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Leaving Las Vegas to High Rollers, Some 49ers Fans Chose Reno

Leaving Las Vegas to High Rollers, Some 49ers Fans Chose Reno


Every Super Bowl Sunday, hundreds of gamblers head to the Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, the most important of its form in northern Nevada, to guess on the massive sport and party with fellow soccer followers. High rollers dine on all-you-can-eat buffets and the champagne flows in V.I.P. rooms all through the large advanced. Long strains snake out of the William Hill Sportsbook simply off the on line casino ground.

But the motion this yr was supercharged as a result of the Super Bowl included the San Francisco 49ers and lots of the group’s followers in California, the place sports activities betting remains to be unlawful, crossed the border into Nevada to put down bets and have fun with their brethren.

Some of the followers thought of touring to Las Vegas, the place the Super Bowl was performed for the primary time this yr. But they didn’t need to battle the crowds solely to pay daunting costs for inns and meals. Reno could lack the excitement of Las Vegas, they stated, however the self-proclaimed Biggest Little City within the World had the advantage of being reasonably priced and handy, roughly a four-hour drive from the Bay Area.

“I might have gone to Vegas, however every part’s hiked up there,” stated Daniel Burnett, a 49ers fan from San Francisco who stayed the weekend on the Grand Sierra. “Here, every part’s in a single place.”

Everything, it appears, however a 49ers win. They fell to the Kansas City Chiefs in additional time, 25-22, leaving many San Francisco followers on the on line casino shocked, and some in tears.

Still, it was like Nevada’s Super Bowl overflow party with a decidedly extra low-key vibe. The on line casino inns in Reno would not have the fountains that grace the Bellagio on the Vegas Strip. Few folks come right here for midnight helicopter rides. What occurs in Reno doesn’t all the time keep in Reno. But for regulars like Jacob and Nicole Wood, two Raiders followers who drove 4 hours from Clearlake, Calif., Reno is simply nice.

“No method I’m paying $11,000 for a ticket in Las Vegas,” Mr. Wood stated. He and his spouse, who additionally bets on horseracing and basketball, have watched the Super Bowl in Reno for a dozen years.

In some ways, the Super Bowl highlighted anew the hole between Las Vegas and Reno. Las Vegas is a world leisure capital generally known as the setting for motion pictures just like the “Ocean’s” and “Hangover” franchises. After years of being shunned by skilled sports activities leagues, town is now house to the Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights and the Raiders of the N.F.L.

Reno? Many casinos have shut or merged. Downtown is pockmarked by open heaps. Sports? There’s a Triple A baseball franchise, the Aces, and the National Bowling Stadium.

And whereas Las Vegas continues to market extravagance and extra, Reno, which is lower than one-quarter of the scale, appears ceaselessly at a crossroads. The cities stay rivals, particularly after they battle for funding within the state capital, Carson City, half-hour south of Reno. But when folks consider Nevada, Las Vegas usually springs to thoughts.

“The North-South divide in Nevada could be very ingrained and entrenched,” stated John L. Smith, a longtime journalist from Las Vegas who now lives in Reno. “The South was jealous of the North’s energy. The North was jealous of the South’s pizazz and cash and progress.”

It could also be arduous to ponder, however for a few years Reno was Las Vegas earlier than Las Vegas grew to become Sin City. Founded within the 1860s as a railway hub, town prospered in the course of the silver and gold rushes. Reno grew to become the divorce capital of America as a result of {couples} have been required to stay right here for under six months — lowered in later years to 6 weeks — earlier than benefiting from the state’s liberal guidelines for splitting up.

As divorces flooded in, so did legal professionals and bankers. Hotels, casinos and different leisure institutions sprang up. After playing was legalized statewide in 1931, new guests arrived. Movies that flicked on the metropolis’s divorce business have been filmed in Reno, together with “The Misfits,” starring Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.

But Reno has been a metropolis of transients, and as different states adopted “no fault” divorce legal guidelines, one of many metropolis’s calling playing cards light. By the 1950 census, Las Vegas had surpassed Reno as casinos went up on the Strip, drawing Hollywood entertainers and greater crowds in southern Nevada.

Reno, named for a Civil War common who by no means stepped foot in Nevada, continues to seek for a brand new id. Starting within the Nineteen Eighties, it was hit by a wave of on line casino closures and bankruptcies. The move of gamblers coming right here slowed after Native American casinos opened in California.

Motels and casinos have been knocked right down to make method for redevelopment that has barely begun. Last yr, an overhaul of the previous Harrah’s Reno resort and on line casino stalled, leaving an enormous eyesore. Many of the remaining casinos are windowless, self-contained bubbles which have turned the encompassing streets into uninviting walkways.

“Downtown is at warfare with itself, battling the wants of the casinos for parking and open house geared towards vacationers versus residential mixed-use density,” stated Alicia Barber, a neighborhood historian and creator of “Reno’s Big Gamble: Image and Reputation within the Biggest Little City.” “We’re attempting to determine a way of place.”

Things bought so unhealthy that analysts learning town in 2010 puzzled whether or not Reno might flip into the Detroit of the West by 2020. In December, Allegiant Airlines — whose identify is on the stadium the place the Super Bowl was performed — stated it will now not fly in or out of Reno, leaving simply two airways providing nonstop flights between town and Las Vegas.

In the previous decade or so, Reno has pivoted. Apple, Tesla, Panasonic and different corporations have opened amenities within the space, attracting Californians searching for tech jobs and cheaper properties. The metropolis has marketed its easy accessibility to world-class snowboarding and different out of doors pursuits close to Lake Tahoe.

Reno nonetheless has loads of casinos to attract gamblers from California, Idaho, Utah and different neighboring states the place sports activities betting has not been legalized. None has completed extra to draw these guests than the Grand Sierra, which has a movie show, a bowling alley, evening golf equipment, a 3,000-seat theater and a Charlie Palmer steakhouse.

Chris Abraham, the senior vp of promoting at Grand Sierra, stated the resort places on Super Bowl events yearly, however guests have been up 10 % this yr as a result of the 49ers have been within the massive sport. About 1,600 visitors packed a ballroom and dined on Kansas City barbecue, wings and nachos. Smaller teams paid as much as $2,000 for a desk within the Lex Nightclub.

“Lots of people checked out Las Vegas and stated it was going to be ridiculous there, I can get the identical sort of expertise right here,” Mr. Abraham stated.

As sports activities playing has unfold, the Grand Sierra and Reno have been providing folks extra causes to go to. In 2022, the sports activities guide was refurbished and a Chickie’s & Pete’s sports activities bar opened. The resort will make investments about $1 billion into the 140-acre property over the following decade, together with constructing a ten,000-seat enviornment.

But even with all that but to return, Reno was nonetheless an oasis in contrast with Las Vegas for some followers this yr.

“It feels good however additional good as a result of the 49ers are in it,” Deron Dow, who drove from San Francisco together with his buddy Martha Anaya, stated earlier than the sport.

And it beat paying the costs and preventing the crowds in Las Vegas.

“Vegas would have been method worse,” Mr. Dow stated.

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