With the Super Bowl approaching and its inaugural Formula 1 street race beginning this month, Las Vegas is reinventing itself as a hub for sports for sports enthusiasts worldwide rather than just a place to gamble and attend pop concerts.
It makes sense that tourists have high expectations when a city bills itself as the “entertainment capital of the world.” And those expectations are typically fulfilled in Las Vegas.
The desert city attracts millions of visitors annually (around 2.9 million in 2019) because of its opulent hotels, A-list performers, and infinite gaming possibilities.
It’s difficult to think that a place that already has six Cirque du Soleil shows, acts by some of the top musicians in the world, and immersive art experiences like the recently launched Sphere can fit in any more fun.
However, Vegas’s development from its beginnings as a railroad stopover town in 1905 to its current state as a multicolored metropolis in 2023 has been a steady and relentless force.
Vegas is already looking into additional entertainment options as it gets ready to host the first-ever Super Bowl in Nevada and host its first-ever Formula 1 race—along The Strip, no less.
Here are some things sports enthusiasts in Sin City may anticipate in 2024.
The first-ever Formula 1 race will take place in Las Vegas this month on Sunday, November 19. It’s the nation’s second Grand Prix—the official US Grand Prix was held in Austin, Texas—but it will be the sole street race held in the United States, and a night race at that.
Twenty of the fastest cars in the world will begin a race through the neon-lit streets of the city at 10 p.m.
Transforming the metropolis for this purpose was no mean feat; the infrastructure required to host such an event is extensive. Fernando Hurtado, Senior Director of Global Sales at LVCVA, shared some of the challenges in bringing this attraction to fruition.
“First year issues were road closures and paving of the streets – but also the footings for the grandstands. There are actually grandstands that hang over the Bellagio fountains and where the canals of The Venetian are as well.”
Though tricky to establish, it’s all investment for a sporting future that Vegas is committing to.
“The timelines this year were a bit further out because we were putting in the infrastructure, but going forward, now that’s all in place, this will assist the next five, six, seven years,” Hurtado adds.
“The repaving of the roads will last for several years and we’ll just top them up annually so they have a very smooth surface.”
The daily seating capacity for the race is 105,000, while the race itself is projected to reach100,000 million viewers worldwide.
This is just the latest move by Las Vegas into sporting entertainment. The city also has its own NFL (the Las Vegas Raiders), ice hockey (the Vegas Golden Knights) and women’s basketball (Las Vegas Aces) teams – all purposely cultivated in the years leading up to the pandemic.
“Even though the Las Vegas Raiders play ten home games a season, Hurtado says it all comes down to having that stadium in the back pocket.” “Is it suitable for concerts and conferences? Certainly. Pink and Beyoncé recently performed there.
The city will host the Super Bowl in February 2024 in the brand-new, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium, which was constructed especially to cement the city’s reputation as an NFL destination. The halftime act will include Grammy Award-winning musician Usher, who is presently performing as part of his Vegas residency. Over the length of the event, the city anticipates 330,000 visitors.
Vegas is receiving a lot of attention from these new events, but the city has a distinguished history in one particular sport: boxing.
Numerous significant matches took place beneath the brilliant lights of Caesar’s Palace and the MGM Grand, drawing thousands of visitors hoping to spend a weekend gambling and playing games. In the neon city, there was even a heavyweight boxing battle that was regarded as “the last hurrah” between Muhammad Ali and Larry Holmes.
Outside of downtown, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, home of the NASCAR Cup series, has held a variety of motorsport events since it opened more than 50 years ago. With its rich history of motorsports, Formula 1 is just the most recent addition.
But there’s no denying that the location is about to enter a new age, one that wants to compete with other major US towns that are known for their athletic excellence.
Urging people to travel to Vegas for a major event is just one aspect of Hurtado’s strategy, in his opinion. He thinks the city is still getting over its reputation as a place for “gambling only” and is “constantly reinventing itself.”
“Oh, Vegas, it’s all about gaming and gambling, isn’t that right? However, we now have this chance, which is essentially an advertisement, to promote the location. And it will start ahead of schedule for the race.
Prior to the race, there will be a huge concert with both domestic and foreign performers. It will be broadcast on television as early as Wednesday of race week.
Beyond just sporting events, a lot more is coming to Vegas.
The city plans to open the Vegas Loop, a network of tunnels that would shuttle tourists between 90 important metropolitan landmarks, in the next five years. They will be transported between locations including Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Harry Reid International Airport by human-driven Teslas for the time being. The goal is to move tourists through the city more quickly and responsibly.
A new addition to the upgraded lodging options is the 3700-room Fontainebleau Hotel, which is ideally located across from the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Hard Rock Hotel chain now owns the iconic hotel The Mirage, which will have a guitar-shaped tower within a few years.
But according to Hurtado, the city’s future lies in being a hub for artistic expression.