- The Raiders are preparing for their first season in Las Vegas after moving from Oakland.
- Their team offices and practice facilities are part of a $75 million complex located in suburban Henderson, Nevada.
- Several ‘off the record’ sources are indicating some serious consideration of relocating the Raiders’ training camp from Napa, California to Southern Nevada.
The Las Vegas Raiders should definitely be looking forward to their first season in their new hometown. Southern Nevada NFL fans are seriously excited to have their own team and maybe the high desert air has some mojo for first year teams? The NHL Vegas Golden Knights would likely argue in the affirmative after their debut season as an expansion franchise found unprecedented success and enthusiasm in their unlikely ‘hockey town’.
Now the Raiders know the bar is set pretty high with the Golden Knights’ first year run to the Stanley Cup Finals and it remains to be seen if they can come close to matching the feat. That’s a tall order but the foundation is set–the team’s $2 billion Allegiant Stadium is sold out for the year which includes both single game and season tickets. Vegas will play on prime time TV four times this year and the City of Henderson has even renamed the street in front of their practice facility to ‘Raiders Way’.
There are plenty of good reasons the Raiders should be looking forward to their arrive in Southern Nevada and there’s a chance that could happen ‘sooner rather than later’. The Las Vegas Review Journal is quoting ‘unnamed’ but well placed sources who indicate that the Raiders are seriously considering moving their training camp from Napa, California to their Henderson facility which has been dubbed the ‘Intermountain Healthcare Performance Facility’. I’ll probably keep calling it the ‘Henderson facility’.
GETTING COMFORTABLE IN THEIR NEW HOME
The original plan was for the team to hold off season conditioning in Northern California until the Henderson facility was completed in early June. At that point, the team would hold minicamp in Southern Nevada. According to GM Mike Mayock, he wanted to make sure that players were comfortable in their new digs well before the start of the season:
“I don’t really want the players walking around like this, ‘Wow, this is cool,’ while we’re getting ready for week one. I want to get all the shock and awe out of there. Get them used to it. Know where their meetings are, where everything is in the building. And when we get back from training camp, it’s ‘Let’s go to work.’ ”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused every NFL team to alter schedules for offseason training but the hope is now that they can get some degree of certainty established for minicamp and training camp. The expectation is that the Raiders will be able to hold minicamp in Henderson as Nevada governor Steve Sisolak continues to ease restrictions put in place to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. In a Tuesday ‘virtual briefing’, Sisolak indicated that positive COVID-19 tests have trended downward for 31 days while hospitalizations have declined for 35 days. Testing and lab capacity in Southern Nevada has also expanded.
SO WHAT ABOUT TRAINING CAMP? NEVADA OR NAPA?
It’s not that the Raiders don’t like training in Napa. In fact, they’ve had a great relationship with Napa and quickly confirmed they’d return to California wine country for the 2020 camp after the move to Nevada was finalized. The LVRJ report made clear that Napa is still an option but went on to outline the arguments for training camp in Henderson. The most compelling: logistics and practicality amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s just a lot easier to keep everyone in Southern Nevada than to move players, coaches and staff to Northern California and then back for the regular season.
The team would have the option of getting the players used to their regular season routine of commuting to the Henderson complex. Alternately, they could set up in a Henderson hotel and try to replicate the isolation of training camp. Either way, there’s clearly an advantage to getting the team acclimated to the sometimes disorienting lifestyle of the Las Vegas Valley. Much better to be doing that in late Summer than during the regular season.
From the sound of it, it could be a one year deal if they do opt to train in Henderson. Next year, they’ll no longer be the ‘newcomers’ in town and hopefully COVID-19 will no longer be an issue. At this point, there’s probably an upside to going away to train as football teams have done for decades. No matter what the Raiders end up doing this season look for them to return to Napa for the 2021 preseason.