Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee shifts into high gear

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee announced several events connected to Super Bowl LVIII.

LAS VEGAS — That was some pep rally they threw at the Vu Studios Wednesday morning.

The Super Bowl is 172 days away. For Las Vegas, the game’s host committee is about to shift gears into overdrive and get their years of planning to become reality.

The NFL’s marquee event stopped being just a football game decades ago. It is an extravaganza, a confluence of events culminating in a game. And when Super Bowl LVIII kicks off on the afternoon of Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium, more than 400 million viewers will be tuning in to see if all the hype about Vegas being the place to party is legit (hint: it is).

“We couldn’t buy this kind of opportunity any other way,” said Steve Hill, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.  

Indeed. It wasn’t that long ago the NFL wouldn’t allow the LVCVA to advertise on the Super Bowl telecast. Now, Las Vegas will be the first city to have hosted the NFL’s “Holy Trinity” — the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the Draft.

So the bar is set pretty high. Even for Las Vegas, which has showed it can do big events.

The rollout of events for Super Bowl week in Vegas were announced, including the Feb. 5 Opening Night at Allegiant Stadium which used to be Media Day, then Media Night. There’s the week-long Super Bowl Experience, which will be at Mandalay Bay Convention Center. There’ll be the Soulful Celebration at The Palms on Feb. 7, The Super Bowl Breakfast at Caesars Palace and the Taste of the NFL at the Keep Memory Alive Event Center, located at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, an amazing facility both inside and out, both scheduled for Feb. 10.

As the speakers spoke Wednesday, the theme was two words — “Community” and “Legacy.”

Sam Joffray, President and CEO of the Las Vegas Super Bowl LVIII Host Committee, said it was important for the game’s outreach to extend beyond the Strip and to North Las Vegas, to Henderson, to Summerlin and other parts of the valley. It’s going to be about giving hundreds of local businesses a chance to be part of the experience and benefit from the economic impact the game is expected to generate in Southern Nevada to the tune of    an estimated $700 million to as much as $1 billion.

“I’ve had a chance to get out in the community and see things that I didn’t know existed,” said Joffray, who is from New Orleans and helped put on eight Super Bowls in that city, along with the NBA All-Star Game and even Wrestlemania. “What impressed me was how vibrant the community is and how everyone wants to be part of the Super Bowl.

“We felt it was important to plug in to that energy and be all-inclusive, not just for the businesses, but for people who want to volunteer their time and help.”

It took Joffray a while to learn the geography of Southern Nevada and what surprised him were the number of choices the committee had available to it when it came time to select the various sites for Super Bowl events. 

“I had no idea there were so many choices,” he said. “In New Orleans, I knew where everything would fit. Here, I’d have four or five options. That was different.”

Joffray and his staff of 14 have been planning since the game was awarded to Las Vegas in 2021. And after hundreds of meetings and exchanging ideas and coming up with a plan that the NFL is comfortable with, the true heavy lifting is about to begin, though Joffray will tell you they’ve been toting that barge and lifting that bale for some time now.

“We’re close to pencil down on ideas,” he said. “We’re close to executing those plans.”

The tasks are myriad, from the minute to the massive. There’s security for the teams, officials and fans that falls to numerous agencies. There’s traffic, both auto and pedestrian. There’s the individual events, each which produces their own unique set of challenges. And everything is expected to come off without a hitch.

“The smartest decision we made was hiring this guy,” Hill said, pointing to Joffray.

Perhaps. But each Super Bowl is unique, regardless of how often a city hosts it. And for Las Vegas, which has been the second-most popular place after the game itself for football fans to congregate annually, hosting the game itself figures to be a challenge unlike any other.

Yes, the city is used to hosting big sporting events. The Formula 1 race in November is going to be massive. And while Las Vegas has hosted a Stanley Cup and WNBA Championship parade in the last year and an NCAA men’s basketball regional back in March and with the Final Four coming here in 2028, this is different. 

Remember when the NBA All-Star Weekend was held here in 2007 and the chaos in restaurants, bars and clubs with service workers being stiffed, acts of rowdiness and public urination on the streets a shooting outside a club and things beyond the NBA’s control? Will things be different this time? Will Vegas have learned so history doesn’t repeat itself?

I’d like to think it will. Because part of the legacy expected to come from the Super Bowl being here is that it will return here in a few years. If a repeat of what took place in 2007 happens next February, you can make book that the NFL will take the Super Bowl elsewhere. 

I’m betting on Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, the former Sheriff for Clark County, will see to it that visitors are safe and any incidents will be handled swiftly and professionally.

For this community, the legacy has to be more than just the NFL building a football field for the Pop Warner League, doing a Green environmental initiative in a neighborhood that can use some trees and having players show up at a food bank hand out boxes of groceries to those who are food insecure.      

No, there has to be a lasting impact, one that we can look at a generation from now and say, “Remember how the NFL came through for us when Vegas hosted the Super Bowl in ’24?”

That is going to be the true challenge for the host committee and the league. Let’s hope Joffray and his team can deliver on that promise that this will be the best Super Bowl ever.