- This is the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas after spending their first 60 seasons in Oakland and Los Angeles.
- The Raiders will play in the brand new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium
- The Raiders will play in four nationally televised prime time games this year.
It wasn’t that long ago that pro sports in general and the National Football League in particular wanted nothing to do was Las Vegas, Nevada. Times have changed dramatically. Not only will Las Vegas have a NFL team for the first time in city history the league is going out of their way to give them high profile visibility not only in Southern Nevada but nationally. The Raiders will play four times in prime time nationally televised games with the first appearance coming on Monday Night, September 21 against the New Orleans Saints from the brand new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium. Allegiant Stadium will become a frequent sight for football fans as the other three prime time games will also be played in Las Vegas.
So what changed to cause the NFL to embrace Las Vegas after shunning them for decades? Several things including money, demographics, the success of pro sports in Southern Nevada as well as the nationwide growth of sports betting. Sports betting was the big ‘no no’ for the NFL that kept them out of Las Vegas for years. That’s no longer an issue. There was also the old canard that professional sports would never work in Las Vegas. The success of the NHL Vegas Golden Knights both on and off the ice dispelled that notion. By now, the Golden Knights’ insane run to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first year of play is part of pro sports lore. And as far as the support they receive note that at the time the NHL suspended play due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Knights were playing to 105.4% of capacity at T-Mobile Arena averaging 18,310 per game.
Money and demographics takes care of the rest. There’s plenty of deep pockets willing to invest in Las Vegas which has grown into a metro area of over 2 million (2,266,715 to be more precise). Since the 2010 census the Las Vegas/Henderson/Paradise, Nevada metropolitan statistical area has grown by 16.17% and is now the 28th largest in the United States.
LOOKING AT THE LAS VEGAS RAIDERS 2020 SCHEDULE
The Raiders will open the regular season on the road at Carolina on September 13. The following Monday will be their first national TV appearance in what will also be their first regular season home game at Allegiant Stadium. They’ll then travel to New England to finish off September. Their next nationally televised game will be at home on October 25 when they’ll face Tampa Bay with Tom Brady on NBC Sunday Night Football. On November 22, the Kansas City Chiefs come to town for another Sunday Night game. Their fourth nationally televised game will come on December 17 against the Los Angeles Chargers–a Thursday Night simulcast on Fox, the NFL Network and Amazon.
With the release of the NFL schedule on Thursday a number of sportsbooks began to post lines on the games. Westgate opened the Raiders as a +4 home underdog against the Saints on Monday Night Football with the total set at 50.5. Caesars has them as +4.5 underdogs bet down from their +5.5 opening price. In their season opener at Carolina the Westgate and Caesars have the game as a ‘pick’ while William Hill has the Raiders as a +1 point underdog. The total on the Panthers/Raiders game is set at 46.5.
Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons said that his book will be following the betting on Raiders’ games closely during their first season in the Vegas Valley. Just several years ago, the Golden Knights took the city by storm and put the longtime niche sport of hockey squarely on the betting map:
“It’s hard to tell what influence the Raiders will have on the town compared to the Knights. It they start scoring and winning, people will get behind them quickly.”
Salmons’ quote might already be an understatement–the Raiders have sold out their entire allotment of tickets for their 2020 schedule at Allegiant Stadium. This isn’t just season tickets–every single game ticket has also been sold. If head coach Jon Gruden can field a competitive team Las Vegas will go nuts for their new NFL team.