Lights, camera, action: Las Vegas rolls out red carpet for 49ers, Chiefs ahead of 2024 Super Bowl

Las Vegas transforms Allegiant Stadium into a spectacle as fans get a first look at the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs ahead of the Big Game. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

More than 23,000 fans gather at Allegiant Stadium as Las Vegas kicks off its first Super Bowl week with celebrity performances and fanfare. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS – For most of the years since it was founded in 1905, Las Vegas was barred from hosting professional team sports because of “Sin City’s” status as a gambling mecca.

Gambling has been legal in Nevada since 1931, but as more and more states have legalized sports gambling since the mid-2010s, the stigma surrounding professional sports in Las Vegas has waned.

And Las Vegas is taking full advantage.

In 2017, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights made their debut on the Strip as the city’s first major professional team. Then the NFL’s Raiders decided to relocate from Oakland to the desert a couple years later, moving into sparkling new Allegiant Stadium.

Now, Las Vegas has NHL, NFL and WNBA franchises, has played host to a Formula 1 race and most important of all, it is the site of the 2024 Super Bowl.

“I mean I think it’s sweet, you know to play the first Super Bowl in Las Vegas and make some history and be a part of it for me as like a little kid,” said San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Queen Creek native Brock Prudy. “You want to play in the biggest and sweetest environment. I think this is this is up there. So we played here last year for New Year’s and now we get to play for the Super Bowl. So it’s pretty sweet.”

To commemorate the first night of Super Bowl week and the first Big Game in the city’s history, Las Vegas decided to do what it does best for the event’s opening night: put on a show.

More than 23,000 fans of the 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs packed into Allegiant Stadium Monday to get a first glimpse at their teams before Sunday’s kickoff.

Vegas staples Blue Man Group and “The Beatles LOVE by Cirque Du Soleil” stole the spotlight with entertaining performances before the players took center stage.

The Vegas-style show continued as the 49ers made their way out to talk to the media. UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer received a warm reception as he introduced San Francisco to the crowd.

The cheers escalated as the 49ers walked out onto the field and turned to boos for the Chiefs every time Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce spoke to the crowd.

Brandon Auyick, representing Nevada in the Super Bowl, discusses his journey from local standout to Arizona State and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Brandon Aiyuk, the former Arizona State wide receiver and the only player in this year’s Super Bowl from Nevada, drew a crowd for his ties to Las Vegas.

“It means everything to be here. I’m excited to be home,” Aiyuk said.

Despite all the glitz and glamor that comes with Las Vegas, Chiefs and 49ers players have their focus completely on Super Bowl Sunday. The two teams are staying at hotels at Lake Las Vegas, which is located roughly 25 miles away from Allegiant Stadium.

“I’m pretty locked in on the game,” said Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker.

Even though his sights are set on kicking in the Super Bowl, Butker did admit there was one thing in Las Vegas he wanted to try.

“I told myself that I would go to a buffet,” Butker said. “I’ve only been to Golden Corral buffets so I’ll have to try something cool in Las Vegas.”

Making their fourth Super Bowl appearance in the last five years, the Chiefs are aiming to win back-to-back Super Bowls for the first time since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004, after winning a year ago at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Since most players on the Chiefs were a part of that championship team, they have noticed the differences between the experiences in the two cities.

Chiefs safety Justin Reid mentioned the longer distance between the team hotel and Allegiant Stadium is something he did not anticipate this week.

As anticipation builds for the 2024 Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, a Queen Creek native, and Kansa City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes share the stage at Opening Night. (Photo by Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“You can’t beat a Super Bowl in Vegas, there’s no better place to put one,” Reid said. “We’re a little bit farther away (than last year). I think that is better for our focus on why we are here, which is football on Sunday.”

As the Chiefs answered questions, celebrities from all industries walked around the field asking the players their own questions.

As he does during most of his shows, comedian Bert Kreishcer was shirtless, and Vegas performer Carrot Top did a skit with his signature props. For “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Jimmy Kimmel’s partner Guillermo recorded his annual media day skit that will air on the show in a few days.

In the football world, the hosts of the “Bussin’ With The Boys” podcast, Will Compton and Taylor Lewan, socialized with all the players and other media members. NFL Insider Adam Schefter was also in attendance supporting his daughter, who reports for Nickelodeon.

As Opening Night came to an end and the fans began to file out of the stadium, it became apparent that Las Vegas was far away from its days of not hosting professional sporting events.

“It’s historic that the Super Bowl is happening in Las Vegas. It should be a good week,” Schefter said.

(Video by Lauren Avenatti/Cronkite News)
Lucas Gordon LOO-kiss GORE-din
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Lucas Gordon expects to graduate in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in business and digital audiences. Gordon has interned at The Arizona Republic.

Lauren Avenatti(she/her/hers)
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Lauren Avenatti expects to graduate in December 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism from the Cronkite School and Barrett, The Honors College. Avenatti is interning with FOX Sports in the media operations department.