The Raiders are no strangers to new beginnings and 2020 marks the fourth such ‘new beginning’ for the franchise at the Allegiant Stadium – Las Vegas.
They began life as the Oakland Raiders back in 1960, when they joined the newly established American Football League, becoming the eighth member of the AFL. They became a member of the AFC West after the merger of the AFL and NFL in 1970, winning the very first division title.
They stayed in Oakland until 1982 – in which year they moved from northern California to southern California – rebranding themselves as the Los Angeles Raiders and playing home games at the cities Memorial Coliseum. Their first game as an LA club, ironically, was against another city-hopping franchise destined for a future in the City of Angels, the San Diego Chargers.
They stayed in LA until the end of the 1994 season, before moving back to Oakland and the Oakland Coliseum, for the 1995 season. An extra 20,000 spaces were added to the stadium’s capacity with the addition of Mount Davis – an additional area of seating at the Coliseum Stadium, named after then owner, Al Davis.
By 2017, after years of trying to secure upgrades to a stadium showing signs of wear and tear and failing to get another relocation back to Los Angeles, the NFL agreed to let the Raiders franchise move on to its fourth incarnation in the party city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Work began on their new stadium in November 2017 and in 2020, the Raiders will be playing their home games at the NFL’s newest arena – The Allegiant Stadium – Las Vegas.
The brand new stadium is located in Paradise, Nevada within the same locale as the McCarran International Airport and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Hotel. The venue will play host to both the Raiders franchise and the Rebels football team from the University of Nevada. There will also be events and music concerts held there if Covid-19 ever goes away. Indeed, the first scheduled event to be held there was meant to be a Garth Brooks country and western gig, which has been called off due to the pandemic.
Don’t worry Garth Brooks fans, I’m sure there is a song to be made out of that…
In the meantime, the first event in the stadium will now be the Raiders game against the New Orleans Saints on Monday 21st September (or more accurately, 22nd September at 01:15 am for us, here in the UK) on Monday Night Football.
The stadium cost a staggering $1.9 billion to build, $750 million of which came from a 0.88% hotel tax levied on the Vegas-visiting public.
So what do the Raiders get for such a vast outlay?
- A retractable field that exits from the south end of the stadium and can sit in the sun when not in use.
- A dome design that allows shelter from the desert sun for fans and players alike.
- A capacity of 65,000 (72,000 for certain events like the Super Bowl.)
- An 85-foot tall torch honouring long-time owner, Al Davis, located on the north side of the stadium. This also just happens to be the largest structure ever created by a 3D printer.
- Allegiant Stadium also features retractable side windows affording views of the Las Vegas Strip from the north end of the stadium.
- As well as the grass field used by the Raiders, the stadium also has an artificial field that will be used by the Rebels college team.
The stadium will feature ten levels plus the roof.
- Event level which is sited twenty feet below ground and features: The playing field – security command – medical station – electric substation – visiting team facilities – staff entrances – press workrooms – interview rooms – Raiders, Rebels and Raiderette cheerleaders locker rooms.
- Ground level: Retail store – box office – VIP entry lobbies.
- Main concourse, 16 feet above ground – public restrooms – ticket-holder seats.
- Lower suite, 32 feet above ground – standard and executive suites – VIP lounges.
- Upper suite, 52 feet above ground – public restrooms – ticket-holder seats – VIP lounges.
- Mid-bowl mezzanine, 70 feet above ground – air handling equipment rooms.
- Upper concourse, 88 feet above ground – ticket-holder seats.
- Upper mezzanine, 100 feet above ground – ticket-holder seats.
- Press level, 142 feet above ground – press gondola – TV and radio broadcast booths – coaches’ booths.
- Catwalk, 157 feet above ground – access to lights and equipment.
- Roof, 195 feet above ground – Ethylene Tetra Flouro Ethylene cable roof system.
The futuristic look of the stadium has led to Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders and son of Al Davis, to nickname it ‘The Death Star’, after the construction in the original Star Wars movie.
When the stadium eventually opens up to a paying public, it will do so as a cashless stadium, meaning fans will be able to pay for everything within via their credit and debit cards.
The future seems bright for the franchise, set in the playboy city in the heart of the Nevada desert, playing in a brand new stadium and with a rich history in the books for the franchise. However, this is the Raiders we are talking about and on the field, there are many improvements needed in the squad to make them competitive at the top end of the food chain again.
As the old saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – will this be the case for the nomadic Raiders franchise, time will tell.