The Las Vegas Raiders move into a shiny, new stadium this fall when the NFL season begins. This will mark the beginning of a new era in the franchise's history, but it will happen amid relative silence. The Raiders will open the stadium and play their home games without fans in attendance.
"There is nothing more important to the Raider Organization than the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, stadium workers and fans," the Raiders said in a statement. "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.
"This decision also ensures fairness to you, our PSL holders, given the challenges and potential inequities associated with determining who can and cannot attend specific games if the stadium were to operate at a reduced capacity. While the current situation is not how any of us envisioned celebrating the opening of Allegiant Stadium, when circumstances permit we look forward to sharing an unparalleled game day experience in the magnificent stadium you helped build." The Raiders will play the first home game in Week 2, facing off against the New Orleans Saints.
In addition to confirming the lack of fans for 2020 games, the Raiders also delayed the stadium's opening ceremony. This will now move to 2021 once fan events can take place again. Additionally, team owner Mark Davis will not attend any of his team's games during the season. He previously told Vic Tafur of The Athletic that he "won't go if the fans can't go."
Allegiant Stadium can hold an estimated 65,000 fans and has several luxury suites. The stadium is expected to be the home of top-tier NFL games, as well as concerts and other events. Now, however, the "Death Star" will remain relatively empty for the foreseeable future.
While the fans can't attend any games at Allegiant Stadium, they will see some of the biggest stars shine in the new facility through their TV screens. The NFL previously announced that the Pro Bowl will take place in Las Vegas as part of a new agreement. The annual all-star game has spent the past three seasons in Orlando after decades in Hawaii, but now Sin City will serve as the home. Fans will just have to wait until 2021 to attend.