Nov 20, 2023 - Economy

Las Vegas sets its sights on sports domination

Illustration of Vegas welcome sign replaced with a football

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Las Vegas closed out its first Formula One Grand Prix in four decades over the weekend — the latest sign of the city's desire to become the "sports and entertainment capital of the world."

Why it matters: Construction to accommodate the event, which transformed part of the Strip into a track for vehicles racing over 200 miles an hour, disrupted the lives of locals for nearly a year.

  • With eight more facilities planned or proposed, sporting events are expected to drive more headaches and rewards for the city.

Catch up fast: MGM Resorts International claims credit for helping change the Strip when the company opened the T-Mobile Arena, which then became home to the Vegas Golden Knights hockey team, Las Vegas' first professional sports team, CEO Bill Hornbuckle wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

  • The city now also has the WNBA Aces, the NFL's Raiders and coming soon — the Oakland A's of Major League Baseball.
  • Las Vegas was also abuzz earlier this year after hosting the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 and other championship events.
  • But the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling to overturn the ban on national sports betting in 2018 has had the most impact on "the growing acceptance of gaming and ushering in the new era of sports," Hornbuckle wrote.

The big picture: Leagues started to rethink their opposition to Las Vegas sports franchises just as the ruling enabled a different kind of fandom and growth.

  • The number of sports instruction businesses, for example, has grown 156% in the past 10 years, according to research from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
  • Sports betting's rising popularity and the continued frenzy of fantasy football have fueled additional interest in sports and — in turn — back into Las Vegas, Steve Hill, CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, tells CNN.

What to watch: Shaquille O'Neal now says he would want to be part of a long-rumored Las Vegas NBA expansion team.

  • The upcoming Super Bowl will take place in the city on Feb. 11.
  • And love it or hate, the Las Vegas Formula One Grand Prix will be staged annually for the next few years.

Continue reading: Private equity buys into Aston Martin's Formula One team

Go deeper