Las Vegas tourism officials riding high after hosting first Super Bowl

February 13, 2024 8:15 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
February 13, 2024 8:15 PM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports

On Tuesday, Las Vegas tourism officials spiked a figurative football as if they’d scored a winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. The city was so successful in its first time as host of the Big Game that it’s on track to host more championship events in the future.

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That was the sentiment expressed at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board meeting two days after the city welcomed 330,000 football fans. In addition, Super Bowl LVIII became the highest-rated U.S. television broadcast since the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, with more than 123 million viewers tuning in at some point during the game, according to broadcaster Paramount Global.

The national and international media descending on the city and broadcasting images throughout the week was one heck of an advertisement for Las Vegas.

“We had only one opportunity to get the first Super Bowl right and we did,” said LVCVA CEO Steve Hill in addressing the board. “That will have ramifications for years to come. What we learned on Sunday is how good this city is. It was a remarkable day —better than perfect. We had fantastic weather, probably the best Super Bowl ever played, and maybe the best halftime show in the history of the Super Bowl (with Usher performing). Magical things happen in Las Vegas.”

Las Vegas has dubbed itself the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World and Hill said the city knows it’s earned that moniker when other people are now saying it as well.

Over the last five months in what Hill called a “remarkable run,” Las Vegas has hosted NASCAR, Formula One, the National Finals Rodeo, seven Raiders games, 28 Golden Knights games, the Las Vegas Aces’ WNBA championship run, the Pac 12 football championship and Las Vegas Bowl, and first-ever NBA in-season tournament.

“The numbers are confirming that we are the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World because,” Hill said. “We have separated ourselves from other locations. Now there’s more work to do. There’s plenty more to bring and more to improve along the way, but we’re the frontrunners and everybody is chasing after us.”

Super Bowl LIX is scheduled for New Orleans, followed by 2026 in Santa Clara/San Francisco and 2027 in Los Angeles. It isn’t known when Las Vegas will get another game, but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that by its performance, Las Vegas has earned a chance to host the Super Bowl again. Los Angeles got the 2027 game after hosting it in 2022; if the same timetable is followed, it would bring it back to the city in February 2029.

“We appreciate the NFL giving us the opportunity to be the first city to host the draft, Pro Bowl, and now the Super Bowl and allowing us to do what Las Vegas does best,” said LVCVA Chief Operating Officer Brian Yost. “To quote Roger Goodell, ‘The hospitality here, you outdid it.’ It’s safe to say the NFL looks forward to coming back.”

LVCVA Chief Marketing Officer Kate Wik said estimates over the last 16 weeks indicate more than 14,000 news stories about the Super Bowl being held in Las Vegas that generated more than four billion impressions. That’s not counting Las Vegas as the backdrop for more than 20 live broadcasts on the Strip and at resort properties during Super Bowl week, she said.

Instead of spending $7 million for a commercial during the game, the LVCVA showcased Las Vegas by packing a suite with such iconic figures as Wayne Newton, Blue Man Group, Gordon Ramsey, showgirls, Jimmy Kimmel, Carrot Top, and Kelly Clarkson, Wik said. They also had social-media influencers with more than 560 million followers in the suite to post on TikTok, X, and Instagram. Combined content was pushed out to more than 760 million followers on Sunday to shine the spotlight on Las Vegas — something a $7 million commercial couldn’t deliver, Wik added.

Hill said they learned lessons that they will use the next time Las Vegas hosts the Super Bowl. For one, some venues were overloaded and needed to spread out. Still, on game day, Hill said traffic wasn’t congested around Allegiant Stadium and people could get to where they were going.

Clark County Commissioner and LVCVA Board Chairman Jim Gibson said hosting the Super Bowl was not only exciting for the world to see, but for Las Vegas residents as well. It also delivered the message that Las Vegas isn’t only the Strip, but a community.

Las Vegas Councilmember and board member Cedric Crear said it was an amazing feat for the region to pull off the event after hosting F1 on the Strip in November.

Board member Jan Jones Blackhurst said many of the 16 CEOs based outside of Las Vegas who were hosted during the week were so impressed with the city on their tour of the valley that they’re interested in relocating operations.

“Most of them said we never knew this was Las Vegas,” Jones Blackhurst said.