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Las Vegas’ intimacy is exactly what the Super Bowl needs

Updated February 1, 2020 - 2:06 pm

MIAMI — The trip from what is a glamorous scene at South Beach to an airport hotel Wednesday night took about 25 minutes, during which a high-profiled event here this week was discussed.

“You know, until I saw a Fox Television tent set up, I had no idea the Super Bowl was even in town,” the driver said.

He works for Uber in what is sure to be a time of surging prices.

And hadn’t a clue about 49ers-Chiefs on Sunday.

I suppose there is a chance the young man isn’t any level of sports fan or perhaps lives under a boulder over at Bernie’s Rock & Garden on 117th Avenue.

But his indifference to Super Bowl LIV also supports this theory: Newer might not be better, but it sure will be a welcome and fresh sight when Las Vegas gets the game.

Miami is hosting a record 11th Super Bowl but its first after a 10-year hiatus. There is no question that $700 million in private funds to since renovate the entertainment complex that includes Hard Rock Stadium will make for a wondrous setting when San Francisco and Kansas City kick off.

History also plays a big part with the big game in a town that covers about 56 square miles between the Everglades to Biscayne Bay.

Vince Lombardi won his final NFL title in the second Super Bowl here. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees captured their first championship rings.

Joe Montana’s drive. Jim O’Brien’s kick. Joe Namath’s guarantee. John Elway’s final game. Lynn Swann’s catch.

More than anything else, however, our greatest sports moments need a greater level of intimacy as a prologue to the event itself. It’s why, until Las Vegas decided to build Allegiant Stadium, the NCAA could have rotated between Indianapolis and San Antonio for the Final Four and called it a day.

Nobody would have objected.

Oh, yeah. Las Vegas now should also be part of regular placements for the final weekend of college basketball’s grandest showcase.

Roger Goodell gave as much an indication this past week as he ever would that the Super Bowl is eventually headed to Southern Nevada, the NFL commissioner saying that once the city gets past hosting the draft in April, the time for a Super Bowl is “coming fast.”

The next round of Super Bowls to be awarded are for 2025 and 2026, announcements that could come as soon as the annual spring owners’ meetings in May.

Super Bowls need hotels. Major positive for Las Vegas.

They are big on entertainment. Huge positive.

The week is made better when most events are centralized to a specific location and walkable for fans. It needs to exhibit a personal feel. Excitement. A heightened level of anticipation.

Like, well, all you would find up and down the Strip.

Las Vegas should want a Super Bowl. It doesn’t need one. The town’s reported total economic impact from visitors and locals alike over a Super Bowl weekend is often more than the actual host city.

Translation: Las Vegas has a Super Bowl each year, only without the teams.

But it’s also impossible to put a price tag on how perception and the game’s long-term influence positively affects those featuring it. It’s invaluable.

Opinions here varied about Miami’s return as such, not all those strolling Ocean Drive and enjoying the art deco architecture and outdoor cafes overly impressed with how the game is being promoted.

Some suggested that without signage of the 49ers and Chiefs that they felt a lot like a certain Uber driver.

No more cold

“When I landed, you couldn’t tell at all the Super Bowl was here,” said Al Dyer, a councilman for the Pennsauken Township in New Jersey. “I’ve been to local eateries, and you hear no conversation regarding football.

“Miami is fun, regardless. Laid back, whether there is a Super Bowl or not. But while I know the last time it came to the Northeast (2014 in East Rutherford) it snowed, I still think Roger Goodell needs to bring it back to a colder climate.”

Dyer was enjoying a nice Cuban cigar as he spoke.

There is a good chance, given his push for the NFL to bring another Super Bowl to frigid outside conditions any time soon, that he also had partaken in some of those famous margaritas down on South Beach.

The next four Super Bowl sites are Tampa, Florida, Los Angeles, Glendale, Arizona, and New Orleans.

Las Vegas is sure to follow soon after, more intimate and fresh and walkable than any of those four.

All of it will be welcomed by those attending.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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