AP Photo/Ashley Landis
Monday, Feb. 12, 2024 | 2 a.m.
The Super Bowl isn’t just 60 minutes of football — or in the case of Super Bowl LVIII, the 74 minutes and 57 seconds that were played at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday. That’s a big part of it, sure, but the whole Super Bowl experience extends well beyond the game, taking over a city for an entire week and shining the brightest spotlight on everything in its path.
The same goes for the winners and losers. The Kansas City Chiefs were the big winners on the field, but they weren’t the only ones to come out of this week on top of the world.
A look at some of the other winners and losers of Las Vegas’s first Super Bowl:
Winner: Las Vegas
The goal, from the moment Las Vegas was awarded the 2024 Super Bowl, was to do a good enough job to ensure the game keeps coming back. Mission accomplished.
The weather did not cooperate, as we got cool temps and lots of rain over the seven days leading up to the game, but it hardly mattered. The execution was sound, and the whole production went off without a hitch — save for some complaints about practice fields (see below) — meaning the league will likely be adding Las Vegas to the Super Bowl rotation.
CBS play by play announcer Jim Nantz, who has called seven Super Bowls in six different cities, said it best when talking about Las Vegas during his intro to kickoff.
“What a magnificent host city it has been,” he said.
The UNLV football program got blindsided by negative press this week, and that’s unfortunate, because none of it was the university’s fault.
UNLV’s practice facility was designated as the 49ers’ headquarters for the week, and reviews of the Fertitta Football Complex were good. There was one issue, though — the NFL installed grass turf over UNLV’s artificial surface, and the rain led to soggy conditions and anonymous complaints from the 49ers organization.
The NFL botched the fields, but once social media learned that the 49ers were unhappy about practicing at lowly UNLV while the Chiefs were holed up at the Raiders’ facilities, it created a flood of negativity directed at UNLV.
There’s a public relations saying that goes: If you’re explaining, you’re losing. To that point, try to explain the difference between the facilities and the practice fields, and who was to blame, and see what good it does. Casual fans aren’t going to make that distinction. That’s how UNLV ended up as an undeserved punching bag for Super Bowl week.
Winner: Media day as a moneymaker
The NFL has been trying to make Opening Night a thing for a while, but Vegas really demonstrated its potential. A record 23,823 fans paid to get into Allegiant Stadium on Monday night to watch the press conduct mass-scale interviews, which shows that the league is onto something with the event.
With a few tweaks here and there to make the night more spectator-friendly — perhaps some live performances and more fan activities would do the trick — this looks like something the NFL is going to continue to market and grow into a Super Bowl staple.
Loser: Media day as a media event
As media day morphs into a fan event, it becomes almost impossible to navigate from a media perspective. Hundreds of journalists crowding around podiums and shouting questions at athletes was already a tenuous way to glean any insight, but when it was done in an empty stadium at least you could hear the answers. Once you add nearly 30,000 fans to the equation, the noise level made it nearly impossible to maintain any line of communication on the field. There’s got to be a better way.
Winner: Mark Davis
Less than a decade ago, Raiders owner Mark Davis was viewed as someone who was, to put it nicely, out of his depth as an NFL shot caller.
Look at him now.
After a series of shrewd moves, Davis has completely turned it around. First he convinced Las Vegas to use public money to build him a brand new stadium, which multiplied the value of his franchise. And as a reward for pulling of that coup, the NFL awarded him the Super Bowl — the crown jewel event of North American sports.
Oh, and Davis also owns the back-to-back reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces.
Las Vegas is now a pro sports town, and Davis is its king.
Loser: Raiders fans
Super Bowl LVIII was a nightmare matchup for the Silver and Black faithful, as it meant either Kansas City or San Francisco — both hated rivals — was going to win a Super Bowl championship in the Raiders’ home stadium.
After the game, Patrick Mahomes and his victorious teammates retreated to the Raiders’ locker room, where they smoked victory cigars and painted the walls with champagne.
If that didn’t boil the blood of Raiders fans, Chiefs player Justin Reid referred to Allegiant Stadium as “Arrowhead West.” Even for a long-suffering fanbase that is numb to pain, that’s gotta sting.
Winner: NFL logistics
The NFL proved it’s possible to drop a huge-scale, one-off sports event into the middle of the city without uprooting the lives of locals across the valley. Well done, shield. Let’s hope F1 was taking notes for next year’s race.
Winner: Patrick Mahomes
By claiming his third Super Bowl title, Mahomes cemented himself in the upper echelon of all-time great players. His heroics in the fourth quarter and overtime earned him Super Bowl MVP honors, and at age 28, he’s got plenty of time to continue chasing Tom Brady. Mahomes is the undisputed face of the NFL.
Loser: Jackson Mahomes
Ninety-nine percent of the time, it pays to be Patrick Mahomes’ brother. The exception being when you’re trying to get into the VIP section in a Las Vegas club. In a video that went over the weekend, Jackson tried to talk his way past security by mouthing some version of “My brother is Patrick Mahomes.” For once, that didn’t work, and Jackson was rejected. To make matters worse, Patrick’s wife, Brittany Mahomes, was already in the VIP area and did not seem very motivated to help, casually shrugging off Jackson’s struggle before resuming her dance moves. Good for her. Tough look for him.
Winner: Usher and friends
Was Usher the most inspired choice to carry the halftime show at Las Vegas’s first Super Bowl? Debatable. But he pulled out all the stops to make it work.
He played a medley of his biggest hits. He mingled with Vegas showgirls. He left the stage and danced on the grass. He dueted with Alicia Keys. He strapped on roller skates and ditched his shirt. He directed a marching band.
It was a lot. When it came time for the finale, he brought out Lil Jon for a rendition of his most popular song, “Yeah!” Ludacris even made an appearance, and most of Allegiant Stadium rapped along with his iconic verse.
Usher has a reputation as one of the hardest working performers in the music business, and that’s how he won halftime.
Loser: Other cities looking to crack the Super Bowl rotation
Vegas is definitely joining Miami, New Orleans, Southern California and San Francisco as a recurring Super Bowl location.
The 2025 game is going to be in New Orleans, the 2026 contest is in San Francisco, and the 2027 game is in Los Angeles. Don’t be surprised if Las Vegas is immediately back in the mix for a return game before 2030.
If you’re not one of those core cities, good luck fighting for one of the remaining spots in the future.