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‘Sin City’ abuzz as San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs set for Super Bowl clash

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The glittering gambling capital in the Nevada desert is crackling with anticipation ahead of an NFL championship game that has topped even the usual stratospheric levels of hype.

A general view of the Vince Lombardi Trophy with the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs helmets during a press conference ahead of Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. Picture: Ethan Miller, Getty Images/AFP

The San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs clash in a blockbuster Super Bowl showdown on Sunday as Las Vegas stages the American sporting showpiece for the first time.

The glittering gambling capital in the Nevada desert is crackling with anticipation ahead of an NFL championship game that has topped even the usual stratospheric levels of hype.

The romance between pop megastar Taylor Swift and the Chiefs’ charismatic Travis Kelce is just one of the storylines of a game that is expected to smash US television viewing records.

Swift is reported to have arrived back in the United States en route to “Sin City” on Saturday after making a 5,530-mile (8,900km) trans-Pacific dash across the international dateline following a performance in Tokyo on the latest leg of her money-spinning world tour.

The singer will be among a crowd of celebrities, VIPs and high-rollers packed into the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium to see if Kelce and the Chiefs can clinch a third Super Bowl crown in five seasons.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimates around 500 private jets will touch down in Las Vegas for the game, while local officials say more than 300,000 visitors have descended on the city for the Super Bowl weekend.

Roulette wheels and slot machines are doing a roaring trade while poker tables in several casinos are staffed by dealers wearing NFL merchandise in a city once shunned by the league due to its association with gambling.

The horde of tourists will flock to nightclubs and celebrity-hosted watch parties being laid on in addition to Las Vegas’ regular array of concerts featuring stars such as U2, Adele, Christina Aguilera and Green Day.

Those fans lucky enough to have a ticket for the game, where R&B star Usher headlines the half-time show, have paid handsomely for the privilege.

The cheapest seats available on resale ticketing website Stubhub on Saturday came with a hefty $5,848 price tag; with the most expensive listed at a staggering $196,875.

The American Gaming Association, meanwhile, projects that a record 67.8 million Americans — around a quarter of the country’s adult population — will place a bet on the Super Bowl, generating an estimated $23.1 billion.

Chiefs eye dynasty

The sporting dimension of the occasion, which kicks off at 3.30pm local time (1.30am SA time on Monday), has all the ingredients of a classic.

The Chiefs are playing in their fourth Super Bowl in five seasons, hoping to cement their dynasty status with a third Vince Lombardi Trophy after wins in 2020 and 2023.

The franchise would also be the first team since the New England Patriots in 2003 and 2004 to win back-to-back Super Bowls – an achievement that Kelce is determined to match.

“I’ve wanted this more than I’ve ever wanted to win a Super Bowl in my life,” Chiefs icon Kelce said.

The Chiefs conducted a final training walkthrough on Saturday which left head coach Andy Reid satisfied that his team is primed to defend their title.

“I was pleased with what I saw,” Reid said after the workout. “I think they’re ready to go play.”

The 49ers camp was similarly buoyant after their final workout. “Our guys are ready to go,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “They’re relaxed.”

Sunday’s game is also a repeat of the 2020 Super Bowl, when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led a stirring fourth-quarter comeback with 21 unanswered points to beat San Francisco 31-20.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are chasing a sixth Super Bowl and their first since 1994-1995.

The 49ers emerged from the regular season with the best record in the NFC but survived nerve-shredding playoff games against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions to book their ticket to Las Vegas.

San Francisco head coach Shanahan, meanwhile, is aiming to end his long wait to finally get his hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy in his third Super Bowl.

As well as the loss to Kansas City in 2020, Shanahan was the offensive coordinator when the Atlanta Falcons blew a 28-3 lead in the 2017 Super Bowl before losing to New England.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a fan of Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship

Shanahan insists, however, he is only thinking about the here and now rather than the narrative surrounding him as a Super Bowl nearly man.

“Narrative, good or bad, is just a narrative,” Shanahan said as Sunday’s game neared.

“I just don’t want regrets. I just want to do everything that makes sense to myself, that makes sense for our team.”

AFP

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