Financing bids to host big-ticket sporting events staged in Southern Nevada could be the biggest challenge ahead for a committee developing a report for state policymakers.
The 19-member Southern Nevada Sporting Event Committee has begun researching if and how it would form a commission to coordinate attracting future major sporting events to Las Vegas.
“It used to be having the venues to host things was the problem,” said Pat Christenson, president of Las Vegas Events, the private nonprofit organization that works with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to sponsor and coordinate special events that fill hotel rooms.
Now, with a state-of-the-art 65,000-seat indoor football stadium due to open in 2020, the bigger problem will be paying upfront costs to prepare for events like the Super Bowl.
Las Vegas Stadium Authority Chairman Steve Hill and Oakland Raiders President Marc Badain found that to be the case last year when they first applied for Las Vegas to host World Cup soccer games in 2026.
World Cup organizers indicated Las Vegas would have to invest in developing other venues to produce a successful bid and that having a new stadium, more than 150,000 hotel rooms and a major international airport nearby weren’t enough.
The committee, charged with preparing a report to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature by December, heard reports from executives from Las Vegas Events and the LVCVA about their history of attracting events to the city when it met Thursday.
Committee members also received a report from Brian Gordon of Las Vegas-based Applied Analysis about the hundreds of sports commissions and authorities that serve their communities across the United States and whether their models would serve Southern Nevada.
Las Vegas Events and the LVCVA have worked since their inception at attracting, sponsoring and expanding events like the National Finals Rodeo and the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
At the group’s next meeting, scheduled Aug. 8, members could discuss a suggestion from Peter Sadowski, executive vice president of the Vegas Golden Knights: Why not just let Las Vegas Events continue to do the work and focus on getting it better funded?
What is Las Vegas Events?
Las Vegas Events was formed in 1983 to develop a proposal to bring the National Finals Rodeo to Las Vegas from Oklahoma City.
Beginning slowly, “the greatest show on dirt” grew into a signature 10-day event in December that now attracts far more people to Las Vegas than can fit inside the Thomas & Mack Center and provides a major tourism generator in a month when the city was once dormant.
— The rodeo has had 300 consecutive sell-outs.
— There are 37 hotel venues that have viewer parties with live video feeds from the rodeo.
— When the rodeo is in town, there are 56 concerts, mostly by country and western artists.
— There are 200 spinoff events associated with the rodeo.
— The rodeo is now the template for signature events in Las Vegas.