Promoters of this Saturday's Rediscover Downtown event are expecting a bigger crowd than they initially anticipated, and that's not a good thing, according to the two daily newspapers. Between 7,000 and 11,000 members of the Culinary Union could flood the area on the same day that shops and restaurants are specifically courting local customers, according to the Las Vegas Sun. Of course, the projected size of the protest is up for debate. The Review-Journal reported that only seven people had confirmed their attendance on Facebook. The article did not mention the number of maybes.
Whatever the size of the crowd, the takeaway is this: in order to rediscover downtown, you might have to cross a picket line or two. The Sun reports that protests are planned at the El Cortez, 4 Queens, the D, Golden Nugget, Fremont, Golden Gate, Binions, Las Vegas Club and Main Street Station. So if you want to claim the day's special at El Cortez (two drinks for the price of one!), be prepared to encounter some activists.
Now, you could look at this as an effort to undermine the downtown business community. Or you could see it as a savvy way to raise awareness. But either way, I don't think novice downtown visitors will be any more worried about protesters than they are about crime or homeless people or other examples of urban grit. Nothing says "vibrant urban core" like a good old-fashioned labor dispute. Whatever your position on organized labor, the timing of their protests almost certainly guarantees that weekend visitors to downtown Las Vegas will rediscover more than event planners could have hoped. And, hey, maybe they'll even find a great new restaurant or watering hole while learning about the Culinary conflict.