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The headline on the cover of Rugby Magazine of September/October 2009 trumpeted the news that the USA 7s event would move from San Diego to Las Vegas in 2010. The entertainment capital of the USA – also known as Sin City – would host the international event at Sam Boyd Stadium, the home football field for the University of Las Vegas.
With the San Diego experience of three-years contractually over, the USA 7s LLC, owner of the tournament, examined other options. Weather turned out to be the primary reason to look for a replacement city. In the three-years (six weekend days) in San Diego, always the first week in February, the tournament experienced three days of sunshine, two cloudy days and one day of drizzle rain. But, more ominously, the Monday after the third-year event, witnessed a torrential downpour, which would have ruined play and fan enjoyment had it occurred on the weekend.
The San Diego February weather problem generated a climate analysis of other cities that might offer a warmer and dryer possibility. The report stated that San Francisco was wetter in February, and thus scratched off as a candidate. Better climate numbers came from Phoenix and Dallas but these southern belt cities were not that attractive as tourist destinations.
For a while, it seemed that the USA 7s had no other option for 2010 but to return to San Diego, and the odd venue inside PETCO Park, the San Diego Padres Major League home field.
Then, thanks to the rugby business network, Rob Cornelius, President of the Las Vegas Black Jacks RFC, and Marketing Manager of the Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas, approached the USA 7s with an invitation to learn the Las Vegas story.
Las Vegas Events, the local business organization, prepared a comprehensive list of the city’s assets, including, inexpensive hotels, reasonable rent for the Sam Boyd, and a host of other amenities which Las Vegas could offer to visitors. The report was compelling, and the USA 7s decided to make the move, with the anticipation of warmer and dryer weather in the desert the first week of February. (NB – The USA 7s moved to March, where it will commence its 15th season in 2018).
In addition, two expansive playing fields, accommodating many pitches, were located at Sam Boyd. These would host the annual club, college, and high school tournaments that would become the Las Vegas Invitational (LVI), the largest amateur tournament in America.
Over the next eight-years, the Las Vegas 7s would generate warm fan support, grow exponentially each year, and be rated by World Rugby as one of the best on the world-wide sevens circuit.