Speaking at a recent Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce event, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the city knows how to put on big events, and he anticipated this year’s NFL Draft would be a success.
Road closures will affect traffic around Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard for four days. It’s going to be large.
Now, think bigger, as in the Super Bowl.
The biggest spectacle in the world is booked through 2024. But with Allegiant Stadium on schedule to open later this year, and the Raiders set to debut there next season, Las Vegas is clearly the favorite to host Super Bowl LIX.
“I expect it’s going to be a Super Bowl city,” Goodell said while touring the construction site of Allegiant Stadium. “This stadium is obviously the jewel that will be part of that. But so is the city and that is a big part of the experience that people want to enjoy when they come to the Super Bowl. They’re not just coming to a game anymore; they’re coming for days of events.”
And nobody does it better than Las Vegas, a city most NFL owners would have turned their noses up at just a few years ago.
While some might point to the success of the NHL’s Golden Knights as proof Las Vegas is ready to embrace pro sports, many others know this is a town that has become accustomed to hosting some of the biggest events based on their sports.
• Championship boxing
• NBA Summer League
• National Finals Rodeo
• NCAA Conference Basketball Tournaments.
“I don’t think there’s any city more equipped to be able to handle that,” said John Saccenti, executive director of the Las Vegas Bowl, currently the biggest football game the city hosts annually. “You have some of these Super Bowl cities that that’s the biggest event that comes through there in a long time. We do this, what seems like, every single week.
“The hotel partners know how to handle major events, the city knows how to handle major events, the folks at the convention authority and everybody associated with the convention authority knows how to handle events. So I think this city is equipped better than any city in America, to be able to host those sorts of things.”
Summer League co-founder Albert Hall said the NBA Summer League has become a part of the city’s landscape, as it’s grown into an 11-day event that packs the Thomas and Mack Center and Cox Pavilion, and he is sure Las Vegas will be prepared when it makes a bid to host its first Super Bowl.
“The city will be ready, depending on how the new stadium develops and they get the bugs worked out, which any new project needs,” Hall said. “The NFL Draft will indicate a lot of the interest for NFL fans. There’s no doubt Vegas knows how to put on a great show. The background provides so many options for business, for entertainment, for lifestyle – all in one, it’s tough to replicate.
“We’ve been able to address all the areas that are needed to execute a special event and add on the extra entertainment value that Vegas provides to put it over the top.”
Now that sports betting has become accepted by the four major sports, is legal and operating in 14 states and seven others and are set to offer sports betting, Westgate SuperBook vice president Jay Kornegay believes the Super Bowl handle would shatter records.
“We look at record amounts bet on the Super Bowl almost every single year,” said Kornegay, who has lived and worked in Las Vegas sportsbooks for 30 years. “I’m guessing the handle would probably be somewhere about 30 percent increase if it was held here. That might be low, that might be high, but that’s just my observation guess of what we’ve seen in other big events.
“I mean, sky’s the limit. I can’t imagine what type of increase in handle that we would have in the game because of all the visitors that would be coming to town to celebrate the Super Bowl.”
Kornegay said although approximately 70,000 could actually attend the game, the rippling effect it would have on the city would be tremendous — from the betting handle, to room rates, to the casino handles, to restaurants, to bars, to the nightlife.
“I think there would be records set everywhere,” the longtime bookmaker said. “It’s not just about Sunday, it’s all about the week leading up to the Super Bowl and even a couple of days beyond that.”
First things first, though, as the town must pull off the reconstruction of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard and hit a home run — ahem, score a touchdown — with this year’s Draft. Then, it’s simply a matter of making the proposal, putting in a bid, and getting Goodell’s stamp of approval. All of which appears inevitable at this point.
“It’s just a matter of working with the leadership to understand how you want to execute on that, how do you take the Super Bowl and make it bigger and better?” Goodell asked.
Easy answer. Said Clark County commissioner Lawrence Weekly: “This is Vegas, baby!”