As Las Vegas continues to build its reputation as a sports and entertainment capital, UNLV and Syracuse University announced they are partnering to bring a sports and entertainment convention to the city next year.
The convention will be called SEI-Con and will bring businesses involved in the sports, entertainment and innovation industry together for a three-day convention in July 2024. The convention will be hosted co-hosted by UNLV’s Sports Innovation program and Syracuse’s Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics.
UNLV President Keith Whitfield said at a Friday news conference the convention will use the momentum of major sports leagues being in Las Vegas and major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and Formula One Grand Prix coming to the city in the next year to grow the sports and entertainment programs offered by both universities.
“This conference, for the first time, will pair academic and industry innovators in areas so important to the growth of our economy here locally, in Vegas and beyond,” Whitfield said.
The convention is scheduled for July 16-18 at Virgin Hotels.
It’s estimated that the inaugural SEI-Con will host roughly 250 companies and 8,000 attendees, according to Zachary Miles, the senior associate vice president for economic development at UNLV. SEI-Con will offer the typical features of a convention with daily keynote speakers, exhibitor booths, seminars and a wrap party, but it will also feature innovation labs to highlight work done by students.
The convention should occur annually in Las Vegas as the city is a great place to connect with businesses in the sports and entertainment industry, according to Michael Veley, the department chair and director of Syracuse’s department of sports management.
“There’s an entrepreneurial spirit that exists at UNLV and epitomizes the evolution in Las Vegas as a sports and entertainment mecca,” Veley said. “That’s why SEI-Con needs to come to Las Vegas.”
The convention will focus on the future of sports and entertainment which will be driven by the increased use of analytics and technology, he said.
“In partnering with UNLV and being out here in Las Vegas when we talk about the impact of legalized sports wagering, and what that is going to do to change this industry is important for us,” Veley said. “E-commerce, sports science, digitization of sports and augmented virtual reality will change how we as fans see sports in the future. We want to be a part of that.”
UNLV hosting SEI-Con can accomplish many things for the university including finding ways to license university-owned technology and intellectual property, build partnerships with companies and help find career opportunities for students, according to Miles.
“We want UNLV to be close to companies in the sports and entertainment industry to learn what they need and what the university can do to partner and help them,” Miles told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
While 2024 will be the first year for SEI-Con, it won’t be a huge convention, but there are high hopes for it to grow into something big, Tina Quigley, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, said.
“I choose to believe that SEI-Con is going to help redefine who we are,” she said. “I have no doubt that inevitably, this event is going to start small, but in 20 years, it will be something much like a (CES).”
Having this convention in Las Vegas can also make it easier for UNLV’s travel budget to meet with major businesses and big-name figures in the sports and entertainment industry, according to Miles.
“We can make 100 trips across the country to talk with 100 companies, or they can all come here once a year with this event,” he said.