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We’ve been preparing you, so this shouldn’t be a shock: having fans for the opening of Allegiant Stadium is looking less and less likely. This was confirmed as Owner Mark Davis broke the Raiders silence and gave some very ominous updates this week.
“I won’t go if the fans can’t go, and the way it looks right now there won’t be any fans at our games,” Davis said Saturday afternoon.
This is the most direct communication from the Raiders organization and points to Allegiant Stadium opening without fans unless the season gets pushed back and things get significantly better fast. With flare-ups of COVID-19 across the country including in Las Vegas, that seems like a fantasy only 8 weeks out from the season opener.
With the highly anticipated and 98% sold out inaugural season, there’s an added element to the Raiders decisions versus a normal season where you may just try to get as many fans in as you can.
Regardless of fans at games, Davis said he sees three options for the NFL at the moment:
1. Go on as planned, with teams reporting for training camp over the next week, and see what happens.
2. Delay the start of the season until November and go to a 12-game season, canceling each team’s four interconference games.
3. Cancel the 2020 season entirely.
Canceling the season is, of course, the nuclear option. This seems unlikely at the moment but that could change if the MLB/NBA/NHL or other re-openings go very bad.
SAVE BIG IN VEGAS
Losing the NFC games, with two of the most anticipated games against future Hall of Fame QBs in their first and likely only time in Vegas, would be a blow, but all things considered, it would still get a near-full season of football, so it could be.
But the most likely (or at least, the plan that the NFL is currently pursing) is playing with limited or no fans. It would still give us football and a full season, so even without fans, this would be the best option all around if they can do it safely.
Honestly, I have mixed reactions to this news. As a season ticket holder, I am first and foremost sad. This should be a time where we are celebrating the opening of training camps and planning 10 weekend trips to Vegas. Instead, we are talking about the virus and cancellations all around.
It’s obvious that 2020 will not be the year we wanted and the first year in Vegas is not going to be how we’ve been dreaming. Knowing that this year will not be the grand opening we all wanted, I will not be disappointed if the season goes on without fans.
I can’t imagine trying to divvy up reduced capacity seats with any equity and knowing that a number of loyal, die-hard fans will be missing the opening is a hard pill to swallow.
I agree with Mark Davis’s stance that everyone who bought tickets and forked over huge sums of money for a PSL deserves to open Allegiant Stadium right, even if that means that we have to wait another year. Being patient may not be our best virtue, but we do have plenty of practice.
“I can’t tell one fan that they can’t go to the inaugural opening game in a stadium that they helped to build through their PSLs. I won’t tell them that they can’t go but the rest of these guys can.”
All that said, there’s still a small part of me that wants to attend games even if it’s not the full season that I signed up for. It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll get the choice.
In other Raiders news, it looks like the pre-season will be canceled altogether as the players wanted. This and daily testing sound like they will be two of the health and safety protocols that the NFL will agree to for the players to start training camp as expected.