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Las Vegas’ Super Bowl will be an entertainment extravaganza

Updated February 3, 2024 - 8:37 am

Super Bowl 58 — the first to be held in Las Vegas — is more than just a championship football game.

It will be an entertainment extravaganza, a centerpiece for championing public service, an opportunity for businesses to make money — and finally a game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers that will attract millions worldwide.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which jump-started the formation of the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee, couldn’t be happier with how preparations have gone and with the matchup on the field.

“There’s a lot of star power between the Chiefs and the 49ers,” Hill said minutes after San Francisco punched its ticket to the game. “The Chiefs have a little extra star power right now because Taylor Swift brings a little extra spotlight to Las Vegas.”

Ah, Taylor Swift. Lots of attention has been placed on the pop megastar because of her romance with Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and the fact that she’s performing a concert in Tokyo the Saturday night before the game. Offshore betting sites have posted odds on whether she will make it to Las Vegas for the game.

Swift impact

Even though locals and fans attending the game may not catch a glimpse of Swift, studies indicate her presence at Super Bowl 58 could increase television viewership and Las Vegas will catch ripples of the wave.

A study by LendingTree said 75 percent of Americans plan to watch the Super Bowl this year and 24 percent of Gen Zers and 20 percent of millennials have an increased interest in football because of Swift’s influence. An estimated 31 percent of the Gen Z generation said they would root for the Chiefs because of Swift.

Poynter reported it’s already been proven that Swift’s attendance at games has lifted television ratings. When she attended a Sunday night game in October, the game on NBC drew 27 million viewers — the most for a Sunday game since last season’s Super Bowl. At the time, viewership among teen girls in particular jumped 53 percent for “Sunday Night Football.” In addition, ratings among women ages 18-24 went up 24 percent, while viewership for women over the age of 35 increased 34 percent, according to Poynter.

Because the game is in Las Vegas, the city will catch some of that love.

The fact that so many care about Swift’s itinerary spotlights how much entertainment and sports have converged for Las Vegas. After it was determined the Chiefs would be in the game, Google Trends searches spiked with inquiries about flying between Tokyo and Las Vegas, the time difference between the cities and the speed of Swift’s Dassault Falcon 900 private jet.

Entertainment is definitely a hook for the Las Vegas game as well as celebrity appearances in and around the city in the days leading up to the game.

All genres covered

A-list performers will be all over the city this week, from performers in ongoing residencies to one-off shows planned at dozens of parties scheduled up and down the resort corridor.

Virtually every musical genre is covered to satisfy the eclectic tastes of the estimated 330,000 fans expected to be in the city spending between $600 million to $800 million, according to local economists’ estimates.

There’s Usher, Reba McEntire, Post Malone and Andra Day at the stadium on Sunday. At various venues and dates around town, fans can hear Bruno Mars, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Luke Combs, The Chainsmokers, Wu-Tang Clan, Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold. Comics Tom Segura, Bert Kreischer, Deon Cole, Sebastian Maniscalco, Earthquake, D.L. Hughley, Desi Banks and Aida Rodriguez also have scheduled events.

At other parties, there will be appearances by DJs and one-namers: Lil Wayne, Diplo, Alesso, Zedd, Fat Joe, Mustard, Rick Ross, Chris Brown, Meek Mill, Lil Baby, T-Pain, Illenium, Kaskade, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Nelly, Tyga, DJ Pauly D, Kygo, Marshmello, Afrojack, DJ Irie, 21 Savage, 50 Cent and DJ Diesel — who also is sports personality Shaquille O’Neal.

Many athletes and Super Bowl alumni are on tap to make appearances across town with one of the biggest public gatherings at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

The Super Bowl Experience will take place Wednesday through Friday from 3-10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and admission is $25 on Wednesday and $50 on subsequent days, with children 12 and under free every day. The event will enable fans to collect autographs from current and retired NFL players, participate in several activities and see the Lombardi Trophy and other football memorabilia.

Former Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, known for his flamboyant endzone celebrations when he played, connected with Grammy Award nominee Tobe Nwigwe produced a music video that was the basis of a promotion for Las Vegas encouraging excessive celebrations. The campaign boosted by the LVCVA sought fan and visitor support for excessive celebration with a Change.org petition.

Another big public event is Super Bowl Opening Night, at Allegiant Stadium, the first public appearance of players and coaches for the game. Tickets can be bought online for $30 with the doors opening at 3 p.m., and the program beginning at 5. Fans can watch from the stands as hundreds of media members interview players and coaches.

Other celebrities of a different background are also making appearances this week — celebrity chefs. Dozens of food-related events are scheduled citywide.

