Las Vegas Raiders will play 2020 season in new $2 billion stadium without any fans in attendance

When Mark Davis decided to move the Raiders to Las Vegas, he certainly didn’t envision an empty stadium in his first season there.

The Raiders informed season-ticket holders on Monday that there will be no fans in new Allegiant Stadium this season. Nevada taxes paid $750 million toward the stadium, which cost an estimated $2 billion.

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Plenty of teams will have to make the difficult decision to hold 2020 home games without fans, due to COVID-19. Only one of them is in a new market, however.

Raiders make ‘difficult decision’

An email signed by Davis went to season-ticket holders and was tweeted out by Vince Sapienza of Fox 5 in Las Vegas, the Raiders said they were making the decision to exclude fans due to health concerns. The team also cited fairness to the personal-seat license holders, because the team was going to have to pick and choose which fans got into games if there were limited crowds.

The Raiders didn’t want to start their time in a new city this way, but there wasn’t much choice.

An exterior view of the new Allegiant Stadium with the Las Vegas Strip in the background.
There will be no fans in the Raiders' new Las Vegas stadium this season. (John Locher/AP File)

Other teams will play without fans in stadium

Other teams like the New York Giants and Jets have already announced they won’t have fans in the stadium this season.

Those teams have years, often decades, of history in their cities. Every team in any sport that changes cities, with the rare exception like the Los Angeles Chargers, experiences a rush of interest and excitement from their new market. Las Vegas instantly became a big hockey town with the expansion Golden Knights, and the Raiders were going to be a big hit, too. The new stadium, across the freeway from the Las Vegas Strip, looks phenomenal.

In time, Las Vegas will get a chance to embrace the Raiders in person. For now, they’ll have to do it from their homes.

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