Updated February 11, 2024 - 11:24 pm
Vegas nailed it.
That’s the consensus emerging about Las Vegas’ historic first Super Bowl, as years of buildup and a week of buzz-filled events, parties and Taylor Swift speculation were capped by a thriller of a game that ended with the Kansas City Chiefs beating the San Francisco 49ers in overtime.
“This one has lived up to all the hype,” CBS play-by-play announcer Jim Nantz said at the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter.
“An epic Super Bowl for an epic season,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said as he presented the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Chiefs owner Clark Hunt after the game.
Amid the jubilation, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce could be heard screaming “Viva Las Vegas!”
‘All expectations were exceeded’
With the long-awaited and highly anticipated nature of the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Las Vegas Host Committee CEO Sam Joffray said the big game lived up to the hype not only placed on the city by others, but also by the host committee itself.
“While we still have one more day to go until we officially turn the hosting responsibilities over to New Orleans, we think it’s safe to say that all expectations were exceeded, including our own,” Joffray said. “Vegas showed up, the NFL showed up, Usher definitely showed up, and both teams obviously showed up, as demonstrated by the overtime thriller. Oh, yeah, even Taylor finally showed up.”
Inside Allegiant Stadium during the game, football fans who were among the announced crowd of 61,629 echoed a similar sentiment. And it was just the second time ever that a Super Bowl has gone into overtime.
Raiders fan Alex Cervantes, 34, of San Jose, California, summed up the first Las Vegas Super Bowl as a winner, saying it was better than others she’s attended.
“I’ve been to Miami, L.A., and Arizona,” said Cervantes, who was wearing a Raiders jersey. “This has been the best experience ever.”
‘It’s like a dream world’
Others used words like epic and electric to describe the atmosphere.
The energy was so turned up, it was hard to believe it was real, they said.
“It’s like a dream world,” said Casey Wright, 41, of Kansas City, who was at the game to cheer for the Chiefs. “I’m pinching myself.”
Kav Singh, 43, of San Francisco was in the stadium to watch his 49ers.
“It’s not real yet,” Singh said before kickoff.
Singh paid $7,500 for his ticket. Asked if it was worth it, he laughed.
“I don’t know! If the Niners win, it will be,” Singh said.
“Fantastic” is how Raiders fan and local resident Pierre Gendebien, 50, described the atmosphere inside Allegiant, as hundreds of fans poured through the 100 level.
Gendebien, who has been to several Super Bowls, said the first Las Vegas Super Bowl will be his favorite because it’s in his hometown.
“Epic,” said Niki Switzer of Kansas City.
“Electric,” said her husband, Brian Switzer. Both were wearing long, red-and-orange furry coats to show support for their Chiefs.
Before the game started, Switzer joked that the Chiefs would blow out the 49ers 72-1. He said he would put money on that prediction and asked if there was a gambling area he could go to.
‘Here for the fun’
After the game started, the roar of the crowd — which was a sea of red for both teams — was deafening.
When San Francisco was up 10-3, Usher began his Super Bowl Halftime Show on the field before taking the stage that was quickly set up over the 50-yard-line, then taken down just as quickly.
“It was phenomenal,” said Shonda Pitts, 44, of Kansas City, as the third quarter was being played. “Usher was amazing.”
Aaron Peterson from Minneapolis and his buddy Michael Haffen from Pennsylvania weren’t particularly rooting for one team or another, they were just looking for a memorable time.
“We’re just here for the fun,” Peterson said. “It was a unique opportunity, so I wanted to get out here and experience it.”
The storylines with seasoned Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes taking on Brock Purdy, the second-year QB who was picked dead last in the 2022 NFL draft, were most appealing to Peterson.
The pair of buddies bought their tickets for face value — $950 each — thanks to having a connection with one of the teams they declined to name.
That’s a major deal compared with the average price fans were paying on the secondary ticket market.
The cheapest ticket on no-fee ticket site TickPick on Sunday morning was $7,855, with the 900 tickets available then averaging $9,648. Fifteen minutes before kickoff there were just 67 tickets left for sale, with the cheapest being $8,680 and the average price noted to be $10,726.
Meanwhile, the Clark County Fire Department went above and beyond to staff the Super Bowl compared with a regular season NFL game.
“This is our Super Bowl. We’re staffed exponentially more,” Fire Chief John Steinbeck said Sunday from the 300 level of Allegiant Stadium. “Outside, inside, command and all the connecting events, it’s a lot more than a regular game.”
The Super Bowl compares more in scale to the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, Steinbeck said. The only difference is the Grand Prix had a larger footprint in comparison with the stadium campus, and fire crews weren’t tasked with driver rescues.
The Super Bowl was a designated SEAR 1 event by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. That not only adds the highest level of security for those attending the game, it adds new layers to the county’s operational plan.
“It gives us more resources and an expanded command vessel,” Steinbeck said. “It also lets us know the serious nature of this event. The SEAR 1 rating is something that we take very seriously.”
About 90 minutes from the game kicking off, Steinbeck said everything had been relatively smooth.
“We’ve had the localized incidents that we’d expect, and we have the resources to take care of them,” Steinbeck said. “Other than that, it’s a great Las Vegas Super Bowl.”
‘Go Taylor’s Boyfriend’
Outside the stadium before the game started, Caroline Funkhouser, 33, and Daniel Wilson-Hill, 30, both of North Carolina, wore clothing that paid homage to that other star of the game: Taylor Swift.
Wearing hoodies emblazoned with the words “Go Taylor’s Boyfriend,” Funkhouser and Wilson-Hill, who are both Carolina Panthers fans, said they support strong women like Swift, even though they wouldn’t go as far as to call themselves Swifties.
“I was like, let’s just be more ridiculous,” Wilson-Hill said, adding that the hoodies were more ironic than anything else.
Funkhouser said she paid $16,000 for two tickets, which would make this Super Bowl her first and last, she said. She just wanted to go to one in her lifetime.
David Giang, 45, of San Francisco echoed what many fans said about being at the Super Bowl: “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Cervantes said Super Bowl 58 was a success because of how well-organized it was, and because Las Vegas had the infrastructure in place to make it a good time. She also enjoyed Usher’s halftime show, especially when he took off his shirt, she said with a laugh.
“I hate both teams — I’m a Raiders fan,” Cervantes said, adding that she paid $3,000 for her ticket. “But this makes me want to go to another Super Bowl.”
She said she was thinking about going to New Orleans for the next Super Bowl, which will be played on Feb. 9, 2025.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.