Sam Joffrey has an unofficial goal for 2024. He wants to make Super Bowl weekend next February the biggest event in Las Vegas. In any city that is fortunate enough to host a Super Bowl, that would seem like a pretty modest goal. In fact, Las Vegas is already a very popular place to visit during the Super Bowl even without having the actual game here.
But in Las Vegas, well there’s this little annual event called New Year’s Eve.
Year in and year out, New Year’s Eve has been the town’s most popular tourist event, filling hotel rooms to the brim with people looking to ring in the New Year. The Strip closes early and throngs of people rush onto the streets to watch the fireworks. On top of all that, some of the best entertainers in the world put on shows at casino showrooms.
But Super Bowl weekend is usually a close second in terms of attracting visitors from across the country. Despite sports gambling becoming legal in many other states, Las Vegas is still the place to be, even without the game. This year, more than 300,000 visitors came to Las Vegas, making prop bets and partying at many of the local sports books and bars.
“Las Vegas is definitely a destination site,” said Joffrey, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee, a nonprofit company charged with recruiting and managing up to 10,000 local volunteers to help welcome fans, media and other Super Bowl attendees. “Vegas is the most popular place to see the Super Bowl. It’s already such an exciting game, but we hope to make it unlike any other. It’s like bringing sand to the beach, but it’s actually more like bringing a rock and roll concert to the beach.”
One of the biggest questions on whether or not to even bid on the game in the first place was how much impact hosting the game would provide, considering the town does great when the game is played elsewhere. But Joffrey said there’s enough hotel inventory available to make it worthwhile.
“New Year’s Eve has always been the biggest (event) of the year,” he said. “Super Bowl has always been second. Our goal is to make (Super Bowl LVIII) the biggest weekend Vegas has ever seen.”
To that end, work by the Super Bowl Host Committee is well underway. In fact, it started back on Dec. 15, 2021, when Las Vegas was awarded the game. Joffrey has experience in this regard, as he was co-executive director of the 2013 Super Bowl Host Committee of the game played in New Orleans. He said he was anxious to get the call about Las Vegas, even though the bidding process is a little different in that a city gets an exclusive bidding window.
“When you’re bidding on a Super Bowl, you’re not always confident you’re going to get it,” Joffrey said. “When we go the call, I was relieved. You don’t want to lose a bid to yourself.”
Since then, there’s been a lot of behind-the-scenes planning going on. But now, with Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix in the books, the clock is now ticking on Feb. 11, 2024. The challenge, as Joffrey sees it, is building the infrastructure on hosting a Las Vegas game from scratch. Joffrey has certainly been a part of this process in the past and was in Phoenix this month to see how that city handled it. But Las Vegas offers a whole different level of hospitality and expectations.
“We’ve already executed some of our programs,” he said. “We’ve had a head start. We’re well prepared. We learned a lot from Phoenix. We learned how the visitor patterns are coming back after COVID. We’ve started to see attendance coming back up. This year, we could really feel the difference. To see a sold out stadium and sold out special events, it is confirming that everything is back 100 percent.”
The game is estimated to have more than $500 million in economic impact to Las Vegas, according the Las Vegas Convention & Visitor’s Authority based on previous Super Bowls. The importance of getting this first Super Bowl right is even more important as to what it will mean for future games in Las Vegas. Joffrey said Las Vegas could definitely fill a spot in a regular Super Bowl rotation.
“The golden rule is to get the first one right,” Joffrey said. “Then give it 24 hours and then start knocking on the door.”