The Las Vegas Raiders are on schedule to inherit the keys to Allegiant Stadium on July 31, a team executive revealed during the webinar “Why Flexibility in Venues is More Important than Ever” organized by SportTechie.
Matt Pasco, vice president for information technology at the Raiders, says the stadium is structurally complete and the ongoing work is down to landscaping outside of the venue and some finishes throughout the inside of the stadium.
“Depending on what happens with COVID-19, we’re ready to go and ready to play football games and bring the team to Southern Nevada,” Pasco said. The NFL held its draft virtually in April having had to cancel the in-person scheduled event in Las Vegas, which will host the draft in 2022 instead. The league still plans to hold a full season starting in September.
“As we moved down here and started working in this town, we realized what a dynamic market it is with being the convention capital of the world,” Pasco said. “In addition to hosting Raiders games and concerts, we’re going to host conventions — and there’s countless conventions that come to town and so many of them bring 40,000 to 50,000 people and there hasn’t been a venue that could host all those people in one place. Now we can put them all under one roof and we’re excited to do that.”
The attraction to holding more than 10 Raiders games and six home games for UNLV football comes down to economics. “They cost billions of dollars to construct or renovate, they cost millions of dollars to operate,” said Brett Unzicker, Samsung Electronics America vice president for sales. “Whether it’s basketball with 41 games or football, you’re talking about a limited number of days that you’re driving revenue. … One of the beauties that we try to do with technology is that somebody can go with a group of their friends on a Friday night and see the concert of their dreams but overnight you can change the entire experience of that venue and set it up to cater to a game the next day.”
To that point, Pasco said Allegiant Stadium — the result of years’ worth of looking at other stadiums and venues to see what the Raiders wanted in a home — will have different stadium programs set up so that beyond football, it will also be able to host basketball games, hockey and have venue tours given nearly every day of the year.
A unique part of the stadium will be the playing surface — grass for the Raiders, but a different surface for UNLV that will be on the stadium floor. The plans are for the Raiders’ grass field to spend weekdays in the sun before being rolled in before games on rails from the stadium’s south end. Pasco said one place the Raiders visited to see how they would put together seating in the area that could be taken down to let the field go in and out of the venue was Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City. For that arena’s renovation in 2017, operators put together a section of floor seating that can be deconstructed for concerts and opened up additional stage space.
That seating was part of a series of improvements to the home of the Utah Jazz in which the building was essentially taken down to the studs — “the only difference is the four walls don’t change,” said Don Szczepaniak, president and chief executive officer for Prismview, comparing a new build to the arena’s renovation.
“The first thing when we did the remodel was respecting the brand and not doing something to the building that would take away from its status as an icon downtown,” said Jamie Galileo, senior vice president, facilities, for Vivint Smart Home Arena and Smith’s Ballpark, home of the Los Angeles Angels’ Triple-A baseball team. “When it came time to remodel the building, we needed to be very, very careful and very respectful to the brand and the building.”
It is that philosophy that drove the Raiders in the construction of Allegiant Stadium.
“When the customer has a very distinct vision, it is our job to turn that into reality or explain why that physically can’t be done and give alternatives,” Szczepaniak said. “The Raiders had a distinct vision and I wouldn’t change one bit of it — that stadium is going to be instantly iconic.”