.