Playing the long game: Colossal sporting events will push Las Vegas forward

“When you have 40 million visitors, there’s always externalities–environmental, transportation, public safety, health,” says economist Andrew Woods, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research. “That is just the nature of [growth]. … We do need to have a conversation about the transportation we have, and are we giving enough choice and options so that we can host bigger and bigger events? We [also] have to make sure our workers can efficiently get to and from work … and be able to take our kids to school at the same time.”

It’s a conversation worth having, if we want this town to continue working for residents and visitors just as well as it does for major sporting events. But it’s a conversation more relevant to Formula 1 than the Super Bowl, Woods adds.

“With F1, it was a huge giant construction of a track, and they had never done something like that before on their own. And it was certainly a learning experience for all of us,” he says.

Although there are valid frustrations at the growing pains that come with accommodating bigger and bigger events, Woods says there’s no question that events like Formula 1 and the Super Bowl benefit the local economy.

“One in four jobs in Southern Nevada are tied to leisure and hospitality. One in $3 that is generated in Southern Nevada are tied to leisure and hospitality … About half of the state budget is dependent on some sort of tourism-related tax,” Woods explains. “We need these visitors to come and spend their money because that helps pay for public education and transportation, [etcetera].”

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