Excitement is high for the debut of NFL football in Las Vegas, but Raiders owner Mark Davis told reporters that it was unlikely the team would be playing in front of fans as the upcoming season begins, though the team has not yet made any formal announcement of any changes to existing ticket orders. “If you asked me right now, I would say we will go with no fans in the stands,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The only teams to have formally announced they would not play in front of fans at the start of the 2020 season are the New York Giants and Jets, who both are facing a decision by the New Jersey Governor limiting crowds at outdoor events to 500 (no matter the venue size). Numerous other teams have announced they are expecting drastically reduced attendance in the fall, but have not yet determined specifics. The NFL is allowing each franchise and local authorities to determine a safe crowd size to allow amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Davis was the lone owner to vote against the recent league decision to eliminate the first eight rows of seats, allowing both distance from on-field personnel and advertising space visible for TV cameras to generate revenue, partially because his team has sold out its Las Vegas debut, and there’s nowhere to move those who have purchased those coveted seats.
“That’s the Black Hole,” he told reporters of the first eight rows in the new stadium – connecting it to the similar seats occupied by rabid fans at the Raiders’ previous home in Oakland. “It’s the people that want to be in the front row. Boisterous fans… Now I’ve got to tell 8,000 people that helped build this thing that they can’t come to a game? I don’t have 8,000 seats to move them to. We’re sold out.”
“The optics are terrible: advertising on top of seats belonging to people you’re telling they can’t come to the game. I’d rather have everybody p—– at me than just one person. I’ve got to make it up to them, and I will. This is all about safety and equity.”
Ticket prices at the new stadium were high enough to generate fan complaints as the team relocated from its Northern California home to the Nevada desert, but that didn’t keep the Raiders from being among the hottest tickets in town as they went on sale in May.