Football Sports

Leaving Las Vegas to Excessive Rollers, Some 49ers Followers Selected Reno

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Each Tremendous Bowl Sunday, hundreds of gamblers head to the Grand Sierra Resort and On line casino, the biggest of its variety in northern Nevada, to wager on the large sport and get together with fellow soccer followers. Excessive rollers dine on all-you-can-eat buffets and the champagne flows in V.I.P. rooms all through the huge complicated. Lengthy strains snake out of the William Hill Sportsbook simply off the on line casino ground.

However the motion this 12 months was supercharged as a result of the Tremendous Bowl included the San Francisco 49ers and most of the staff’s followers in California, the place sports activities betting continues to be unlawful, crossed the border into Nevada to put down bets and rejoice with their brethren.

A number of the followers thought of touring to Las Vegas, the place the Tremendous Bowl was performed for the primary time this 12 months. However they didn’t need to battle the crowds solely to pay daunting costs for motels and meals. Reno could lack the thrill of Las Vegas, they stated, however the self-proclaimed Largest Little Metropolis within the World had the advantage of being reasonably priced and handy, roughly a four-hour drive from the Bay Space.

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

All the things, it appears, however a 49ers win. They fell to the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs in time beyond regulation, 25-22, leaving many San Francisco followers on the on line casino surprised, and some in tears.

Nonetheless, it was like Nevada’s Tremendous Bowl overflow get together with a decidedly extra low-key vibe. The on line casino motels in Reno don’t 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. However for regulars like Jacob and Nicole Wooden, two Raiders followers who drove 4 hours from Clearlake, Calif., Reno is simply wonderful.

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

In some ways, the Tremendous Bowl highlighted anew the hole between Las Vegas and Reno. Las Vegas is a global leisure capital referred to as the setting for films just like the “Ocean’s” and “Hangover” franchises. After years of being shunned by skilled sports activities leagues, the town is now residence 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 tons. Sports activities? There’s a Triple A baseball franchise, the Aces, and the Nationwide 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 Metropolis, half-hour south of Reno. However when folks consider Nevada, Las Vegas sometimes 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 might be arduous to ponder, however for a few years Reno was Las Vegas earlier than Las Vegas grew to become Sin Metropolis. Based within the 1860s as a railway hub, the 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 dwell right here for under six months — lowered in later years to 6 weeks — earlier than making the most of the state’s liberal guidelines for splitting up.

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

However 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 pale. 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 Warfare normal who by no means stepped foot in Nevada, continues to seek for a brand new id. Beginning within the Nineteen Eighties, it was hit by a wave of on line casino closures and bankruptcies. The circulate of gamblers coming right here slowed after Native American casinos opened in California.

Motels and casinos have been knocked right down to make means for redevelopment that has barely begun. Final 12 months, an overhaul of the previous Harrah’s Reno lodge and on line casino stalled, leaving a large eyesore. Lots of the remaining casinos are windowless, self-contained bubbles which have turned the encircling streets into uninviting walkways.

“Downtown is at conflict 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 Large Gamble: Picture and Repute within the Largest Little Metropolis.” “We’re making an attempt to determine a way of place.”

Issues bought so unhealthy that analysts finding out the town in 2010 wondered whether Reno could turn into the Detroit of the West by 2020. In December, Allegiant Airways — whose title is on the stadium the place the Tremendous Bowl was performed — stated it could now not fly in or out of Reno, leaving simply two airlines offering nonstop flights between the city and Las Vegas.

Prior to now decade or so, Reno has pivoted. Apple, Tesla, Panasonic and different corporations have opened services within the space, attracting Californians in the hunt for tech jobs and cheaper houses. Town 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 executed extra to draw these guests than the Grand Sierra, which has a movie show, a bowling alley, night time golf equipment, a 3,000-seat theater and a Charlie Palmer steakhouse.

Chris Abraham, the senior vp of selling at Grand Sierra, stated the resort places on Tremendous Bowl events yearly, however guests have been up 10 p.c this 12 months as a result of the 49ers have been within the massive sport. About 1,600 company packed a ballroom and dined on Kansas Metropolis 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 e-book 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 subsequent decade, together with building a 10,000-seat arena.

However even with all that but to return, Reno was nonetheless an oasis in contrast with Las Vegas for some followers this 12 months.

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

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

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