(Las Vegas) The holding of the Super Bowl on Sunday in Las Vegas places the gaming city among the major sports cities in the United States, an outcome that was far from obvious just a few years ago.
“People are used to reducing Vegas to gambling and partying. But it’s a city of sports, of events, and the Super Bowl shows it,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday.
For decades, the all-powerful American Football League, like most other sports, with the exception of boxing, snubbed Las Vegas and its sulphurous reputation as a city of gambling and vice.
In 2002, Vegas considered a $2 million ad during the Super Bowl to showcase its motto, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The NFL refused to broadcast it.
NFL executives then argued for the existence in their television contracts of rules prohibiting advertising linked to betting, without the advertisement in question directly mentioning gambling.
F1, baseball, hockey
Twenty-two years later, the city of Nevada is no longer a pariah, but on the contrary attracts major teams and events.
The National Hockey League was the first of the major American leagues to establish a franchise, the Golden Knights, present since 2017.
That same year, the NFL decided to join the party by allowing the Oakland Raiders to relocate. Operational since 2020, their futuristic Allegiant Stadium hosts the Super Bowl on Sunday, which pits the Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers.
The venue, built as close as possible to the famous Strip, will also host three Copa America football matches this summer.
More than 20 years after two races in the Caesars Palace parking lot, Formula 1 made its return with great fanfare to Vegas last November and will return there for at least ten years, after investing $500 million in a permanent paddock.
The flow is not about to stop with the MLB’s Oakland Athletics having received the green light to join Vegas and are expected to play there from 2028, in a brand new venue.
The gaming city is also officially part of the NBA’s expansion plans. Orange ball star LeBron James has expressed his desire to invest in a future team where he won the first NBA Cup last December.
“I think adding a franchise here would support the dynamics of the city,” he said in October.
A popular tourist destination, with 40 million visitors between March 2022 and March 2023 according to the authorities, Vegas is “made to host events”, assures AFP the director of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). ), Steve Hill.
“We can take care of a stadium of 65,000 people as if they were all VIPs. »
According to Mr. Hill, sports betting and an increasing number of inhabitants (656,000 in 2022 compared to 508,000 20 years earlier) explain this turnaround.
In 2018, a decision by the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who believed in 2012 that “betting was not good for professional sports,” has long since softened his position on the subject, now calling Vegas “Sportstown, USA” (“Sportstown, USA” (“Sportstown, USA”). The sports city in the United States).