Jewish Owner Brings Super Bowl to Vegas

Jewish Owner Brings Super Bowl to Vegas

The Las Vegas Raiders owner, Marc Davis, helped bring the vaunted annual extravaganza to Sin City.

The site of Super Bowl LVIII, Allegiant Stadium, was a spectacle in and of itself // Photo Credit: Michael Clemens/Las Vegas Raiders
The site of Super Bowl LVIII, Allegiant Stadium, was a spectacle in and of itself // Photo Credit: Michael Clemens/Las Vegas Raiders

This year’s Super Bowl – a Kansas City Chiefs 25-22 win over the San Francisco 49ers that now stands as the most watched telecast of all time – drew 123.7 million viewers for a few core reasons, one being its first-ever Las Vegas setting. And the person most singlehandedly responsible for Super Bowl LVIII being played out in Vegas was Raiders’ principal owner, Mark Davis, son of the late iconic and controversial owner, Al Davis.

When Al Davis, a longtime member of Beth Jacob Congregation, a Modern Orthodox synagogue in Oakland, who went “to temple four times a year to pray for his [deceased] father,” according to a 1981 People magazine article, passed away on Yom Kippur 2011, he left behind a rather complicated legacy for, among other reasons, having infamously sued the NFL over his Raiders being jettisoned from Los Angeles to Oakland back in the mid-’90s. In stepped his son, Mark, who doesn’t exactly lack bravado either, but is on far better terms with the commissioner’s office, a dynamic that factored heavily into the NFL looking favorably on his impassioned bid to host the Super Bowl.

From the moment it was announced in March 2017 that the Raiders were bound for the 24/7 neon flashing lights of Las Vegas, which followed years of fruitless efforts to build a new stadium in Oakland, Mark made it abundantly clear that he wanted his team’s future home of Allegiant Stadium to play host to the marquee event of North American professional sports.

“He [Mark Davis] 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?’” Commissioner Roger Goodell said at the beginning of Super Bowl week during his state-of-the-NFL press conference. “I said ‘Mark, we’ve got to play a regular season game here first.”

The first regular season game at the stadium, monikered “The Death Star” for its imposing darkness and home team’s bold personality, was played on Sept. 21, 2020 … without a single fan in attendance. But a year later, at the conclusion of the back-to-normal 2021 season during which locals and tourists packed Allegiant Stadium every Sunday, Davis got his wish as the 2024 Super Bowl was awarded to Sin City.

From the moment the Raiders committed to moving to Las Vegas, the team’s principal owner, Mark Davis, was adamant about the city hosting a Super Bowl // Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

“I’m absolutely thrilled,” Davis told reporters in December 2021 when the official announcement was made. “It’s just a confirmation of what we have done so far. The building that we built is absolutely magnificent. The city is absolutely magnificent. I’m just so excited that these things have come to fruition.”

By all accounts, Las Vegas and Allegiant Stadium, which cost nearly $2 billion to construct (approximately $750 million of public money was used to finance it) and lies adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, made for an impressive host setting.

“This stadium is extraordinary and we’re here and we can feel it …  and that’s our stage,” Goodell also told reporters. “For us, the stadium is key, the city is key. This city really knows how to put on big events. We’ve seen that.

“I couldn’t think of a negative thing about it. I think Las Vegas has also done an extraordinary job with the ability to host these big events, the ability to attract people here for a lot more than what people used to [come for]. People used to say this was just a gambling town. This is an entertainment town. This is a sports town. It’s an event town. We’re seeing that in the Super Bowl.”

For Davis, not everything about the first Vegas Super Bowl went according to plan. The temperature was unseasonably cool – rarely an issue when the host city is Miami or Los Angeles – and the two participants were ironically deep-seated rivals of the Raiders franchise: the Chiefs have been a longtime AFC West nemesis while the 49ers and Raiders vied for Bay Area supremacy for decades. Still, for the Raiders owner, it was hard not to be in high spirits with Vegas being at the epicenter of the sporting world for the first half of February.

“There is no question Las Vegas is the best city for infrastructure for a Super Bowl,” the 68-year-old scion of the Davis family, who also owns the two-time defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces and will soon be officially introducing Tom Brady as a Raiders limited partner, told The Mercury News the week of the Super Bowl. “The people here really know what to do, how to put on one-off events like they did with Formula I a month-and-a-half ago. It’s quite an undertaking, but it’s not just the local community that does the lifting. The NFL comes in with an army for Super Bowls. There’s a lot of things the host team does, but the majority is the Las Vegas Convention Bureau and the NFL putting the actual nuts and bolts together.”

Upcoming Super Bowls are slated to be held in New Orleans, Santa Clara, and Los Angeles. But because this year’s location drew overall high praise, it certainly seems that Las Vegas – just like Atlanta – is a strong candidate to host the game again before the end of the decade.

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