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Some people visit Las Vegas for the gaming. Others enjoy being entertained by dazzling music or magic shows, while some just like walking on the Las Vegas Strip and eating an In-N-Out burger. But more and more are setting out for Southern Nevada to watch sports, and the city is out to prove it can host them all.
For decades, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has worked with resorts, local governments, the service industry and other groups to help bring special live sports to Las Vegas. Sporting events continue to be a great opportunity to diversify Las Vegas’ citywide calendar to attract visitors throughout the year, said Maria Phelan, public relations manager for the LVCVA.
For instance, the city a few decades ago, was looking to fill out its December calendar in what used to be a slow time. City officials and the LVCVA worked to convince National Finals Rodeo (NFR) officials to move the big event to Las Vegas. Since it was first held in 1985, the NFR alone has brought more than one million visitors to the city and generated more than $1 billion in economic impact.
December is no longer a slow month in Las Vegas. It has pivoted to become a destination for cowboys, country music, and the world’s best rodeo athletes and their fans. There is a myriad of complementary events throughout the city including the Cowboy Christmas, Cowboy FanFest, Country Christmas, Cowboy Marketplace and Downtown Hoedown events to name just a few.
Las Vegas has also caught the attention of NFL decision-makers. As the NFL has continually changed the location of its draft every year to accommodate more fans, and as the event has gained popularity and now warrants prime-time television coverage, Las Vegas has been tapped. Originally set to host the 2020 NFL Draft, the city’s hopes were dashed when the live draft was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the event was conducted virtually.
Though the 2021 draft was held in Cleveland, Ohio, plans are underway now for the 2022 draft to be held in Las Vegas.
The LVCVA also worked with the former Oakland Raiders, various municipal and other partners to submit a plan to the NFL so Las Vegas could become the new home of the Silver and Black Las Vegas Raiders at the sparkling Allegiant Stadium (with practice facility in neighboring Henderson) in 2020.
Other events that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has collaborated on include the Big League Weekend. This annual baseball event is becoming more popular by the year. It is a weekend of Major League Baseball’s Spring Training exhibition games. Held in Summerlin at the newly opened (2020) Las Vegas Ballpark, this weekend has included games with visiting teams such as the Oakland A’s, the Chicago Cubs, and the Cincinnati Reds.
Players and front-office executives alike have praised the facility and the city for putting out the welcome mat and helping bring baseball to the desert. Other classic Las Vegas sporting events include the National Basketball Association’s Summer League and the Spring and Fall NASCAR Cup Series weekends.
There are also landmark rugby cup matches with international teams, soccer-league play finals as well as the Las Vegas Lights futbol club, and college football games featuring the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels galore. Allegiant Stadium would be remiss if it didn’t mention some of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) professional wrestling events it has planned. Did we mention the ice hockey team (the Vegas Golden Knights) and the Women’s National Basketball Association team, the Las Vegas Aces?
And Vegas’ inclusive nature means the Sin City Classic Sports Festival will be back in January 2022. The 24 different LGBTQ sporting events including darts, swimming, bowling, billiards and tennis (among others) are expected to attract more than 8,000 athletes and all their fans.
Sports events and spectating go hand-in-hand in Las Vegas.
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