The greatest project since Hoover Dam

 
May 2, 2011
"Other than Hoover Dam, I don't know of any project that has touched the community as broadly and deeply as this one will," Smith Center Chairman Don Snyder said.

Don Snyder is more than a pillar of the community in Las Vegas. Interviewing him about the Smith Center for the Performing Arts under construction in downtown Las Vegas, he strikes us as being, well, almost a human tape recorder.

Off the top of his head, Snyder remembers key dates and even days of the week for important events years ago — milestones in the drive to raise the nearly $500 million now in hand for the landmark center opening next year.

Listening to him it's clear that this former bank CEO and casino company president is more than a numbers guy—he's a marketing guy.

VEGAS INC talked with Snyder at UNLV where he's dean of the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration. Snyder is friendly, but all business during our talk. Besides his Smith Center duties, where he's been volunteer chairman of the board for more than a decade, Snyder has a full schedule of meetings after ours involving university work.

During our interview, Snyder offered the inside story of winning approval of government and private-sector funding for the Smith Center. A key to success was the business plan calling for all the construction money to be in place before work started and having an operating endowment in place.

He recalled with particular fondness his bold request for $50 million from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, named for the late owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other newspapers in the Donrey Media Group chain.

The foundation was launched with $804 million from Reynolds' fortune after his death. Synder didn't just get $50 million—the foundation came up with $150 million. That's why the performing arts center is named for Reynolds Foundation Chairman and longtime Donrey Media executive Fred W. Smith and his late wife Mary.

Read the Interview


Smith Center board chairman: The greatest project since Hoover Dam
By Steve Green - Vegas Inc