The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t win their first NFL home game at their brand new stadium until September 21, 2020, but no one in the sports world was surprised when just 15 months later the NFL awarded the city its first Super Bowl, which will be hosted here in 2024. That’s not all — multiple news outlets have reported that Vegas also landed college football’s biggest game, the national championship, for 2025.
This all makes sense because in just a few short years, Las Vegas has quickly repositioned itself as the in-person sports and entertainment capital of the country, if not the world. Just yesterday, in a series of such announcements, it was announced that the city would be hosting a Formula 1 race next year, one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Stefano Domenicali, President and CEO of Formula 1, said it well: “Las Vegas is a destination known around the world for its excitement, hospitality, thrills and, of course, the famous Strip. There’s no better place to race in Formula 1 than in the entertainment capital of the world and we can’t wait to be here next year.”
Las Vegas has reinvented itself so many times it’s hard to keep up, and sports are the next big thing. While still successfully attracting gamers, the rest of the tourist formula has been tweaked several times to appeal to families (with mixed results), honeymooners, bachelors and singles, music lovers and foodies. The latter was one of the most successful paradigm shifts, transforming Sin City’s image from cheap food in abundance to one of the best food towns in the world, with just about every major chef represented. Yet, as much of the city’s tourist appeal caters to all tastes and budgets, the famous buffets remain – and are better than ever.
Live entertainment, both music and production shows, has always been big here, with the likes of Sinatra and the Rat Pack back then, but none of the headliners had built a theater then. for them or had come for residencies that lasted for years. More than anything, it was the success of marketing Las Vegas as the capital of live entertainment that paved the way for the current boom in spectator sports as entertainment, and the two go hand in hand. There’s no other place you can see your favorite team play one night and an A-List headliner the next. And the next. And the next.
The logic behind music and sports is very similar. Let’s say you’re a fan of a band and they’re going on tour. You can catch them when they arrive at an arena near you, which is geographically easy. But if you’re going to take a road trip to see them, there’s no place that can rival your attention like Las Vegas, where you get the gig and a coveted vacation with access to all the great food, other entertainment, world class swimming pools, world class golf, world class nightlife and, of course, games. Plus, it’s a very travel-friendly destination, with tons of non-stop flights from everywhere – usually cheap – a very convenient and close airport, and the main music venues are very easy to get to while you’re staying at the hotels the most popular. This is certainly not the case for attending shows at places like the Meadowlands.
The same goes for sports. When the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights hit the ice in 2017, it quickly became apparent that if hockey fans were willing to take a road trip to see their team play somewhere else, it would be Vegas. It’s hard to believe that was just five years ago, and until then Las Vegas was the nation’s largest urban market without a team in “Big Four” professional sports, with its offerings limited to a WNBA team, the Las Vegas Aces (with one of the league’s best venues, the Michelob Ultra Arena in Mandalay Bay) and minor league baseball, the AAA Aviators, which also have a large ballpark, brand new there barely three years ago. The Knights, Aces and now the Raiders all play on or within walking distance of the Strip. The Knights (and many major gigs) are at T-Mobile Arena, just behind New York New York and Park MGM, the Aces at Mandalay Bay, and the Raiders just behind, in the new state-of-the-art Allegiant Stadium (also the new home of the city’s varsity football team, the UNLV Rebels).
Ever since the Knights came to town, it’s been a non-stop gold rush for Las Vegas and sports, but especially for sports and travel fans. The NHL brought its all-star game here two months ago. The NFL just moved the Pro Bowl here. These are all events that cities fight tooth and nail for. There was a weekend last year when you could have come to town and seen an NHL game, an NFL game and a fight for the world heavyweight championship in the same weekend . Not only does this not happen anywhere else, it’s not even uncommon here, and it will happen again.
