Since I was a little kid, my favorite football team has been the Raiders. I’m not sure if it was the cool pirate logo, or the silver and black uniforms or they way they played with reckless abandon that drew me in as a fan, but have had silver and black in my veins ever since.
I had delayed going to see them on my stadium journey until they had completed their move to this amazing new stadium in Las Vegas. I had originally planned my visit to be during the 2020 season, but COVID restrictions forced me to wait another year. Honestly, it was more than worth the wait to see this amazing new stadium.
As far as host cities of all my visits go, Vegas is clearly on a very short list (along with New Orleans and Nashville) as being the most fun and exciting.
Since my last football stadium visit in December 2019, I have retired and moved from the NJ suburbs to Denver, so the plane ride here was barely 90 minutes.
This trip is actually only my first time in Vegas since 9 years ago. I arrived and checked in to my hotel on the strip around 10 AM. The strip was already bustling (which is pretty much the case 24/7 there) with a lot of breakfast spots filled with football fans pre-gaming or folks treating their hangovers with Bloody Mary’s or Mimosas.
I followed a crowd of silver and black clad fans wearing jerseys of almost every famous Raider who’s ever donned the uniform to a tram station that shuffled us over to the Mandalay Bay casino. From there it was about a 10 minute walk up Frank Sinatra Drive to the stadium.
As you near the stadium and it becomes in closer view, the first impressions are pretty awesome.
Allegiant Stadium, with its glossy-black exterior, is the ‘meanest looking’ stadium in football. The shining black and silver exterior of the building along with the transparent EFTE roof was clearly meant to be awe-inspiring and it clearly hits the mark.
Having the stadium located so close to the action of the Strip may not have been the most practical choice, but from a pure optics perspective, it is ideal.
Similar to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, it’s imperative to enter through the right gate for your seating location, otherwise it could be an epic adventure of walking up and back down several levels to get around the split luxury box section to get to where you need to be.
Everything in the stadium, including the bathrooms, is painted one of three colors…white, black, or silver. Throughout the stadium, there is an abundance of Raiders-themed art along with a profound salute to the excellence of the Raiders organization through a very impressive Raider’s Hall of Fame.
Maybe the most impressive feature of the 1.8 billion dollar stadium is the 92-foot-tall memorial torch atop the northern end of the stadium. The torch was built using 3-D technology and is currently the largest 3-D printed object in the world.
The huge sliding glass lanai doors behind the Al Davis torch open the stadium up to the Vegas strip and offer an immediate “sense of place” despite being a dome. The natural grass field slides in on a track a la the stadium in Arizona (which is just plain neat). Fans are protected from intense UV rays while still getting an “outdoor feel” thanks to the transparent roof.
True to Vegas style, there is a great deal of live entertainment throughout the game on the platform by the torch. The halftime performers were Run DMC and the National Anthem was sung by Vanessa Hudgens.
The energy and excitement in the stands was off the charts. A great deal of the Raider ‘fan persona’ that supported them throughout their years in Oakland could still be felt here in their stylish and shiny new digs. This included a number of scary looking Chicanos with neck tattoos, amongst whom I felt perfectly safe and protected since I was wearing my vintage Rich Gannon jersey. Felt perfectly safe and accepted by the worst of them since I was wearing my Rich Gannon jersey. That said, this was definitely not the same ‘Black Hole’ crowd. Rowdy behavior was expected at the Oakland Coliseum, in Las Vegas, that same behavior might get you ejected. Several of the local casinos have purchased suites or memberships in the many premium clubs at Allegiant Stadium to entertain many of their biggest clients as well.
Again, true to Vegas form, the food offerings were really diverse ranging from standard stadium fare to high end haut-cuisine provided by celebrity chefs. My favorite were the Smoked Brisket Burritos. Other nice spots to eat/drink are Casamingos Tequila Lounge, The Modelo Cantina Club, Las Vegas’ Area 419 or the Blue Moon Brewing Company.
The Raiders opponents were the Washington Football Team, the same team they faced in Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984. It was a low scoring contest with the Raiders clinging to a 1 point lead late in the 4th quarter. But Washington mounted a late drive culminating with a 48 yard FG by Brian Johnson, playing in his first game of the year, giving them a 17-15 victory and leaving both teams with a 6-6 record.
The wave of fans all exiting en-masse out of the stadium and across I-15 was almost crushing. The crowd ultimately pushed over the barricades and flooded onto the street despite the hopeless attempt by the far outnumbered policemen to control them.
So, the day was a great experience for me – but I still have 3 more days in this wonderful city and a full agenda of things to do before returning back home to Denver.
Fans – A – Possibly the most energetic, enthusiastic, hard-core fans in sports. Maybe a bit intimidating, but not as bad as the crowd who use to make camp in the ‘Black Hole’
Features – A+ – Too many to list. The stadium is a gorgeous, shiny, interesting high-tech marvel. The 3D torch stands out as one of many of the amazing features
Location – A+ – Right smack in the heart of Sin City, just a short walk of the strip. Countless things to do after the game – as long as your energy and wallet can keep up.
Food – A – Lots of options, including high-end celebrity chef fare. Some of it a bit pricy, but this is Vegas after all.
Game – B+ – Low scoring game, but one that went down to the wire, decided by a FG with under a minute left. Would have been much nicer had the Raiders won.
Overall Experience – A+ – Nothing not to love about this experience. A ‘must go’ destination for any Raider fan or football fan in general for that matter.