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Fans traveling to Las Vegas for Super Bowl but not actually going to game

Updated February 9, 2024 - 6:49 pm

Because she literally had a hand in its creation, Ashley Lamb will be cheering for the ball during this Super Bowl.

Lamb, 36, works at the Wilson Football Factory in Ada, Ohio, where she sews the footballs that are made for the NFL, including the balls that will be used in Sunday’s game at Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium.

In total, 228 footballs were made for Super Bowl 58, said Wilson Football Factory plant manager Andy Wentling, with 114 balls each going to the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. Broken down, that’s six balls designated for the kickers, another 54 balls for practices, and 54 balls for the game.

“I have to root for the ball,” said Lamb, who has worked at the Wilson plant for about 12 years.

Lamb was part of the Wilson ball-making display at the NFL’s Super Bowl Experience, which runs through Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Described by the NFL as its “football theme park,” the fan-friendly event combines displays of pro football past and present with interactive games, autograph signing sessions and more.

While tickets were $25 on Wednesday, admission was $50 on Thursday and Friday and will also be $50 on Saturday. Kids 12 and under get in free.

On Wednesday, San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice appeared on a stage where he showed off the Vince Lombardi Trophy to loud cheers of “Jerry!, Jerry!” from the many 49ers fans who are in Las Vegas this week.

Many fans at the event touched on a similar theme: that the fan events happening in the lead-up to Sunday are a way to experience the atmosphere of the Super Bowl without having to pay thousands for game tickets.

Many of them have even traveled to Las Vegas specifically for that Super Bowl atmosphere. But they aren’t actually going to the big game.

Ticket prices are astronomical. As of Friday afternoon, the price for a single ticket for the Super Bowl was over $6,900, according to Ticketmaster’s website. The price was slightly lower for two tickets, with each costing $6,500.

The best available seats? Two tickets for $48,000 each, according to Ticketmaster’s website on Friday. Or a single ticket for over $27,000.

‘It’s kind of ridiculous’

Clad in a Deebo Samuel 49ers jersey, Sophia Angel, 20, of San Francisco, said she traveled to Las Vegas on Wednesday and will be here until Monday. She won’t be going to the game.

“I just feel like it’s kind of ridiculous,” Angel said of ticket prices. Angel said regular people have been priced out of the Super Bowl, and the event now seems “a lot more corporate than anything else.”

Still, she’s been enjoying events in Las Vegas during Super Bowl week, like the Super Bowl Experience.

“It’s an awesome experience,” Angel said. “We don’t have the money to go into the game, but we still have this.”

Angel is one of 330,000 incoming visitors who were expected in Las Vegas over the Super Bowl week, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which cited numbers from Las Vegas data firm Applied Analysis. The economic impact is projected to be more than $600 million.

Although the LVCVA doesn’t have data on how many of those projected visitors would be going to the game, it quickly became evident at the Super Bowl Experience that many football fans traveled to Vegas for the Super Bowl but had no intention of going to the game.

Peggy and Craig Noble, who live in northwest Arkansas, are 38-year Kansas City Chiefs season ticket holders. Asked if they will be are going to the game on Sunday, Craig Noble said, “Unfortunately, we’re not.”

Instead, the couple in recent years has traveled to the city where the Super Bowl is taking place to immerse themselves in everything surrounding the game, like they’ve done this past week in Las Vegas.

“We’ve never been to a (Super Bowl),” Craig Noble said, adding that in recent years they’ve also traveled to Phoenix and Miami. “We just come to explore the areas and get the experience. It’s great.”

Peggy Noble said they’ve also been hearing from some local Raiders fans while in Vegas.

“We’ve had Raiders fans already tell us today that they’re coming for us next year,” she said.

‘There’s a lot to do’

Other football fans described the overall vibes in Las Vegas this week.

Miguel Castellanos, 41, is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and podcaster known as “Super Cowboy.”

“It’s pretty crazy,” Castellanos said. “You know, to have a Super Bowl here for the first time, they’ve done it right. There’s a lot to do.”

Maxie Jayme, a Las Vegas resident who is originally from San Francisco, noted the “wild” atmosphere: “It feels really big,” she said.

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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