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Jam-packed events could be ‘best weekend in the history of Las Vegas’

Mexican Independence Day weekend could amount to a historic win for the Las Vegas economy as visitors flocked to Southern Nevada for a long weekend of notable events.

Thursday kicked off festivities with the Grupo Firme concert at Allegiant Stadium. The next day, the Life is Beautiful festival began its three-day run downtown. Then, UNLV football blew out North Texas on Saturday afternoon, just ahead of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin fight card. The weekend was capped off on Sunday with the Raiders’ 2022 regular season home opener at Allegiant Stadium.

In all, well over a hundred thousand fans were expected to attend the various events this weekend. That had Steve Hill, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president and CEO, and other officials optimistic about the weekend’s potential.

Room occupancy was tracking near “functionally full” and room rates were well-above average for the weekend, Hill noted.

“There’s a lot going on in Vegas this weekend,” Hill said. “I think there’s a reasonable possibility that this weekend in Las Vegas will be the best weekend in the history of Las Vegas.”

The LVCVA didn’t have estimates on the number of visitors or the economic impact the major weekend could generate.

Since the addition of multiple professional sports teams in Las Vegas, there have been several mega-sports weekends following the pandemic. Hill doesn’t see that trend stopping anytime soon, cementing the city as the “Greatest Arena on Earth,” as the nearly 1-year old LVCVA-born slogan suggests.

“That lineup is pretty hard to beat,” Hill said. “We’ve helped coordinate and plan these ultimate sports weekends for the last number of years. We’ve had the same similar number of events, but we’ve only had the Raiders where we could have fans in the stands for a couple of years and that’s been huge. ”

Fight night

For the first time in four years, boxing superstar Alvarez took part in a major fight in Las Vegas during Mexican Independence Day weekend.

Historically the biggest fight weekends in Las Vegas each year fall on either Cinco de Mayo or Mexican Independence Day weekends.

Adding Alvarez into the mix Saturday with his rubber match win versus Golovkin took the already usually busy weekend to the next level.

“It’s about as big of marquee match up that you can get at any time of year, but when you do it on Mexican Independence Day weekend, it kind of amplifies the effect,” Hill said.

“Based on our analysis of previous events and current trends in visitation and visitor spending, we expect the impact to be significant and to reach well beyond the event itself,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst of Applied Analysis. “They couldn’t have this fight scheduled at a better time.”

Alvarez has fought on Mexican Independence Day weekend in Las Vegas three times previously — against Floyd Mayweather in 2014 and against Golovkin in 2017 and 2018 — and was glad to be back fighting again on the popular boxing weekend.

“I’m excited to fight (Mexican) Independence weekend,” Alvarez said. “I’ve had a long time of not fighting on this day … so, I’m very excited to be back on this day.”

Alvarez said he could feel the increased intensity the holiday brings with fans setting the tone during the fighter’s arrival Tuesday all the way through fight week.

“I’m excited about the fans and all the support they bring me,” Alvarez said. “It’s motivating for me.”

Brian Albarran from Arkansas made the trek to Las Vegas to take in his fourth Alvarez bout in person.

Having the big fight on Mexican Independence Day weekend upped the ante for Albarran.

“I’m excited,” he said. “Canelo (Alvarez) brought out a lot of people for his weigh-in (Friday), so you could feel it (the increased excitement) then. Now it being Mexican Independence Day and all the, as we call it, “La Razas” out here, we’re all singing and everything.”

Sunday football

Raiders fans got in the Mexican Independence Day spirit during pregame tailgating Sunday, with the popular Lot J packed with tents and set ups, including a local Banda group hyping the fans with live music.

For many it was the first time they stepped foot in the Raiders new $2 billion home since this is just the second season with fans allowed inside Allegiant Stadium and the first with no attendance restrictions.

Dan Moody from Huntsville, Alabama, has been a lifelong fan of the Silver and Black but had never attended a Raiders game in person. His birthday made it the opportune time to check that off his bucket list.

“This is amazing,” Moody said while standing under the Al Davis Memorial Torch. “I have parents that live about 80 miles north, so I come out about three or four times a year. I’ve got pictures as the stadium was being built, so it’s quite the feat. It’s overwhelming. I’ve never been to a Raiders game, so it’s a good birthday celebration.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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