Riverside Resort’s newest billboard — a modern LED sign at the north end of the Arizona-side Riverside parking lot near the Laughlin Bridge — also represents the successful long-term partnership between Don Laughlin and Bullhead City.
“Don Laughlin paid for the entire sign and the half-acre of land it sits on is a gift to the city,” said Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter. “Getting our message out to the 35,000 people a day who go by is a big thing for the city.”
Laughlin spent $800,000 on the half-acre parcel and nearly $1.5 million on the entire project.
“We make it here, we try to spend it here,” Laughlin said. “It doesn’t do any good just laying in the bank.”
The city created a slide thanking Laughlin that ran continuously for 30 minutes Thursday afternoon.
“I think we’re getting a good deal today because we’re getting more than eight seconds,” Cotter said.
“We’ll keep track of that,” Laughlin replied.
Laughlin’s donation joins others given to the city since his 1964 purchase of the original eight-room riverfront motel in Southern Nevada, including the Laughlin Bridge and 433 acres housing the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport and its drainage system. Laughlin also helped finance the expansion of the airport, and recently donated to the city a large ranch located near Union Pass.
“A lot of people don’t realize all he has given to the city,” said Bullhead City Mayor Tom Brady. “Don Laughlin has been a tremendous benefactor to this community for the past 53 years and we can’t thank him enough for all that he has done. This is one more example of the partnership that we have with him. The benefit is to the entire community.”
“I’m happy to be able to do it,” Laughlin said. “Without public support, we’d be nothing.”
In a 30-year agreement, the city receives eight seconds per minute on each side of the billboard.
“We get to give out community messages such as the thank you to Mr. Laughlin,” Cotter said. “Typically it’s things like Farmers Markets and ‘welcome to’ and police campaigns like bike safety and other things that we would be putting on.”
For now, the only messages on the sign will be from Riverside Resort and Bullhead City.
“If in the future ads are sold outside of the Riverside, if a corporate sponsor wanted to buy space on that, we would get 25 percent of those revenues,” Cotter said.
Laughlin said the Riverside Resort currently is not soliciting outside advertising for the billboard.
“I’m proud of the sign,” he said.
As with the recent LED signs installed by Lamar, city code requires for every billboard that goes up, one must come down, Cotter said.
“Down by River Queen Restaurant Motel near the corner by First Street there’s a white and red V-shaped billboard that says Riverside,” Cotter said. “That’s the one that is coming down.”
Another result of Laughlin’s donation is an additional opportunity for the city, Brady said.
“One of the other things that we’re trying to do is get the land, which is state-owned, from (the west side of) the parking lot down to the river,” Brady said. “Now we have access. If we could get the land and we could actually put a road down there, we want to create more park.”
The city is working to get the slightly less than 20-acre beachfront free of charge.
“We’ve already made overtures to the state land department,” Brady said.