Super Bowl in Los Angeles provides learning opportunity for Las Vegas By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports February 9, 2022 at 5:16 pm The December announcement that Las Vegas and its shimmering Allegiant Stadium had been chosen to host Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 was widely heralded as a boon for the economy and yet another sign that the city long snubbed by professional team sports had at last made the grade. That’s something to cheer about, of course. It promises to provide a big economic boost and few places in the world rival Las Vegas when it comes to overdoing a party. But with such a big event comes big challenges, even for a party capital. With that in mind, I think Sunday’s Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles provides leaders in Las Vegas with a prime opportunity to prepare for pro football’s premier event and avoid some of the mistakes being made. From major traffic tie-ups and parking piracy to homeless sweeps, the problems in the runup to Super Bowl LVI are plentiful. Some, such as an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases and a rare excessive heat watch, are harder to plan for. As with so many issues surrounding COVID, critics have seized on California’s mask and vaccine restrictions as signs that SoFi Stadium might not have been the best choice to hold the Big Game. As late as January, more than one major media naysayer was echoing the Fox News line vilifying Los Angeles for its restrictions and surge. Others are still wondering whether the city’s mask mandates can be policed on a day with 70,000 visitors flooding into the area. Although California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were among the politicians photographed maskless at SoFi Stadium for the NFC Championship game, the rules appear to be in effect for everyone else in attendance on Sunday. Other issues certainly could have been handled better, or at least with more awareness of the political optics. In late December, Forbes pegged some of the potential problems inherent in inviting throngs of visitors to a metropolitan area already bursting at the seams. The upside: The event provides a grand reminder that Los Angeles is open for business. “Despite concerns about COVID that extend to NFL teams as well as fans, the Super Bowl may bring 150,000 out-of-towners and $477 million to Los Angeles,” Michael Goldstein wrote. “Preserving the health of residents and visitors during COVID is clearly an issue, as is the readiness of hotels and other tourist infrastructure battered by the pandemic.” Las Vegas’ long suit is that it’s designed to handle crowd surges. Hotels and convention spaces larger than many airports are what we do best. And a crowd of 150,000 is just another good weekend on the Strip. But if local planners take nothing else away from the lesson of Los Angeles, it’s the reminder that now is the best time to redouble efforts to address the issue of homelessness in Southern Nevada. Los Angeles officials were savaged following a recently homeless encampment cleanup, the timing of which made it clear the effort was an attempt to spruce up troubled areas in time for the Big Game. Something about crews in hazmat suits clearing people sleeping on the street next to a sparkling multibillion-dollar football stadium sent the wrong message. “The timing is obvious: L.A. County is having a few hundred thousand guests over in person and more than 100 million guests watching on television,” Joe Concha jabbed in The Hill. “It’s time to clean the neighborhood the way one would meticulously clean a home before the festivities begin. Erase all evidence of a homelessness, drug, and crime crisis that Democratic county and state officials have done little to address.” In short, Las Vegas still has time to get it right. Finally, if you’re like most people, attending the Super Bowl in Los Angeles is out of the question. A recent check of ticket websites showed tickets ranging from $4,500 to $55,000 each — before hefty handling fees. That’s one of the ironies of Las Vegas preparing to host its first Super Bowl. The city has long been the best place to watch the Big Game and there are always plenty of good seats available.