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Preview Las Vegas 2024

Steve Marcus

Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher, right, speaks with Mary Beth Sewald, president and CEO of the Vegas Chamber, speaks Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher with during Preview Las Vegas at the Fontainebleau Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.

The Vegas Chambers’ annual Preview Las Vegas on Wednesday at Fontainebleau Las Vegas was dominated by one theme: sports tourism.

The event, which touted the ongoing economic prosperity in Southern Nevada, included panels on the Formula One Las Vegas Grand Prix, Super Bowl 58 and the Oakland Athletics’ upcoming relocation here.

“Our prosperity is not by accident,” said Jeremy Aguero, principal analyst at Applied Analysis. “It can be difficult overall, but we keep going forward because we’re doing pretty remarkable things as a community.”

He said the region has seen historic economic gains, from job and industry growth to advancements in infrastructure, however many people seem to have a hard time “embracing” that prosperity.

He pointed to the seemingly widespread belief that last year’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix was bad for Southern Nevada and its residents. Some locals became frustrated with the race because of road construction affecting commutes and costing business owners millions.

The race brought many economic benefits to the community, Aguero said, not least of which was relatively high visitation and occupancy rates for a historically slow November weekend.

The event garnered the greatest single-race viewership in the 2023 F1 season and $64 million in total visitor taxes.

“It was an incredible event,” said Renee Wilm, CEO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix. “It highlighted this town on a global scale in a way that I think no one has ever done before, and we were so happy to be part of that and to make it a reality. We came to town with a sizzle reel and vision and no playbook, and to just be sitting here a few months after the event — and now looking forward to the Super Bowl and everything that Vegas has become in terms of the sport city — is just an incredibly proud moment.”

A survey by Applied Analysis found that a majority of locals support keeping the race here. The race has a contract with Clark County through 2032.

“No one knew how hard this project would be from a logistical perspective or from any other perspective, honestly, we had no playbook,” Wilm told members of the media. “We just had a vision that everyone agreed would be amazing for this town, and it was an incredibly successful race. And yes, we know there were a number of challenges, as I mentioned, with regard to some local businesses.”

Betsy Fretwell, COO of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, said they are “making the rounds” to talk to local businesses and get a sense where there are areas for improvement with the next race in November.

“I think it’s going to be really important and valuable to keep that conversation alive,” she said.

Not only will the preparation period for the 2024 race last only three months instead of nine, as it did last year, its impact on community roadways will also be much less, Fretwell said.

According to data shared during Wednesday’s event, two-thirds of residents experienced delays from road construction because of the course development.

You learn a lot from the first year, Fretwell said, and the second year is an opportunity to improve the model. Going forward the goal for the race is to make sure that it builds on its success from its inaugural year, she said, while also engaging small businesses in that success.

“So, I think there’s an opportunity there for us to continue to work with them, to help them and their businesses, but also help the race, help our company and make this even more successful,” Fretwell said.

The ‘Las Vegas Athletics’

When asked why he chose to bring Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s to Las Vegas, owner John Fisher said he was most excited by the city’s fans, and how well they’ve loved the Las Vegas Aces, Las Vegas Raiders and Vegas Golden Knights.

He’s looked to the Raiders’ example when it comes to preserving the franchise’s past, while also looking toward its future. The A’s history is rich and important, he said, but he also wants the franchise to truly become the Las Vegas Athletics.

“So they’ve worked really, really hard to incorporate both the historical component of the team, but also make sure that the local community feels like it’s our team — their team,” Fisher said of the Raiders. “And so that’s something we want to focus on.”

Renderings of the A’s brand new, $1.5 billion ballpark — slated to be built on the site of the Tropicana — will be released eventually, though Fisher said he wants to wait and release the renderings for the stadium alongside renderings for the resort that’s supposed to be built on the remainder of the former Tropicana.

Fisher said the goal is to open the venue by 2028, but declined to specify where the team will make its temporary home while the new stadium is constructed.

“There’s 2.3 million people here — it feels like all of them are baseball fans, which is really a great thing,” he said. “Little League is a huge part of this community. And just seeing other professional sports teams, whether it be the Aces, Raiders, or the Golden Knights, the degree of local support has just been incredible.”

Countdown to the Super Bowl

Officials at the event, which also included panels on infrastructure and how to bring companies to Las Vegas — particularly as the city continues to grow into the moniker of Sports Capital of the World — reflected on bringing Las Vegas’ first-ever Super Bowl to town, with the big game less than three weeks away.

“There is no better city in the world to host the biggest sporting event of the year,” Gov. Joe Lombardo said at the event’s start. “Las Vegas is ready. We can’t wait for the kickoff.”

Peter O’Reilly, executive vice president of club business for the NFL, emphasized the importance of making an impact on the local Las Vegas community with Super Bowl 58.

“This community is saying, ‘We want that, let’s do this again,’ ” he said. “That would be a win. But we want to make sure that ultimately we’re doing right by this community, and not just coming in and putting on a big show.”

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Article written by #LasVegasSun