weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Rugby weekend just what Las Vegas needs

Laugh if you will, but a two-day rugby tournament might have the same effect on Las Vegas tourism as the high profile 2007 NBA All-Star Game.

I know what you’re thinking. There is no evidence that D-List celebrity rugby fans will “make it rain” inside Las Vegas strip clubs.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority officials believe USA Sevens will do what special events are intended to do: draw thousands of free-spending visitors and televise Las Vegas images worldwide.

The event takes place Feb. 13-14 at Sam Boyd Stadium and will attract teams and fans from 16 countries.

Convention authority Chief Executive Officer Rossi Ralenkotter said first-time visitors exposed to Las Vegas are a side benefit from a special event.

“Many of these visitors wouldn’t have come here if not for the event,” Ralenkotter said.

Special events help Las Vegas grow its image and fill hotel rooms, he said.

Financial consultant Applied Analysis studied special events and their effect on tourism.

In fiscal year 2008, the convention authority sponsored 51 major events that covered 220 days at a cost of more than $13.8 million. Applied Analysis surveyed information from 36 events, which totaled $12.2 million in spending.

The result? Direct expenditures by out-of-town visitors for those events were estimated at more $222.3 million (not including gambling expenses). In other words, the return on investment was $18 for every $1 the convention authority spent in sponsorship.

“The study showed how important citywide events are to our marketing plans,” Ralenkotter said.

USA Sevens rugby fits the mold: a large contingent of visitors and television coverage broadcasting Las Vegas’ backdrop internationally.

The 2010 special event calendar is already filled. The Miss America Pageant is this month, followed by the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition launch in February. NASCAR Weekend returns in February. The West Coast Conference and Mountain West Conference basketball tournaments and Big League Weekend are in March.

Drag races, music awards, professional bull riders and the National Hockey League awards show round out the first six months.

Applied Analysis principal Jeremy Aguero said the cost of special events is well worth the effort.

“They are remarkably important, based on the number of people that come here, how much is spent by the visitor and how lucrative they are to the community,” Aguero said.

Howard Stutz’s Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. E-mail him at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or call 702-477-3871. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/stutz.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.