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Las Vegas airport officially named Harry Reid International Airport

A digital screen reads Harry Reid International Las Vegas. It's placed in the airport to the left of an American flag.
Lucretia Cunningham
KUNR Public Radio
A screen inside Terminal 3 at the Las Vegas commercial airport shows Harry Reid International on Dec. 14, 2021. Formerly McCarran International Airport, the name was officially changed after private donors raised $4.2 million to initiate the project.

The airport in Las Vegas is officially the Harry Reid International Airport. KUNR’s Lucretia Cunningham attended the ceremony this week where Governor Steve Sisolak helped to unveil the new name.

City leaders and Reid’s family joined the governor at the event to mark the airport’s official renaming. While airport officials say it’ll take time for signage on roadways to change, travelers should expect to see and hear the new name.

Due to his current health condition, the former senator was unable to attend the unveiling. However, his eldest son and former county commissioner, Rory Reid, appeared on his behalf. He likened his father’s emergence as a top politician in Nevada’s history to Las Vegas’ emergence as a booming tourist destination.

“So, it’s understandable that we would name this airport - the lifeblood of our community’s economy - after that man, in this place. It makes sense," Rory Reid said. "This ensures that those two narratives: that of my father, Harry Reid, and of this city, Las Vegas, will be inextricably linked.” 

Former Senator Harry Reid is the longest-serving congressman in Nevada history and was Senate Majority Leader from 2007 to 2015. Private donors raised $4.2 million to initiate the first phase of the project.

The county’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the name change in a meeting earlier this year. They cited the former namesake, Senator Pat McCarran’s reputation as a racist and anti-Semite.

Governor Sisolak says the name “McCarran” no longer represents the people of Nevada.

“Pat McCarran stood for what we’re not anymore. He didn’t stand for diversity; he didn’t stand for equal rights for everybody," Sisolak said. "He stood for racial injustice - the exact opposite of Senator Reid.”

Renaming LAS for Harry Reid is an ongoing project and the county is still working to acquire another $3 million in donations to fund phases two and three.

Lucretia Cunningham is a former contributing reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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