When you think about Las Vegas, the first thing that comes to mind may be gambling, parties, or just excessive indulgence. But in less than a decade, the city of Las Vegas has made real and continuous efforts to change that. Sin City is on its way to becoming the Sports Capital of the United States.
Sports are ingrained in the fabric of Las Vegas, beginning with the legalization of sports betting in the late 40s and continuing with the legendary boxing events held there in the 50s and 60s. But for decades, professional leagues and events wanted nothing to do with Sin City. Leagues feared the repercussions that could come from aligning themselves with gambling. But now, sporting events are practically an everyday thing in the city. Sports leagues and organizations are doing everything they can to be a part of the Las Vegas sports renaissance.
The city is now home to four professional sports teams: the NFL’s Raiders, NHL’s Golden Knights, WNBA’s Aces, and USL’s Lights, with MLB’s Athletics on the way. These teams have all seen incredible financial growth since their establishment or move into Sin City. Sponsorship experts estimate a $500 million increase in potential sponsorship revenue for the As over the next decade following their move to Vegas. The Raiders have also experienced a 691% increase in sponsorship revenue over the last three years since their move from Oakland. The NHL expanded into Vegas for the 2017-18 season with the Golden Knights, and they began reaping the rewards day 1. In just their first season, the Golden Knights ranked in the league’s top 10 in total revenue and raked in over $90 million in sponsorship revenue.
Additionally, there has been a ton of noise surrounding a future NBA expansion franchise into Vegas with legends like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and more publicly expressing interest in joining an ownership group for the rumored expansion team.
Las Vegas has also maintained its standing as the combat sports capital of the country. The city is home to a majority of the UFC’s events, and it hosts the largest boxing events in the country each year. Even the recently built MGM Las Vegas Sphere has joined the legendary combat sports history of the city, with the futuristic venue being officially booked by Dana White and the UFC for an upcoming fight card.
But the sporting event that has grabbed the most eyes as of late is undoubtably the recent Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix, which saw an F1 track constructed on the streets of The Strip. The multi-million dollar racing cars zipped around some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Despite the race’s initial hiccups, it was an undeniable success with more than 300,000 attending throughout the four-night event and over 1.3 million viewers tuned in on ESPN despite the 1 a.m. EST start time. The events’ organizers project that the economic impact for the city is upwards of $1.2 billion.
Even with the Vegas Grand Prix’s impressive success, Vegas’ biggest sporting event of the year is yet to come. The city will host the upcoming Super Bowl LVII in February which is bound to be a financial success. Paramount Global and CBS have been sold out of advertisement space since October, more than 4 months ahead of The Big Game. The event is projected to have an economic impact upwards of $500 million.
Vegas’ sports renaissance has led to incredible economic impact for the city. In a study published by UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, they estimated that sporting events generated $1.845 billion in economic activity from out-of-town visitors during 2022 alone. With the F1 race and Super Bowl’s projections set to equal 2022’s economic impact on their own, it is almost certain that 2023 will have a significantly larger return for Sin City. Researchers also forecast a 12.4% increase in employment within the preforming arts, spectator sports, and related industries from 2022 to 2030 equaling about 3,000 new permanent jobs in the city.