Las Vegas Mainstays and New Entrants Keep the Group Market Rolling in 2022
Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones Performs in Las Vegas. Credit: Allegiant Stadium.
“Who knew that paradise looked like this?” said Mick Jagger exuberantly to the crowd during last November’s sold-out Rolling Stones concert at Allegiant Stadium, referring to the venue’s location, along with the Strip, in census-designated Paradise, Nevada.
The $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium has proven heavenly for events. Garth Brooks sold out in 75 minutes as the venue’s first major act in 2020. Last August, the Concacaf Gold Cup Final between the U.S. and Mexico was the fastest sellout in the soccer tournament’s history. This April, Korean boy band BTS sold out four consecutive Allegiant shows in 90 minutes. Fans ranked the stadium first for gameday satisfaction in the NFL’s “Voice of the Fan” survey.
Since July 2021, more than one million people have attended an Allegiant event, including Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV football games. Coming from all U.S. states and 91 different countries, 86% indicated that they came to Vegas specifically for their event.
Vegas’ multi-dimensional magnetism is equally a siren call for groups. Attendance numbers for meetings, conventions and tradeshows are fast approaching pre-pandemic levels, with a commensurate boost in midweek bookings and room rates. Arrivals by air were up 89% in Q1 2022 over Q1 2021.
With the Stones’ 1978 classic “Miss You” on the set list, guitarist Keith Richards offered this heartfelt message to the crowd: “Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to thank you all…it’s great to get back together again.” After hanging on for so long, Vegas is rocking again—satisfaction guaranteed.
[Related: Meetings Today LIVE! Scores a Touchdown With Closing Event at Allegiant Stadium]
Vegas Dominates the Playing Field
This March, Vegas, billed as “The Greatest Arena on Earth” in the LVCVA’s latest national marketing campaign, amplified its preeminence as a sports-centric destination by hosting the 2022 NFL Draft.
Held at Caesars Forum with programming around town, including the floating Red Carpet stage in the Fountains of Bellagio lake, the nationally televised three-day extravaganza, deemed “better than perfect” by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, contributed to record visitation and room revenue.
In February 2024, Allegiant Stadium hosts Super Bowl LVIII, marking the big game’s first time in Vegas. As the Las Vegas Raiders aim for glory at home, groups can immerse in the Silver & Black experience at the team’s official headquarters hotel, M Resort Spa Casino in Henderson.
Offering elevated Strip and valley views, the 390-room Forbes Four-Star oasis features the event-capable Raiders Tavern & Grill. Planners also have 92,000 square feet of dynamic space, along with a 100,000-square-foot pool and events piazza. M Resort is also official team headquarters of minor-league hockey’s Vegas Silver Knights, who play at the new $84 million, 6,000-seat Dollar Loan Center in Henderson.
Last held 40 years ago in the Caesars Palace parking lot, Formula 1 racing returns in November 2023 with the Las Vegas Grand Prix. Drivers are scheduled to lap a nearly four-mile loop along and behind the Strip at speeds exceeding 212 miles per hour.
The Oakland Athletics seem increasingly intent on relocating to Vegas and building a new $1 billion, 30,000-seat ballpark near the Strip corridor.
Wes Edens, co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks and English Premier League football club Aston Villa, is eyeing Vegas for a Major League Soccer franchise. The Las Vegas Desert Dogs, co-owned by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, are the latest expansion team of the National Lacrosse League.
Following the WNBA’s Aces, prospects for an NBA team heated up this March when Oak View Group, a global leader in stadium and arena development, announced plans for a $3 billion sports and entertainment complex three miles south of Mandalay Bay. The privately financed project includes a 20,000-seat NBA-ready arena.
This April, Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Golden Nugget in Downtown Las Vegas, announced plans to develop a high-end casino between Planet Hollywood and MGM Grand.
On the entertainment front, the MSG Sphere at the Venetian is poised to launch concert-goers and other guests into new orbits. Slated for 2023, the multi-purpose venue will redefine multi-sensory possibilities with features including an exterior LED display that will be visible from space.
New immersive group experiences at the AREA15 art, events and entertainment district include LIFTOFF, a 16-seat gondola that takes riders up a 130-foot-tall triple-helix tower for 360-degree panoramic views of the Strip, while rave-reviewed Lost Spirits Distillery offers fantastical dining and live performance experiences.
Across from T-Mobile Arena, FlyOver Las Vegas is a mind-blowing group-capable flying ride. The experience of soaring like an eagle over spellbinding Icelandic and Wild West landscapes filmed from a helicopter is exhilarating beyond words.
[Related: Fontainebleau Las Vegas Set to Open in Late 2023]
New Faces, New Places
With more than $4.5 billion in investments projected over the next two years—including 7,000 new hotel rooms and 791,000 square feet of additional convention space—new players, ownership changes and upgrades are expanding overnight and meeting options destination-wide.
Native American operators have entered the Vegas market in a historic way. Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment opened the tribal account last year as the casino operator at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Last December, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, owners of Hard Rock International, acquired The Mirage from MGM Resorts. Redevelopment plans include adding the brand’s signature guitar-shaped hotel.
After acquiring the COVID-shuttered Palms Casino Resort last year from Red Rock Resorts for $650 million, Southern California’s San Manuel Band of Mission Indians relaunched the off-Strip resort this April to become the first-ever tribal owner-operator in town. Rentals at the 766-room Vegas fixture include the existing 2,500-seat Pearl Theater and 55th-floor Ghost Bar nightclub, both slated to reopen this summer, and Fantasy Tower’s retractable-roof Moon & View venue.
Downtown developments include 35,000 square feet of new customizable group space at Circa Resort & Casino, slated for this September.
On the Strip, where Caesars Entertainment is rebranding Bally’s Las Vegas as Horseshoe Las Vegas and Wynn Resorts has completed a $200 million refresh of all 2,700 rooms and suites, plus new cocktail lounge concepts and other amenities, operators are looking brightly ahead.
“This is a new era for SAHARA Las Vegas,” said Christopher Bond, vice president of sales. “Neither the old Sahara nor the SLS, we are completely new luxury boutique hotel that is a hidden gem for corporate groups.”
Concentrated efforts to change perception of the 1957 Rat Pack-era icon are paying off.
“Our focus on in-house corporate business is producing strong booking lead volume, much of it near-term,” Bond continued. “Zoom and Teams meetings can only go so far. Demand for face-to-face meetings is driving strong interest levels, which makes me very optimistic about the future.”
“Our bookings forecast is about 70% of where we were in 2019,” said Don Voss, vice president of hotel sales and marketing at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, which turns 30 next year. “TI remains one of the Strip’s most flexible and convenient options for groups. Depending on additional domestic and international airlift as well as economic conditions for certain market segments, we foresee a return to 2019 group volumes by next year.”
Gavin Mealiffe, vice president of sales for Tropicana Las Vegas – a DoubleTree by Hilton is similarly encouraged. “We have seen definite improvement in 2022 as we welcome groups of all sizes. Increasing lead volume is a great sign for future opportunities and we have also seen great compression over sporting event weekends and concert series.”
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