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Strip resorts expect March to be a slam dunk with big events | Las Vegas Review-Journal
Strip resorts expect March to be a slam dunk with big events | Las Vegas Review-Journal

Pedestrians walk along the Strip outside Caesars Palace on Jan. 26, 2023, in Las Vegas. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The Las Vegas Strip is expected to be madness in March — and only partly because of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

Hotel revenues are projected to hit records as tourists and conventioneers flock to Southern Nevada, several major resort operators on the Strip said during the fourth-quarter earnings call season in February.

“March sets up to be one of the best months that we’ve ever had in Las Vegas,” Caesars Entertainment Inc. CEO Tom Reeg said on the company’s Feb. 21 earnings call.

Craig Billings, CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd., said on the company’s Feb. 8 call that forward-looking indicators showed room bookings were pacing at or above pre-pandemic levels, all while average daily room rates were up.

The special events calendar this month is full of concerts, sporting events and conventions that bolster normal seasonal tourism and meeting levels.

“The calendar in March is positioned to have us have the best hotel revenue month, we believe, in our history,” MGM Resorts International CEO Bill Hornbuckle said during the company’s Feb. 9 call.

Take the first weekend of March alone: A Pac-12 women’s basketball tournament at Michelob Ultra Arena, NASCAR’s Pennzoil 400 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the UFC 285 fight card at T-Mobile Arena are some of the larger events.

A Tuesday morning review of room prices for Friday to Sunday on hotels.com found rates between $164 a night at Circus Circus and $785 at the Four Seasons hotel, not including taxes and fees. Room rates fluctuate based on supply and demand and can still change.

In March 2022, the average daily room rate in the area was $163.14, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. On the Strip, it was $173.63.

Expect similar levels of fandom during the fourth weekend of March. T-Mobile Arena is set to host two rounds of the March Madness’ West regional tournament on March 23 and 25. Across the highway, Taylor Swift is scheduled to perform the third and fourth shows of her tour on March 24 and 25 to sold-out crowds at the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium.

The most affordable room for a four-night stay between March 23 and March 26 is $122 at Circus Circus. The average available rate was about $350 for the 40 properties listed on hotels.com.

Midweek occupancy is expected to help the month out, too. March Madness’ first week of games — when fans may come to Las Vegas to wager and watch — falls during the construction trade show ConExpo-Con/Agg.

The once-every-three-year show was the last show in the Las Vegas Convention Center before pandemic-related lockdowns began in 2020.

That show, which in previous years drew about 130,000 attendees, appears to be the primary driver of rates between March 14 and 18.

Off-Strip options were the most affordable, such as $271 a night at Santa Fe Station, not including taxes and fees. Circus Circus, with its proximity to the convention center, offers rates for $400 nightly. Luxury properties such as the Aria, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore all offered rooms between $889 and $1,919 a night.

The last week of the month will continue the streak with three trade shows at the convention center: Bar & Restaurant Expo and co-located International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center starting on March 28 and the Amusement Expo International beginning on March 29.

Some industry watchers were not surprised by the operators’ expectations for the end of the first quarter. While March is traditionally a convention-heavy month, increasing sports tourism and the presence of the infrequent ConExpo-Con/Agg show are bound to have an effect, said Brendan Bussmann, managing partner of Las Vegas-based B Global.

“If you borrow the old lion and lamb saying as it relates to March, I have no doubt that it can roar in like a lion and probably roar out like a lion as well based off of what I’ve seen,” Bussmann said.

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

This content was originally published here.