Two weekends of big-budget international soccer matches kick off on Saturday, along with the tourism and economic boom that comes with them.
Research from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has revealed that the first game, to be played between Chelsea FC and Club América, could attract 46,000 out-of-town visitors to southern Nevada this weekend. . It is expected to have an impact of $69 million.
It’s for one game. July 22 and 23 mark the start of the Soccer Champions Tour, a series of exhibition matches across four cities hosted by live event promoter AEG, with the first two taking place at Allegiant Stadium.
The July 22 event consists of one of the biggest football events in the world: the match between international giants Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. “El Clásico”, as the match is known, was last held in North America in 2017 at Hard Rock Stadium in South Florida.
The convention authority estimates that the two Soccer Champions Tour games will draw 90,000 out-of-town visitors and generate at least $137 million in economic spinoffs.
“Events like what’s happening at Allegiant Stadium this weekend really reinforce Vegas’ evolution to become ‘the greatest arena in the world,'” said Lori Nelson-Kraft, senior vice president of communications for the LVCVA. . “These events are essential to generate additional visits at certain times. We really want to make sure that we fill the hotel rooms and the destination.
Las Vegas the “obvious” choice
Live event promoters are drawn to Las Vegas more than ever. Tom Braun, AEG’s senior vice president of football, business operations and business development, said the city was a natural fit for an event of this scale. Allegiant has what it takes for an international game: capacity, amenities, broadcast possibilities and a roof to shade during the summer game.
“The attraction for the city is obvious. It’s Las Vegas,” Braun said. “It’s a wonderful city to host international football and happens to have one of the most beautiful venues in the world.”
The convention authority spent $425,000 to sponsor Saturday’s game and $750,000 to sponsor the two AEG Tour games. Nelson-Kraft said it was an investment to bring more sports entertainment to the market – similar to the $19.5 million sponsorship deal he struck for three annual races Formula 1.
“These sponsorships give us increased visibility in front of key sporting audiences with the publicity, marketing and hospitality opportunities we get before, during and after the event,” she said. “We are able to amplify the Las Vegas experience in both directions.”
In the last fiscal year, the 14 new sporting events sponsored by the authority generated 850,000 additional nights in Las Vegas, which means booking made specifically for the event, he said.
This is partly why promoters are eager to take advantage of tourists’ willingness to attend special events. Nick Baker, chief operating officer of AEG Global Partnerships, said there was a lot of demand from delighted audiences looking for live experiences.
“It’s clear that consumption for ‘live’ has never been better,” Baker said. “I think part of that is because he was taken away from us during (the pandemic). Now the opportunity to go see El Clásico in person, people are jumping on it. This is an opportunity they are not going to take for granted.
This extends beyond Nevada or the United States. People from all over North America bought tickets for AEG games.
It’s good for Las Vegas and other host cities – San Francisco, Los Angeles and Dallas this year. Research by the LVCVA indicates that 50% of Las Vegas visitors are willing to add a trip or stay longer to attend a sporting event and will spend approximately $1,100 more in town for the event.
“There’s definitely a tourism component to it,” Baker said. “You are going to participate in the game, but there are other activities in and around the city that attract you. The broad reach of ticket buyers is going to be, truly, international appeal as we host them on national sites.
The next expected football matches
AEG plans to hold more exhibition games in Las Vegas over the next few years, including making Soccer Champions an annual tour. Encouraged by the success of the Golden Knights in the NHL, the Raiders in the NFL, past football games such as the Gold Cup Finals in 2021 and other local teams, AEG executives expect that there is a lot of potential for more teams and special sporting events.
“It’s a professional sports city, and people want to go there — people who live there want to see professional sports, people want to go there to see professional sports,” Braun said. “It’s a mix of a lot of reasons but who wouldn’t want to go to Vegas to watch international football?”
The games are a positive sign for Brett Lashbrook, owner of United Soccer League’s Lights FC who play at Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas. He sees the attention of sports fans as an opportunity for all levels of soccer — kids’ teams, the Lights and USL and even a future MLS team — to grow in the region.
“It’s the most popular sport in the world in the most entertaining city in the world and the most capitalist market in the world,” Lashbrook said. “There is room for all of us, especially in the sport of soccer, which continues to grow year after year, decade after decade. This is just the next iteration of that growth and it’s exciting to see the sport grow here locally.
McKenna Ross is a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. Contact her at email@example.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.