- The NFL is currently working toward starting the 2020 regular season on time despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
- This is the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas after moving from their longtime home in Oakland.
- Team owner Mark Davis has previously indicated the possibility of playing the 2020 season without fans.
The Las Vegas Raiders will have a record low attendance in their first season playing in Southern Nevada. Due to the ongoing issues posed by the coronavirus pandemic team owner Mark Davis has announced that the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas will be played in an empty Allegiant Stadium.
Just a couple of weeks ago Davis made clear that he was ‘leaning toward’ playing home games without fans this season. While other NFL cities are planning to allow fans at reduced capacity, Davis’ position was that he didn’t want to ‘play favorites’ and that if all fans that have purchased tickets are unable to attend he’d prefer to have none attend.
“I felt….that if one couldn’t go, then I don’t know if any fan should go.”
He had previously indicated his pessimism over the forthcoming NFL season in the era of COVID-19 and suggested delaying the start of the sesaon:
“The only way I believe that can happen is if they delayed the start of the season rather than trying to start it right now in the middle of the uncertainty we have.”
“I believe we could get all the way up to November and still get a full season and playoffs and Super Bowl in, and if we went to November, we may have a better feel for what’s going on with the virus with some type of inoculation or something of that nature that could give us a better feel for the safety of the players, fans and everyone else.”
Davis broke the news to Raiders season ticket holders in an email released earlier today. In the message he explained the decision to play without fans:
“There is nothing more important to the Raider organization than the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, stadium workers and fans. After intensive consultation with healthcare officials and state and community leaders, we have made the difficult decision to play the Las Vegas Raiders 2020 inaugural season at Allegiant Stadium without fans in attendance. This decision is based on our commitment to protect the health of our fans and the entire community in response to the coronavirus pandemic affecting us all.”
As you’d expect, the Raiders were hoping to make their first year in the Vegas Valley a big deal. For that reason, they’ll push many of the team’s ceremonial plans back until next season:
“We want our inaugural season to be something special. I don’t even know if we’ll light the [Al Davis] torch. These are all potentials and respecting all.”
The NFL has left fan attendance up to each team in accordance with prevailing state and local guidelines. In Nevada, large gatherings are currently not allowed under the state’s reopening guidelines. The Raiders are offering season ticket holders the option of getting a refund for the 2020 tickets without losing their seats or rolling their 2020 payment to 2021.