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Kicking off 2024: Conventions, politics, Super Bowl run into Las Vegas

The convergence of a major convention, political events and the Super Bowl over 30 days in January and February will put Las Vegas on the global stage.

The CES consumer electronics trade show, which annually draws more than 4,000 media members from around the world, the Super Bowl, one of the most watched sporting events in the world, with primary elections and a Republican caucus sandwiched in between, will bring more attention to the city than ever before.

“The clear winner is going to be Vegas,” said R&R Partners principal Billy Vassiliadis, an expert in media, advertising and political consultancy. “It’s not just hosting big events, it’s the spectrum of those events.”

Vassiliadis said in the roughly 30 days that begin Jan. 9, the world will be exposed to the Las Vegas experience and whether people are interested in technology and business, sports and entertainment or politics, they’re going to see it happen from Las Vegas.

Variety of interests

“From a media platforms and channels standpoint, CES is going to get all the tech and all the business media,” Vassiliadis said. “The Super Bowl is going to get all the entertainment and sports media. The presidential caucuses and primaries are going to get all the political CNNs, MSNBCs and Foxes, etc. For a monthlong period, the news platform or entertainment platform you go on is going to be in Vegas.”

In addition to both major political parties having primary presidential preference elections on Feb. 6, Republicans will have a caucus Feb. 8, days before the National Football League kicks off its annual championship game at Allegiant Stadium Feb. 11.

While most eyes will be focused on the teams competing in Super Bowl LVIII, Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald is enthused that the party’s presidential candidates will be able to witness first hand the vibrancy of the city for a major event – and that, he said, could lead to Las Vegas someday hosting the Republican National Convention.

Candidate debate?

There’s also another chance for media exposure the month before. McDonald said his party is hoping to stage a Republican presidential candidate debate in Las Vegas prior to the GOP primary and caucus.

McDonald said he hopes to schedule a dinner featuring Republican presidential candidates on the day of the Feb. 6 primary election so that party members can meet with them prior to the Feb. 8 caucus.

The current leading Republican presidential candidates are former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence.

There’s no indication whether President Joe Biden would make an appearance in Las Vegas prior to the Democratic primary.

“Around my house, the Super Bowl is a national holiday so I’m thinking having party leadership and candidates here during the preparation for that game definitely would be a positive,” McDonald said. “They can take in the city of Las Vegas, everything we have on the Strip, downtown and all the outlying neighborhoods and then roll right into the Super Bowl.”

Super Bowl media should begin arriving around Feb. 4 or 5 in advance of the two competing teams’ arrival. While the Super Bowl experienced attendance setbacks due to COVID-19 restrictions, the media contingent covering the game pre-pandemic was more than 6,000, according to the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee.

The Super Bowl doesn’t just attract sports journalists. Entertainment reporters will be here to witness the spectacle of the Super Bowl halftime show that usually includes some of entertainment’s top performers.

Earned media

Public relations professionals often gauge a brand’s success on “earned media,” a metric that measures the influence and reach of coverage by media outlets that an organization doesn’t pay for. It’s different from economic impact and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority contracts with a third-party vendor that uses an industry-approved formula to calculate earned media value and impressions on some special events and campaigns.

The LVCVA doesn’t predict earned media, but expects to have a report on the success of Super Bowl LVIII after the event.

Some tourism experts expect the Las Vegas Super Bowl earned media to surpass the amount generated for Phoenix for this year’s Super Bowl LVII. The additional presence of political leaders of both parties that week could boost the total even higher.

Vassiliadis marveled at the transformation of the perception of Las Vegas that has occurred over the past two decades. The partnership the city has developed with the NFL has resulted in the city having its own team, the Raiders, hosting the NFL Draft, hosting the league’s all-star game, the Pro Bowl, to next year hosting the Super Bowl.

“Twenty years ago, we weren’t even allowed to buy a Super Bowl commercial for the game broadcast,” he said. “Political and government leaders didn’t want to come here because of the stigma of all that. Now, they’re flocking here.”

Vassiliadis said it couldn’t have been scripted any better.

Global coverage

“We’ll have global coverage on CES like we always do. Technology innovation and all the cool stuff of this generation will be showcased. Then, we go to the Super Bowl, one of the most watched events on the planet, and that’s become a global media event. Then, we go to politics. Like or don’t like it, rough-and-tumble, whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s in Vegas. We go from the largest tech innovation and new product unveiling show to the one of the most viewed sports shows and then to the tragicomedy that is politics. You couldn’t script that in the diversity of appeal that Vegas has.”

McDonald, who served two terms on the LVCVA board of directors, said he knows the marketing power Las Vegas and special events have brought to each other over the years and he sees that expanding even more with major sporting events.

“I’m optimistic we can incorporate the excitement of the Super Bowl with our own events,” he said.

The Republicans’ national convention wouldn’t be in Las Vegas in 2024. It’s already been designated for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, July 15-18 next summer.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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