Few cities have suffered the Great Recession's wrath like Las Vegas. Its housing market is barely breathing. At 14.2 percent, its unemployment rate makes other major U.S. cities look good. Even the megaresorts on the Strip, once reliable cash cows, have posted a two-year loss of $6 billion. That's why the return of Canadian pop-star Celine Dion, who personifies booming Las Vegas (her multi-year run that ended in 2007 grossed $400 million), is creating such an optimistic buzz. Caesars Palace has signed Dion through 2014, promising her a reported $100 million to perform 70 times a year. Ticket sales have been brisk, at $55 to $250 a seat, but can Dion really salvage an entire city? (Watch a local report about Dion's gig)
It could make a difference: Perhaps it's a coincidence that Dion's last mega-successful run came during the boom times, says Anthony Curtis, president of a tourist-focused website, as quoted by USA Today. But if Dion's fan-base — middle-class men and women who are not hardcore gamblers — returns to Las Vegas, it could "help make up for the crowds we’ve lost since the economy went bad."
"Can a singular 'Celine' revive Las Vegas?"
Don't get your hopes up: The unemployment rate in Las Vegas is a "Libya-like 26 percent" if you factor in those who've had their hours reduced or have given up looking for work, say Tony Dokoupil and Ramin Setoodeh at Newsweek. Things can't get much worse, and that "helps explain why Celine has been cast as a savior as much as a star." She's being called a one-woman stimulus bill, projected to generate thousands of jobs. But expecting one person to turn around a "sluggish" $18 billion economy is unrealistic.
"Can Celine Dion save Las Vegas?"
Hey, it's a start: Resurrecting Vegas is "a lot of weight to place on one diva’s bony shoulders," says Joe Brown at Las Vegas Weekly. And yet, the one million tickets Dion is likely to sell over three years "has already meant the addition of hundreds of jobs, including an orchestra of 30-plus union musicians and singers." You can't exactly blame the town's beaten-down denizens for hoping that Dion can usher in a new golden age. It would be an age in which "the vanished multitudes will return to Las Vegas, the waters of Lake Mead will be replenished, and a new Dion-ysian era of peace and plenty will begin."
"Celine Dion rises again!"