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Sunday,  July 14, 2024 3:06 AM 

Big game, big crowds, big profits: Super Bowl cements Las Vegas’ sports hub status

Big game, big crowds, big profits: Super Bowl cements Las Vegas’ sports hub status
A Super Bowl ad spotted on the Las Vegas strip. (Shutterstock/Audio und werbung)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Super Bowl 58 is in the books as the Kansas City Chiefs won out over the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night (Feb. 11), becoming the first repeat Super Bowl champs in 19 years.

With the action unfolding inside Las VegasAllegiant Stadium, Kansas City won its third title in five years, while pop star Taylor Swift, a focal point this year, watched her boyfriend, Travis Kelce (tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs) from a suite above.

Swift wasn’t the only bold-faced name to attend the annual championship game. This year, Post Malone sang "America the Beautiful," Reba McEntire performed the national anthem and R&B star Usher dazzled the crowd at halftime alongside star guests Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Jermaine Dupri, Lil Jon and Ludacris.

It was a big game with big crowds...and big profits.

According to reports leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, the mega event, said to be Vegas’ biggest ever, was estimated to draw some 330,000 people to Sin City and pump as much as $700 million (USD) into the economy.

The economics of a Super Bowl game is eye-popping, and for a tourism-reliant community like Las Vegas, the opportunities to cash in appeared to be endless, from street vendors selling t-shirts for as high as $40 USD to resale brokers reportedly earning $30,000 a ticket for the best remaining seats.

Local businesses benefited from the NFL’s Business Connect program, which helps business owners compete for Super Bowl vendor contracts.

The biggest winners on Super Bowl Sunday, as Rolling Stone reported, were likely the Las Vegas sports books, as legal bookmakers were expected to handle a record $1.5 billion USD in wagers, according to the American Gaming Association.

Illegal gambling on the game was also said to exceed $23 billion USD.

Vegas' transformed image

On Friday (Feb. 9), Vegas hotels, charging higher-than-usual rates, quickly filled up with sports fans and families of all ages, according to various reports. 

It was also a big weekend for glamourous aircraft, with some 1,000 private jets arriving at Las Vegas airports. 

According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, some 500,000 more people were expected to travel to Vegas for Super Bowl 58 than any previous Super Bowl weekend, USA Today reported.

Las Vegas, in recent years, has cemented its status as a leading sports hub, transforming its image beyond its legacy as a gambling mecca.

Last year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix and the National Finals Rodeo were just two large-scale events that bridged the iconic Nevada city with professional sports.

Las Vegas. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

Adding to this are new hotels with sports-heavy programming, such as Circa Resort & Casino, an adults-only resort in the city’s Freemont Street neighbourhood.

The glitzy hotel, which opened in 2020, is home to the largest sportsbook in the world and “Stadium Swim,” which has six pools, swim-up bars and a 40-foot HD screen, which can broadcast multiple sports games, at once.

At the same time, Las Vegas continues to grow tourism-driven projects, which includes the $2 billion Sphere, which opened last September.

The interactive spherical structure, standing at over 360 ft. tall, is a venue that can hold up to 18,000 people for music and sporting events.

Stadium Swim at Circa Resort & Casino. (Pax Global Media/file photo)

This year’s Super Bowl, meanwhile, brought new experiences to the Vegas strip. Host cities don’t just host the game, they curate experiences.

From Feb. 7-10, there was the NFL-run Super Bowl Experience at Mandalay Bay South Convention Centre, which featured all sorts of fan-oriented attractions, from football activities to autograph sessions with current and former players.

For years, Las Vegas was somewhat of a “pro-sports pariah,” as the New York Times points out, as professional leagues avoided their association with America’s gambling capital.

With Super Bowl fever riding high in Las Vegas, it’s safe to say that times have changed.

New Orleans is next

As the glitz and glamour of Super Bowl 58 settles, next year’s host city, New Orleans, is already ramping up its football campaign.

In a news release Monday morning (Feb. 12), New Orleans & Company shared that Super Bowl LIX will take place on Feb. 9, 2025, marking the 11th time the event has been held at the Caesars Superdome (a tie with Miami for hosting the most Super Bowls ever).

“This milestone is not just a number, but a testament to New Orleans’ undeniable status as a city uniquely Built To Host,” the destination marketing organization wrote.

In 2013, Super Bowl XLVII brought an estimated $480 million USD in economic impact to the state of Louisiana, the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas.

Now, 12 years later, the city anticipates that number to be well in excess of $500 million USD.

Expect a party. The 2025 Super Bowl will unfold early in the city’s Carnival season. Mardi Gras runs from Jan. 6 until Fat Tuesday, which next year falls on March 4, 2025.

“What sets New Orleans apart is its walkability, allowing attendees to stroll through the lively streets, soak in the soulful rhythms of jazz, and make their commute to the game quite simple,” said New Orleans & Company. “With the Caesars Superdome celebrating its 50th anniversary, it’s even more spectacular and accessible.”

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