NFL's Roger Goodell praises Las Vegas for transformation

LAS VEGAS -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at a Las Vegas Super Bowl LVIII Host Committee brunch Tuesday, said the gambling mecca's image shift over the past few years helped the city land the league's championship game.

Goodell also touched on other topics such as the game's global appeal in a 25-minute sitdown with Las Vegas Raiders president Sandra Douglass Morgan in an event that also included appearances by other professional sports executives from the UFC, the NHL's Golden Knights, the WNBA's Aces, Formula 1 and the NBA.

"You really have become Sports Town USA," Goodell told the gathering, which included scores of Las Vegas business people. "You really have, and that vision was set out, that vision was clear. We wanted to be a part of it, and I think when that happened, everything seemed to change and the stadium obviously is a key component of that. It's one of the reasons we struggled in Oakland is being able to get a long-term stadium that would work for us. Great news is this is home for us, so we're glad to be here.

"I'm going to credit this community because I think you've changed the city on a global basis. It is an extraordinary entertainment city and I think people see this city in a different way. Sports may be part of that, but we're all part of, I think every one of the sports that are represented here today would say that you've changed that, you've changed that narrative, you've changed that image, you've changed that platform.

"And I think, I probably would not have said 10 years ago, that I would see myself sitting here for a Super Bowl. But I'm not surprised."

While Super Bowl LVIII will be played at the Raiders' Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, it was not that long ago when the city was not allowed to purchase airtime during the Super Bowl to promote itself as a tourist destination because of the negativity associated with Sin City. Now, Goodell said a 30-second television spot will cost "between $6 and $7 million" during the upcoming CBS broadcast.

Raiders owner Mark Davis moved the franchise from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020, and the city has since hosted the Pro Bowl and the NFL draft. Goodell said Davis was asking about the Super Bowl from the start.

"This community has become so much more than just a sports town, so much more that it is really, in many ways. the entertainment capital of the world," Goodell said. "So for us to be able to have that kind of platform, the stadium, obviously it's our stage for the Super Bowl, we saw that almost immediately. As a matter of fact, Mark Davis really from Day 1 said, 'When are we getting the Super Bowl?'

"Literally, I don't think he had even gotten into town yet and he was talking about it. But I think all of our owners at this time understood we were going to be playing a lot of our big events here. The Super Bowl included, right from Day 1.

"Listen, I turn over at night about a lot of things, but not about Las Vegas being able to really pull this off, with really great class."

Asked by Douglass Morgan whether Las Vegas would be in a "rotation" for the Super Bowl, Goodell laughed.

"We don't have a rotation of Super Bowls," he said, "but I have no doubt this is going to be a successful Super Bowl. We'll be back here a lot for Super Bowls."

Raiders owner Mark Davis, meanwhile, told ESPN recently that the Super Bowl being awarded to Las Vegas was "reaffirmation of all the work that we put in to get here, and to actually build something that's world class."

Goodell also spoke of his excitement for flag football to be in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics as well as the international appeal of the NFL.

The NFL held three games in London and two in Germany this season.

"And we're going to have another one next year in a new market," Goodell said.

"We could have sold, over our two games in Germany, 4.5 million tickets for the two games we had in Germany. They sold out in minutes, literally. ... You're going to see a very global NFL, not necessarily with franchises, but maybe like F1, playing games on a global basis. And I see that happening in the next five to 10 years, and we're going to see an expansion [on international games] this year, coming up this season. But I think that's going to continue to accelerate and I think that's going to change the face of the NFL."