What’s in a name? According to Clark County Commissioners in Las Vegas, a lot. Last week, the government organization unanimously voted to change the name of McCarran International Airport (LAS) to Harry Reid International Airport, in honor of retired Nevada Sen. Harry M. Reid, in a rebranding move estimated to cost around $2 million, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The change comes at an important time in the political and social climate. The airport’s current namesake, former Sen. Patrick McCarran, who served Nevada from 1933 until 1954, was given the honor because of his contributions to the aviation industry. However, he has also been criticized for anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic views.
“The name doesn’t represent the diversity of our community,” stated Clark County Commissioner Richard “Tick” Segerblom, in his proposal.
Reid, who served Nevada in the U.S. Senate for 30 years until he retired in 2017, has received praise for helping to pass an $800 billion economic stimulus package and for his work securing equal pay for female workers under the Obama administration. He was Majority Leader in the Senate from 2007 to 2015.
MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle submitted a statement of support for the name change, saying McCarran’s name should not be the first to greet visitors arriving in Las Vegas, reports The Washington Post.
It is with humility that I express my appreciation for the recognition today. I would like to express my deep gratitude to Commissioner Segerblom, the entire Clark County Commission, and the many others who have played a part in this renaming.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) February 16, 2021
In the wake of the BLM movement, many brands, bands and sports teams have changed names in order to remove themselves from prejudiced history or connotations, including Aunt Jemima syrup (now: Pearl Milling Co.), the Dixie Chicks (now: The Chicks) and NFL’s Washington Redskins (currently: The Washington Football Team).
In California, John Wayne Airport is also receiving a push for a name change because of racist history in the actor’s past, according to USA Today.
McCarran International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the country, will keep its name until the FAA processes the change, which could take several months.