Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013 | 2 a.m.
While the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers spend the week practicing for the Super Bowl in New Orleans, Las Vegas businesses are gearing up for a super Sunday of their own.
To meet the increased demand for pizza, chicken wings and beers, local bars, restaurants and liquor stores are stocking up while local law enforcement agencies plan to step up enforcement on game day to crack down on drunken driving. Casinos are setting the stage for massive Super Bowl parties, and even wastewater treatment workers have made special preparations to handle a literal surge in activity.
It's going to be a hectic day in Las Vegas — even by Vegas standards. To help local residents form a game plan to cope with the crowds, here are some tips, hints and facts.
No Super Bowl party is complete without some food, and for many Las Vegans, pizza is the top choice.
Pizza orders for game day have been coming into Metro Pizza for weeks, owner John Arena said, and the company expects to see a 30 percent increase in business across its five locations on Sunday.
The Super Bowl provides a unique challenge because most customers want to pick up their food within a two-hour window, but Metro Pizza’s oven can only churn out pies so fast, Arena said.
“Most people want to pick it up an hour before the game, which gives them time to get home, get set up and watch some of the pregame,” Arena said.
To make sure you can pick up your pizza at the time you want, Arena advised calling in as soon as possible to place an order. That means now. Metro began taking orders two weeks ago for pizzas to be baked and picked up on Sunday, when batches of pies will be produced every 15 minutes. Those slots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and the window is closing.
“The prime spots are filling up,” he said.
Arena estimated the company would sell more than 1,000 pizzas on Sunday, enough to feed more than 3,000 people. But that won’t be the busiest day Metro Pizza sees this year.
“This is a tremendous weekend for us,” he said, “but in spite of that, our busiest day of the year is Valentine’s Day.”
Not so for Papa Murphy's, a national chain offering pizzas that customers bake at home. The restaurant company listed its top five days for pizza sales as, in order, Super Bowl Sunday, New Year's Eve, Halloween, the night before Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Papa Murphy's, the nation's fifth-largest pizza chain, said it would go through nearly 16,000 gallons of sauce, more than 7 million slices of pepperoni and more than 119 tons of shredded mozzarella cheese to serve its Super Bowl Sunday customers.
Beer, beer and more beer
During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, customers tend to buy a variety of wines, spirits and beers, Lee’s Discount Liquor Vice President and General Manager Scott Hanning said.
But for Super Bowl Sunday, shoppers tend to have only one thing on their mind: beer.
“People buy lots of beer,” Hanning said. “It’s a mass consumption holiday. People buy kegs; people fill their bath tubs with ice and cans of beer.”
Hanning said the Big Three beer brands — Coors, Budweiser and Miller — will dominate sales, along with such imports as Corona and Heineken. Lee's has been getting extra shipments to prepare for the beer rush, and customers can expect to see lots of beer displays throughout stores.
“It’s a good time to buy beer. This is a weekend when you see beer prices at some of their lowest,” he said. “Everybody cuts their prices on beer and none of us make any money. We just make friends this week.”
Hanning estimated that Lee’s 17 stores across the valley would sell 235,000 cans of beer this weekend.
After all that beer — or soda, sports drinks and other refreshments — football fans may find themselves in need of a bathroom break. Not wanting to miss any of the game, many strategically time their breaks to commercials or halftime, leading to a large spike in wastewater needing treatment by the valley’s water infrastructure.
“We have flow charts that show us what the flow (rate) is for a certain period of time,” said Henderson treatment process manager Howard Analla. “You can just tell, right before the game starts, there’s a peak. Everyone runs to the bathroom and then it drops off. You can tell when halftime starts because there’s another peak that lasts for half an hour or so.”
Analla said Henderson’s wastewater treatment facilities will treat about 30 million gallons that day, up from an average of 24 million per day.
“We’ve got extra tanks that will take that high peak off and we can bring it back to the plant when needed,” he said.
By the numbers
The big game means big business for Las Vegas hotels and casinos.
An estimated 311,000 people are expected to visit Las Vegas this weekend, many to watch and wager on the Super Bowl, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
The LVCVA predicts the city’s room-occupancy rate will be at 91.5 percent for the weekend, a slight increase from last year’s Super Bowl.
All told, the influx of football fanatics is expected to generate about $106.8 million in economic impact, the LVCVA said.
The weekend could also boost the bottom lines for sports books around the state. Last year, sports books netted $6.1 million combined off of a total $93.9 million wagered on the Super Bowl state-wide.
The house has made money on the Super Bowl five of the last six years, the exception coming in 2008, when the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots, ruining the Patriot’s undefeated season and handing sports books a $2.6 million loss.
In on the action
There's a theory that Las Vegas sports books aren't crowded on Super Bowl Sunday because there's relatively little betting action outside the game and a lot of people go to parties at casinos and homes.
Baloney, said Wynn race and sports book executive director Johnny Avello.
Anyone planning to watch the game at the Wynn sports book should plan to get there sometime in the morning if they want any shot at getting a seat, he said.
“The sports book is the best place to watch (the Super Bowl). The problem is they’re tight,” Avello said. “It’s the best place to watch because everybody in the room has action on the game. When you have a bet on something, your whole level of interest is raised.”
So far, betting on the point spread has tilted toward the Ravens, who were four-point underdogs to the 49ers as of Tuesday afternoon, Avello said.
Gamblers looking to make one of the hundred-plus bets offered on the game by the Wynn should expect 15- to 20-minute lines on Sunday, Avello said.
“If you don’t mind waiting in line, having a drink and conversing with others, it’s fun,” he said. “If you don’t like lines, get your bet in today.”
Police on the prowl
Police are urging residents to make a designated driver part of any party plans that involve alcohol.
Several local law enforcement agencies are stepping up drunken-driving enforcement valleywide through DUI saturation patrols on Sunday after the game.
“After the Super Bowl gets out, we have a normal increase in traffic accidents because there’s a whole lot more people out there driving,” Metro Police spokesman Officer Bill Cassell said. “We will be doing saturation patrols. I have not heard of any DUI checkpoints, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be some out there somewhere.”
A tense atmosphere created by the game, mixed with alcohol, often leads to increased domestic disturbance calls, especially after the game ends, Cassell said.
But during the game, it’s a different story.
“Anecdotally, whenever there’s something like this that focuses everybody’s attention, a lot of times it results in a reduction of police activity,” he said.
For bars frequented by fans of the 49ers and Ravens, Super Bowl Sunday means more chairs, more beer and more food.
At the Crab Corner, 4161 S. Eastern Ave., Ravens fans who are willing to pay $85 in advance or $125 at the door can enjoy camaraderie, all-you-can-eat crab, wine and beer. The restaurant installed extra tables to bump its capacity to 70 people, but a full house is expected, CEO Mark Smolen said.
“We’re from Maryland. We came out to Vegas in 2006 to sell crabs,” said Smolen, who also runs Nevada Seafood Wholesalers. “The Ravens are the team everybody cheers for. We wanted to have a place for people to come together and watch the games.”
At the 215 Saloon, located near Flamingo Road and Grand Canyon Drive, the kitchen has been preparing since Tuesday for an influx of hungry 49ers fans. At the establishment, which markets itself as a 49ers hangout, beer specials and prize raffles await fans who turn out for the game.
“We’re going to be near capacity. We’ve brought in folding chairs and stuff like that,” co-owner and manager Steve Green said. “I’m sure (the fans) are going to be psyched and raucous. They’ll be in good spirits, especially if they win.”