Las Vegas has developed quite a relationship with the NFL.
The city already has landed a franchise, the Raiders, hosted the 2022 Pro Bowl and next month will be home to the NFL draft.
But the biggest coup for Las Vegas will be hosting 2024’s Super Bowl LVIII. Allegiant Stadium got the opportunity to take New Orleans’ place as host when the elongated 17-game NFL season created conflicts for that city’s annual Mardi Gras celebration.
Enter Las Vegas as the late fill-in.
While the game is still nearly two years away, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill traveled to Los Angeles in February to see firsthand what it will take to host the NFL’s biggest event.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Review-Journal: You recently attended the Super Bowl in Los Angeles in preparation for Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas in 2024. What was the biggest takeaway for you in terms of hosting that event?
Steve Hill: I don’t know that I could give you just one. Summarizing, I’d say it is eye-opening what a big week it is. It’s so much more than just the Super Bowl (game on Sunday). The Super Bowl is spectacular and a great event on that Sunday, but we got the opportunity to see the events on Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the Super Bowl, and I think that’s going to be a lot of fun for the destination as well.
What will be the biggest challenge for Las Vegas hosting the Super Bowl?
Las Vegas is great in hosting large events, and we’ll have had a lot of practice because the stadium will have been open for years by the time the Super Bowl gets here. But the footprint of the Super Bowl is a little different from a normal game. It’s a very corporate crowd. You’ve got 65,000 people there that are used to being VIPs — all of them. So it tends to expand the footprint of all the activities and the amount of attention that needs to be paid to all of the attendees. The NFL has parties before and after the game. Those will be spread out throughout the city so that movement of people, the ability to get them to the game on time after having been at a party at a property, those kinds of things will be relatively new to us.
Does Las Vegas have a say in any of the planning? Is it possible that Las Vegas entertainment could be a part of the halftime show?
Absolutely. In any event, the customer is going to have the ability to weigh in with them and try to do what they want to do. In a city like Minneapolis — I’ve been there for the Final Four, a great city and they do a great job — but they have 35,000 hotel rooms. That’s about the (minimum) number of rooms you need in order to have the Super Bowl. We have 150,000. We’ve got really large properties. We’re going to be doing events around the Super Bowl for people who won’t even be going to the Super Bowl. So it’s going to be a different feel than you’re going to find in a city that doesn’t have the tourism scale that Las Vegas has.
How about the halftime show?
It is ultimately the NFL’s decision for those aspects of the game itself. It’s their game. They’ve come in and rented the stadium so it’s their call. But they are interested in having the flavor of the community wherever they are. You saw the halftime show just this past year that had a very distinct Los Angeles feel to it. I thought they did a great job with the theme of the Super Bowl halftime experience. The NFL’s in conversations with us now about how to make this a Las Vegas experience. They’ll do that in any city they go to.
There’s already a Super Bowl host committee in place. What has it done for preparation?
What’s really in place right now is the executive committee of the host committee. We will add hundreds of people to the host committee itself. What the host committee has done so far is define the subcommittees that we need within the host committee with different aspects of putting the Super Bowl on. We’ve hired an executive director. Those kinds of initial steps are needed in order to be ready for the Super Bowl. There’s work to do this calendar year, but the real full-blown effort will start once the Super Bowl in Phoenix is complete.
Allegiant Air founder Maurice Gallagher chairs the host committee. Did he also go to the Los Angeles game?
He went, (host committee members) Sandra Douglass Morgan went, Jeremy Aguero, Virginia Valentine, Steve Zanella from MGM. So six or seven of that nine-person executive committee were there.
Do you anticipate there being any scheduling problems should the Raiders make a playoff run that season?
We just hope the Raiders are in that Super Bowl. That would be terrific. The conference championship games are two weeks before the Super Bowl. That’s plenty of time for us to set up everything for the Super Bowl at the stadium.
What research have you done on other host cities staging Super Bowls in their communities?
I think all of these really big events, like the Final Four, the college football national championship, the Super Bowl, have what they call a future cities program. So with us in L.A., they matched us with the L.A. host committee, but the Phoenix host committee was there and the New Orleans host committee was there as well, so it was all four of those host cities in a series of meetings and going to events. So we got an opportunity to interact with all of those cities. Obviously, L.A., Phoenix and New Orleans have an exceptional amount of experience putting on major events. They’ve been putting on Super Bowls for more than 50 years. We had that opportunity to interact with them. That was really helpful. Cities are more than willing to help other cities make sure that these events are great. It’s in everybody’s benefit, and we don’t see ourselves in competition with them. It was really beneficial to us.
January normally is a huge convention month for Las Vegas. Do you anticipate any problems in accommodating the NFL at the same time we’ll have the likes of CES, the SHOT show and World of Concrete in town?
Those shows that you just mentioned will be gone by the time the Super Bowl is here. The Super Bowl in ’24 is on Feb. 11, so we’re well into February. If we were trying to do the Super Bowl at the same time as CES or the SHOT show, the logistics of that really wouldn’t work because it’s not just the Sunday game — it’s a week to week and a half lead-up to that Super Bowl. It’s a part of the conversation we’ve had around the college football national championship. That does fall in the same time frame right now as CES, which is really causing us not to be able to host that game.
So the MAGIC fashion exhibition will be right around the time of the game. Will that be a problem?
No, the way the schedule works, we think we can make all that happen simultaneously.
Have any shows offered to change the dates of their gatherings because of the Super Bowl?
No. There’s no place better to have an event than Las Vegas, and I think you can see that all types of organizations are now looking to have events here. The Super Bowl in ’24 is going to be a test for the city that I know we are going to pass.
Do you expect Las Vegas and Allegiant Stadium to become a part of a regular rotation of host cities for the Super Bowl in the future?
The NFL is going to want to come back, and I think soon. We did the Pro Bowl just a few weeks ago. We have the draft coming up. The partnership we have had with the NFL has been great. All through the process, even when we were considering the stadium and considering the Raiders coming, they were open with us, direct and easy to deal with. We understood what they needed. They were very forthcoming with that, and they’ve been consistent. It’s been a great partnership, and we think they feel the same way about Las Vegas. So we’re excited to have the Super Bowl here in a couple of years.
How are the plans for the NFL draft in April coming along?
The plan for the draft we had in 2020 is largely the same as for 2022. The main stage is by the (Caesars) Forum behind The Linq on Caesars property. The stage that will be on the Bellagio fountains is for interviews of the players after they’ve been announced at Caesars. There will be a number of park-and-ride opportunities, including using the (Las Vegas) Monorail. Anything on the monorail route will be pretty convenient access for the draft. We will be offering all of our (Las Vegas Convention Center) parking lots free so that locals can come, park here and jump on the monorail. A trip on the monorail for locals is only $1. So it would cost you only $1 to get into the draft that way. Properties up and down the Strip will have parking as well.