For Derek Stevens, the best part about the NFL draft in Las Vegas is the hype.
While it’s great to have hundreds of thousands of fans in southern Nevada this weekend, owner Circa said what really sets the draft apart is the people it brought in — and how they spend their time.
“It’s been a great week for all of our properties,” he said on Friday.
Stevens noted several special events going on in connection with the draft.
“That’s what made things a little different,” he said. “Ten thousand cans of beer, we do it every week. It’s all special occasions and coordination. Lots of big, private dinner parties and chalets ordered at Stadium Swim – there’s a lot of celebrities in town and that makes it really fun for everyone.”
Look no further than Kayvon Thibodeaux, the fifth overall pick drafted by the New York Giants. The former Oregon Ducks rusher was spotted at the rooftop bar Circa, Legacy Club, and Stadium Swim—a six-pool dayclub-like venue with a 143-foot LED screen—to celebrate his draft.
Cheer up fans
Tourists downtown were happy to take part in the hype.
Chaska, Minnesota, resident Ryan Grapentine said he and his friends have been visiting Las Vegas for most of the NFL drafts and were excited when they heard that the actual event would be in Vegas this time. The five Vikings fans were staying at Circa for three days, splitting their time between downtown and the Strip’s NFL Draft Experience events. He said they did not see any celebrities during their stay. But being around other fans was enough.
“All the fans are having so much fun hanging out with, there is a lot of chirping back and forth a lot,” said Grapentine. “We see Packers fans and as Vikings fans, we hate each other but it’s still friendly back and forth banter.”
The effect of the draft can be seen outside the pools and casino floors at Circa and at other casino properties. Many of the tourists strolling the Fremont Street Experience on a Friday afternoon donned the team’s jerseys and shop at sports-related vendors.
BigBallsLasVegas.com, the Fremont Street Experience seller, sells more NFL gear. Medals come in the logos of other leagues, along with decades of honking chickens and giant disco balls, the latter being where the kiosk got its name. But it’s the $54.99 football team necklaces that are capturing the attention of shoppers this week.
“It’s lighter than I could have imagined,” said Jake Klein, a Colts fan who bought the Sports Series.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The large medallions can be removed from the necklace and hung on the wall or used as magnets. Supervisor Ruben Ascencio said the necklace is often a bestseller during the football season as fans travel out of town for Raiders home matches, but is more popular during the draft. The Lions’ gear, in particular, has been a hit this week, he said.
“In the past few days, our sales have gone up significantly,” Asensio said. “We’ve never seen anything like this before but we have our stock here.”
It is this welcoming sports fan that makes Stevens hope for the future growth of the Las Vegas sports market. He said the influence of the Golden Knights and the Conquerors and success in major sporting events demonstrated a strong appetite for the industry coming to southern Nevada.
“I’ve always thought Las Vegas was a market for underserved sports,” Stevens said. “I still believe that Vegas can support more professional teams. Not only with their community in Vegas, but also with the tourism it creates. This is the best city in the world for sports tourism, and that affects jobs and a lot in the community. I don’t want to say it’s here. .still in its infancy for Las Vegas tourism.”