As soon as the NFL schedule for last season was released, the first thing I did was see if the Bills, my team, would play in Vegas because it’s worth a special trip. Although the 2022 schedule has yet to be released (likely 6 weeks away), CBS Sports has reported the Raiders’ home opponents for next season: Chiefs, Broncos, Chargers, Texans, Colts, Patriots, Cardinals and 49ers. If you’re a fan of any of them, you might want to start thinking Vegas.
The last shoe to fall was the announcement of Formula 1. F1 is one of the most popular sports in the world, although not as big for the American public, although Vegas could help change that. Either way, it’s likely to be a huge hit, as few F1 fans can afford to attend the sport’s holy grail, Monaco, which has led to rapid growth for top-tier alternatives such as Singapore. . But racing fans everywhere will likely jump at the chance to combine their favorite sport with one of the most legendary tourist destinations on the planet.
Instead of a purpose-built circuit like Texas’ Circuit of the Americas, it’s an old-fashioned urban street grand prix, like Monaco, and will feature some of the world’s most famous asphalt, Las Vegas Boulevard, aka “The Strip”. The 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix will take place at night, on a Saturday in November, with a course passing the city’s most recognizable landmarks and casinos, with neon lights as a backdrop. The 50-lap race circuit will span 3.8 miles with three main straights and predicted speeds of up to 212 mph.
A writer from the official F1 website previewed the course and wrote: “Apart from the stands that will appear, there are so many places to look. Think Monaco, where fans cling to balconies, lampposts and trees and multiply that by a hundred. There are so many terraces, extravagant suites, pool decks and bar balconies to stretch out on that also offer impeccable views of the circuit. This motoring action hasn’t been seen here since Matt Damon drove cars around and through the Aria in Jason Bourne, the latest installment in his hit spy movie franchise. Local casino and hotel operators Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Las Vegas are all premier founding partners of the event.
It will become a marquee event at a relatively slow time of year in the city, but it’s far from the only notable part of the explosive growth in sports tourism that Las Vegas has embarked on. The city doesn’t have a Major League Baseball team (it’s only a matter of time), but it has become an annual host city for MLB spring training and its weekend of the Big League. It hosts major NCAA football and basketball games, I’ve seen the only US edition of the Rugby World Cup here, and of course there are frequent major boxing and championship games. mma. Las Vegas hosts the finale of every season of the TV hit American Ninja Warrior and the NFL Draft, which for some reason people care to watch.
Vegas would be a great place to watch sports without playing, but the ease of placing bets and the city’s many excellent venues for watching sports while betting (and eating and drinking well) made it THE place to go. for biggies like the Super Bowl, NCAA March Madness, and any major horse racing, if you can’t be at the event in person, no matter where they are. The newer sports-centric Circa Resort & Casino is the latest part of the city’s downtown revival and is home to the world’s largest sports betting venue, a 3-story stadium-style venue that seats up to to 1,000 guests and able to screen 19 matches simultaneously. Even the rooftop pool complex, “Stadium Swim,” has a sports theme, with six pools, two swim-up bars, and a 143-by-40-foot theater-style outdoor screen to ensure guests don’t miss a second of the action .
Other Las Vegas casinos have revamped their sportsbooks to take advantage of the city’s latest tourist craze, including sports bar and betting site BetMGM Sportsbook & Bar, added when the old Monte Carlo was turned into a sports complex. more upscale Park MGM casino. Even more recent, Stadia at Caesars Palace describes itself as “Stadia delivers a next-level sports viewing experience with plush amenities, plenty of big HD TVs, a menu brimming with premium and unique cocktail selections and more.” “. The latest is the Dawg House Saloon & Sports Book in Resorts World, the Strip’s first mega-resort in decades. It’s very big, less like a typical sportsbook with more restaurant style, but lots of screens, and bills itself as a “classic Nashville sports bar”, whatever that means.
For the foreseeable future, Las Vegas will host one big game after another, from weekly NFL and NHL games to the annual F1 race to the biggest one-time sporting events. If you like sports, you’ll probably go to Las Vegas, even if you don’t have a ticket.