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After the Raiders landed in Las Vegas, Super Bowl LVIII followed suit


The NFL and the city of Las Vegas have been building a relationship over the past few years, which has culminated in Allegiant Stadium playing host to Super Bowl LVIII this Sunday.

It's a relationship that began because of Mark Davis and the Raiders in 2016. The team's owner put together a plan to build a state-of-the-art stadium near the Las Vegas Strip and relocate his team from Oakland, California. With the help of the NFL and the state of Nevada, he put together an impressive proposal, with NFL owners voting 31-1 in favor of approving the Raiders' relocation to the desert.

Davis knew that a Super Bowl coming to the new stadium would ultimately be inevitable.

"I would give Mark Davis a lot of credit right off the top because I think before Mark even got here, he was talking about a Super Bowl," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said at his annual Super Bowl press conference Tuesday.

"He believed this would be a great Super Bowl location, so when he got the relocation approval that was one of the first things he was talking about, 'When are we going to get a Super Bowl?' I said, 'Mark, we've got to play a regular season game here first.'"

For years, there was some reluctancy over whether professional sports could work in a city like Las Vegas – considering its reputation with gambling – and concerns if sports could captivate the local community.

Since Allegiant Stadium opened its doors in 2020, the results have exceeded expectations. The stadium has won numerous "Best in Las Vegas" awards, along with being named a USA Today 10Best attraction and the Raiders leading the league in ticket revenue in 2021.

Then in December 2021, Davis' vision came to fruition with the announcement of Super Bowl LVIII to be held in Allegiant.

"Two and a half years ago, we got a call. They needed to move the Super Bowl from New Orleans because of the change in the NFL's regular season schedule," said Steve Hill, CEO and President of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). "It gave us the opportunity to step up and this is a city that can make things happen fast and we've done that."

Between the initial Super Bowl announcement in 2021 to now, the NFL has played a role in Las Vegas developing the moniker of "The Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World." Allegiant Stadium hosted the 2022 and 2023 Pro Bowl Games, and the city held its first NFL Draft in 2022, bringing in thousands of fans.

"The Super Bowl is at a different level, it is the pinnacle of sports," Hill said. "But the opportunity to work with the NFL events team, get to know them [and] they get to know us, they understand what this city can do. All of those things were really helpful in us developing a team to come and deliver on the Super Bowl."

With the massive success that came from the previous events, it certainly eased the NFL in the decision to bring the big game to the desert.

"This city provides an incredible high energy atmosphere for events," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events. "[W]e just have great partners here like the Las Vegas Super Bowl Host Committee, the LVCVA and obviously, the Las Vegas Raiders. You can start to see the city fully turning into a Super Bowl town. It's not necessarily the easiest town to take over because of all the activity here, but our partners in Vegas have been tremendous."

The NFL also decided to stay true to Las Vegas with gameday entertainment for the Super Bowl. The national anthem will be performed by Grammy Award-winning artist Reba McEntire, who headlined the highest-grossing country music residency in Las Vegas from 2015-21.

The Apple Music Halftime Show performance will be R&B superstar Usher, who's had nine No. 1 hits on the Billboard 100 in his career. Since 2021, he's had two residencies in Las Vegas.

He views this Super Bowl performance as not just a great way to cap off his time in Las Vegas before he goes on tour, but a full circle moment in his 30-year career.

"I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present which is here in Las Vegas and thinking about where we're heading in the future," Usher said in a press conference Thursday. "I thought about a few moments that were special in dance, I thought about a few moments that I created in Las Vegas. ... For everybody that's heard about my show in Las Vegas, you'll now get a chance to see some of what I did here, but you're going to get the best of it because it's in front of 60,000 people [in the stadium] and hopefully another 180 million people for the world to see."

While many people could've never imagined a Super Bowl being in Las Vegas, that's the reality that's to come on February 11. The singular decision to relocate the Raiders eight years ago has led to this moment where the city will be on showcase to the world.

"This stadium is extraordinary and we're here and we can feel it," said Goodell. "I think they've done an amazing job with that stadium and that's our stage. For us, the stadium is key, the city is key. This city really knows how to put on big events. We've seen that."

Now it's time to simply sit back and enjoy the show, with the hopes the Super Bowl will return to Las Vegas once again in the future.

View director of photography Michael Clemens' best black and white photos from the Raiders' 2023 season.

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