Last Friday, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), chair of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Trade and Export Promotion, led a field hearing that examined ways to attract large sporting and entertainment events to the U.S., with a focus on Las Vegas’ experience, and the impacts that sporting and live entertainment events have on the local economy. Witnesses for the hearing included CEO and President of MGM Resorts International Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Steve Hill, President and CEO of the Vegas Chamber Mary Beth Sewald, and President of the Las Vegas Raiders Sandra Douglass Morgan.
Tourism and Convention
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Las Vegas welcomed 42 million visitors per year. In 2022, that number decreased to about 38.8 million visitors. So far in 2023, Las Vegas has welcomed nearly 20.35 million visitors.
The tourism industry supports about 229,000 director jobs and about 359,000 total jobs in Nevada. Last year, Nevada’s tourism industry supported $12.6 billion in direct wages for employees and had a total wage impact of $20.1 billion.
It is important to support the tourism industry to continue to arrive. The diversification of the tourism industry has accelerated in the past decade. The meetings and trade industry has continued to grow during the pandemic. Las Vegas added 30% of meeting spaces, from 11.5 million square feet to 15 million square feet. Last year, LVCVA secured 14 new trade shows to take place in Las Vegas, in addition to the ones already take place here.
“This city is built as a platform for events,” said Steve Hill, CEO & President of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, “We have been the top trade show city for 27 straight years. We have 42 of the 250 top trade shows. We have three of the top 9 convention centers in United States all in Las Vegas.”
“In a three and a half month stretch from the beginning of November until the middle of February, we will have SEMA here with 160,000 people, and then we will have Formula 1 with similar number of people, the first in season NBA tournament played when we also have the Radio Show, CES (Consumer Electric Show) with 160,000 people, and then we will have the Super Bowl in the middle of February," Hill added.
Brightline West Train
Bill Hornbuckle, CEO and President of MGM Resorts International, mentioned the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the largest long-term infrastructure investment in our nation’s history. He urged policy makers to ensure travel and tourism infrastructure a top priority. More than half of Las Vegas’ visitors arrived by car. Interstate-15 carries about a quarter of the city’s visitors every year.
The $12 billion Brightline West project was mentioned multiple times during the hearing. Last week, Senator Jacky Rosen hosted a press conference last week and urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to award $3.75 billion in federal funding for the high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Southern California. The project is estimated to remove 3 million cars from Interstate-15 annually, reduce more than 400,000 tons of carbon emissions each year, and create 35,000 jobs.
Sports Stadium Industry and Its Economic Impact
Sandra Douglass Morgan, President of Las Vegas Raiders, gave an overview of the attendance and economic impact of the Las Vegas Raiders and Allegiant Stadium.
Since opening in 2021, the Allegiant Stadium welcomed more than 3 million visitors from over 120 countries. Outside of the Raiders games, the number of additional events and concerts grown exponentially from 25 in 2021 to 40 in 2022. As of now, over 30 concerts or events are on the calendar for 2023. These kind of events generated over $29 million in live entertainment tax since 2021. Based on the Allegiant Stadium’s survey, about 89% of stadium attendees said the event they attended was the primary reason why they visited Las Vegas. Last year, the overall attendance at Allegiant Stadium was around 1.7 million.
In addition, the value of the Las Vegas Raiders has increased by 76% over the past three years from $2.9 billion in 2019 to $5 billion in 2022 since the team’s relocation from Oakland, California.
Small Businesses and Community
Vegas Chamber President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald emphasized the important role that small businesses play in Nevada’s economy. The Small Business Administration estimates that Nevada has 283,000 small businesses, employing about 503,000 workers.
Senate Bill 1 passed during the 30th Special Session of the Nevada State Legislature required that at least 15% of the Allegiant Stadium’s project construction would be awarded to local small businesses. 20% of the Allegiant Stadium’s construction was awarded to local businesses with $293 million in contracts awarded to 168 local small businesses. And $80 million was awarded to 41 women and minority-owned businesses.
Since the Allegiant Stadium opened, over 20% of the food and beverage revenue has been generated by local businesses. Through the Las Vegas Raiders’ community benefits agreement, over 60% of the stadium operator employees are minority and female workers on event days.
Next year’s Super Bowl’s Business Connect Program requires the game’s contractors and vendors must be at least 51% minority, women, veteran, LGBTQ+ or disability-owned. This program has already identified approximately 200 small women and minority owned businesses that are pre-qualified as contractors and subcontractors for the game. And since relocating to Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Raiders has given over $7 million to support local causes.