Hosting Las Vegas’ first Super Bowl, and stories from a career in events

With 26 Super Bowls under his belt, and leading the host committee for the Las Vegas Super Bowl, Sam Joffray joined us on #Storyteller to share fascinating stories from a career hosting the biggest events in the country. Don’t miss his connection to Muhammed Ali, the launch of a fully funded SB internship program, and his two key objectives for hosting SB LVIII. 

Heater Fiasco at Super Bowl 48 😅

We hosted in New Orleans in 2013, then handed off the baton to the 2014 host committee from New York. There was a lot of speculation, a lot of media rumbling leading up to that Super Bowl about an outdoor Super Bowl, in New York, it’s going to be miserable. It’s going to be cold.

All the preparations the host committee did that year to try and make sure that everybody was comfortable, that nobody was complaining about the cold, ranged from handing out gloves to doing elaborate set ups for heating. One of those spaces was the auxiliary media area. They installed these very large radiant heaters right above them. The old school ones that lit up red. Ones that you as a kid would look at and go through a cockroach scenario, Right?

It turned out to be a beautiful day. Absolutely gorgeous for kickoff time. It might have been sixties low seventies, but it was way overkill for the gloves, the scarves and the overhead heaters, which nobody thought, can we adjust them up and down or turn them off? They were in an always on, always off scenario, and they had been always on that day. It was cold that morning and I remember the rows of media as they were sitting there trying to work the sweat, just pouring down their their foreheads, sweat dropping on papers. They’re looking up at these heaters that are boiling on them. And at one point, they all started taking their hotdog wrappers that had aluminum foil wrappers and put them over their heads to try and deflect the heat.

So everything that had been done to try and protect the media, to make them safe, to make them comfortable, happy, able to do their jobs, in that one scenario was was a quick scramble to find out how do we turn the heaters off.

Sam Joffray – President & CEO, Las Vegas Super Bowl LVIII Host Committee

Super Bowl Internship Program

We also have a really cool internship program with UNLV that we designed early on in the process. I had budgeted for a semester of paid interns at UNLV, recognizing the fact that for all the other major events of work, we could put out a posting for free internship, unpaid interns for Super Bowl, Final Four, NBA All-Star Game, and you would have a line out the door right?

The problem is that line was always folks that looked a lot like me, or they could afford to do an unpaid internship. So we wanted to address that problem here. I did that one semesters worth of fully paid internships that also paid for all the other expenses someone might incur with their college tuition.

We did a whole budget for that and said, look, I don’t want any intern to feel like they have to make a choice between working at Starbucks and interning for the Super Bowl. Let’s remove all those obstacles, put that in front of the NFL Foundation, and they said, we love that.

We’re giving a voice, giving opportunities. Students might not have been able to afford to do it, so they doubled it and gave us another semester’s worth of funding for that. Then United Way saw it, loved it, tripled it, and gave us another. So long story short, we now have a fully funded internship program that is using paid interns that otherwise might not have gotten the opportunity to work on some.

Sam Joffray – President & CEO, Las Vegas Super Bowl LVIII Host Committee