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Outside of the game, Super Bowl activities bringing in fans (and their money) to Las Vegas

Football fans who can’t afford the game’s high ticket prices flock to lower-cost events to be part of the experience.
Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz
EconomySports
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Allegiant Stadium was awash in a sea of scarlet and red Monday night.

But standing out in their navy blue, emerald green and gray Seattle Seahawks fan gear were James and Cara True.

Surrounded by thousands of Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers fans decked out in Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Brock Purdy and Deebo Samuels jerseys, the Seattle residents said they were having a great time attending the Opening Night celebration for Super Bowl LVIII.

They secured seats on the stadium’s 50-yard line, which had open seating for the event and a ticket price of $30. 

“We come to Las Vegas every two or three years,” Cara True said. “We thought it would be fun to see the teams and see the players.”

Opening Night drew almost 30,000 fans to Allegiant Stadium for the first public event of Super Bowl week. Fans were able to see the teams parade into the venue and participate in the traditional media night where several hundred media members interviewed them. The NFL said more than 6,000 journalists worldwide have been credentialed to cover the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas.

The game has taken on the persona of a national holiday celebration — one with a uniquely Vegas — and noticeably more expensive — twist.

With tourism officials projecting that more than 330,000 visitors will be in Las Vegas over the weekend, ticket prices for Sunday’s game are in the four- to five-figure price range, the highest price for any Super Bowl. An analysis released Jan. 30 forecasted average daily room rates during Super Bowl weekend at $573 — a total higher than any other Super Bowl host site on record. 

So tickets to the Super Bowl Experience inside Mandalay Bay South Convention Center — at $50 per person with children under 12 free — could be considered a bargain.

The atmosphere inside Allegiant was jovial Monday as football fans mingled on the stadium’s concourse. On the field, performers from several Strip showrooms, including the Blue Man Group and “The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil,” served as the pre-event entertainment.

The Trues, who usually travel around this time of year, said they chose Las Vegas several months ago with the hope that the Seahawks would be taking the field at Allegiant on Sunday. Their favorite NFL team didn’t even make the playoffs. 

Even with their favorite team not playing and without tickets to the game, the couple still planned to visit other attractions in Las Vegas surrounding the Super Bowl and watch Sunday’s game at a watch party inside Westgate Las Vegas.

“Everyone has been friendly,” Cara True said of the 49ers and Chiefs fans. 

‘$799 million in incremental impact’

Those are the kind of tourists that Jeremy Aguero, a principal analyst with Las Vegas-based advisory firm Applied Analysis, said would provide a sizable boost to the city’s economy when it pitched the NFL on hosting the 2024 Super Bowl three years ago.

In a report to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, he estimated that hosting the Super Bowl in Las Vegas would result in a net incremental impact of $799 million and $62 million in tax revenue to state and local governments.

Aguero told Vegas Inc. on Monday that Super Bowl LVIII would “be measured among the largest, if not the single largest event in Southern Nevada’s history.”

Myriad football-themed attractions have popped up leading up to the game. The largest is the Experience, which opened Wednesday afternoon and runs through Saturday. The 700,000-square-foot NFL theme park has interactive games, attractions and photo opportunities, including with the Vince Lombardi Trophy that will be awarded to the winning team and multiple former and current NFL players, including Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Soon after the doors opened Wednesday, Las Vegas resident Howard Button stopped to browse the display of previous Super Bowl rings. Button, who attended Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego when he lived in Southern California, said the Experience was free in 1998. 

“This one is much bigger and there seems to be more activities,” he said.

The NFL has credentialed more than 6,000 media members worldwide for the Super Bowl, including Benjamin Schmidt, a journalist from Basel, Switzerland, who is attending his fourth game in the last five years.

He said Swiss citizens and residents of northern Germany, who read his coverage in Basler Zeitung, Swiss German-language daily newspaper, have a growing interest in the NFL because games are televised weekly. Adding Las Vegas as the host city for the game increased the interest.

“Everything here is bigger but also closer together,” Schmidt said of how Mandalay Bay is less than a mile from Allegiant Stadium. “[Super Bowl LVI] in Los Angeles had everything very spread out. It’s much easier to get around in Las Vegas.”

Football fans travel

Detroit residents Jim and Kathy Hunsanger said they initially hoped they wouldn’t be the only Lions fans inside Allegiant when they made plans in December to come to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl.

Two weeks after the Lions blew a 17-point halftime lead to the 49ers to lose in the NFC conference championship game 34-31, the couple decided to make the trip West anyway. Conspicuous in their Honolulu Blue Lions jerseys, they said they were warmly greeted by 49ers and Chiefs fans inside Allegiant Stadium during Monday’s Opening Night celebration.

“My sister lives in Las Vegas,” Jim Hunsanger said. “I even had a line on [buying] tickets if the Lions had won. We just thought it would be a fun trip.”

Like the couple from Seattle, the Hunsangers made plans to visit the Super Bowl Experience, but will be back in Detroit in time for Sunday’s game. 

Friends Jason Hamm, a 49ers fan, and Caesar Nava, who was wearing a Chiefs jersey, drove their football-playing sons from Tucson to Las Vegas — a seven-hour drive — early Wednesday just to attend the Experience. 

Hamm went to the Experience a year ago in Phoenix and couldn’t resist seeing the attraction in Las Vegas. Their sons, Christopher Hamm and Marty Nava, competed in the “Two Minute Drill” passing game.

Sebastian Uribe and his family will also watch the game at home, but not before the 49ers fans from San Diego visited the Super Bowl Experience on Wednesday and saw some of the themed attractions in front of many Strip resorts.  

Uribe, his wife Ruth, son Cash and daughter Sage — all wearing 49ers gear — had a place along the playing field where they could see some of their favorite players milling around. Eight players from each team, including Mahomes and Purdy, had seats on raised platforms for media interviews.

“We want to be close and see whoever we can,” Sebastian Uribe said. The family decided to drive to Las Vegas from San Diego after the 49ers beat the Lions. 

“It’s great being here and being this close to the team and seeing the stadium,” he said. “It was a great opportunity.”

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