And some of the celebrities have more than two legs. The Budweiser Clydesdales, the famous team of horses made famous in Super Bowl Budweiser commercials, will make appearances across the city Tuesday through game day.

Big business

While the Las Vegas Super Bowl celebration may sound like all fun and games, the event also is boosting business and spotlighting charitable causes across the valley.

More than 200 companies participated in a yearlong program designed to bring Super Bowl-related contract, professional development and networking opportunities to local diverse businesses in Southern Nevada. Workshops helped women-, minority-, LGBTQ+- and veteran-owned companies bid for Super Bowl 2024 contracts and jobs ranging from catering and transportation to decor, staging and set construction.

Traditional gaming and tourism businesses are expected to flourish.

Hotel room prices haven’t wavered much over the past few weeks with some Strip rates coming down and downtown Las Vegas and off-Strip properties going up to take advantage of demand.

As of Thursday, hotel rates average $403.09 a night at 161 properties with the Strip average being $680.38 at 37 resorts, $309.53 at 15 downtown locations and $311.94 at 109 locations. Some hotels have joined the Hotels.com listings used for the survey while some have sold out and are off the market.

Because hotel rates are maintaining their value and tickets to the game are the highest in history, it’s expected that visitors will be bringing money — gobs of it.

The least expensive game ticket on the secondary market is running between $8,000 and $10,000.

“This is by far the most expensive (Super Bowl on record),” said Matt Ferrel, vice president-head of growth at TickPick. “When you look at 2021, when it was at 33 percent capacity because of COVID, you see an average ticket price around a little over $7,000, and we’re sitting at a little over $10,000 this year.”

But some visitors to Las Vegas will be able to stay for free for a night if they arrive in a recreational vehicle, trailer or camper van, thanks to the Harvest Hosts program, a network of small and local businesses that invite campers to park at their locations. Owners of RVs can park for free one night at the parking lots of Southern Nevada’s Revere Golf Club or Legacy G0lf Club. The one stipulation: They have to buy something at the clubs, whether it’s a round of golf or a meal at a clubhouse eatery. Purchases are on the honor system and Harvest Host Chief Marketing Officer Bill Zhang said RVers must have self-contained units since hosts have no electrical or sewage hookups.

Sports wagering

The Super Bowl also is expected to be one of the biggest gambling days of the year, with a debate over whether the state’s 179 sportsbooks will surpass the record handle of $179.8 million from 2022’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals, or last year’s $153.2 million in bets on the game between the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last year, books won $11.3 million on the game, a hold of 7.4 percent.

As usual, the biggest sportsbooks in the state are counting on bettors wagering heavily on popular Super Bowl proposition bets that feature wagers on everything from who scores the first touchdown to whether heads or tails will come up on the opening coin toss.

Some analysts believe the 2024 game could produce record wagering.

“The fact that the Super Bowl is in Vegas will take what is already a busy Sunday for the city and make it even busier and bigger and better,” said Josh Swissman, founding partner and managing director Las Vegas-based GMA Consulting.

He reasons that because most of the people coming to Las Vegas won’t be attending the game, they’ll see it at other places – casino watch parties, where betting kiosks are usually set up, in sportsbooks and at bars that also have bartop slot machines.

Amanda Belarmino, an assistant professor at UNLV’s William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, isn’t as certain.

“I will be interested to see what happens in terms of gaming win,” she said. “We will have more media than normal and other visitors not coming to gamble, so it may or may not be a record win for the city. It will be particularly interesting to see how the off-Strip hotels and restaurants do. I think downtown will have a record weekend, and I think we may see more trickle into other parts of the city than we did for (Formula One)”

Brendan Bussman, an analyst with Las Vegas-based B Global, said the growth of sports wagering nationwide and the convergence of sports bettors to the biggest game of the year sounds like a formula for an all-time-high handle.

Bussmann also expects Las Vegas to host more Super Bowl games because fans will discover what Southern Nevadans already know — that having all the amenities you could want in close proximity to the airport, hotels and the stadium will make the Las Vegas Super Bowl the most appealing destination in the game’s history.

And he expects things will be even better in the future with infrastructure improvements coming online — think more new resorts, the Interstate 15 highway improvements and the underground transit system being built by The Boring Co. — and Las Vegas could be the setting for even more Super Bowls and other top-drawer sports and entertainment events.

But for now, the Super Bowl torch for the next game will be handed off to New Orleans, where this year’s game was supposed to be in the first place. Fans arriving at Allegiant Stadium Sunday will see billboards for Super Bowl 59 from Louisiana “where every day is a party.”

Just like in Las Vegas.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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