Picture this: You finally get the new home you’ve been seeking, The furniture is neatly arranged, the paint fresh. You’re ready to invite friends and family to take a look.
But then a deadly virus spoils the big reveal.
That’s what happened this summer to Raiders owner Mark Davis. When it became apparent that it would not be prudent to invite 65,000 of his closet friends inside Allegiant Stadium for Raiders games this fall, even if they removed their shoes, Davis made a call that would have done the Property Brothers on HGTV proud.
The team owner said if it wasn’t safe for all to be inside the Raiders’ spectacular new digs for an open house against the Saints on Monday Night Football, then none would be allowed inside.
“That is absolutely the case. I will not be going to games this season at home,” Davis said as finishing touches to the $2 billion facility were being made in early August. “I can’t tell one fan … that they’re not going to be able to go to that inaugural game in a stadium they helped build.”
To paraphrase his father, Al, from whom he inherited one of pro football’s most iconic franchises, “Just do the right thing, baby.”
Right decision made
The colossal new stadium flanking the Strip was the driving force behind the Raiders skipping out of dilapidated Oakland Coliseum a second time, leaving it to baseball’s A’s and mice that lived in the soda machines. But Davis said the grand opening will just have to wait one more season.
Personal seat licenses at Allegiant sold out in January.
But when the coronavirus struck with a Doomsday Defense-like vengeance and showed no signs of relenting as training camp approached, it also caused a conundrum for the Raiders owner.
“I just can’t do it,” Davis said about playing in front of only a smattering of spectators sporting face paint and body armor, per state and local regulations limiting huge gatherings until further notice.
This was different than giving music fans a wristband with the hope their number would be called to purchase Rolling Stones tickets. A king’s ransom already had been delivered on seat licenses and tickets on the 50-yard line and in the swanky luxury boxes.
As for those who believe Davis was too hasty in proactively going fanless amid a virus that poses no mortal threat for most who contract it, consider that during a 2018 game between the Titans and Dolphins there were four hours of lightning delays — despite only one strike happening within a mile of Hard Rock Stadium.
The odds of dying from a lightning strike in the U.S. in a given year are roughly 1 in 6.6 million. And yet the players were sent to their respective locker rooms almost as soon as dark clouds rolled in.
The Raiders now play in a domed stadium that offers shelters from a storm. That’s not the point.
This is: With this virus still running free in the secondary in states where many NFL teams play, large gatherings (with the exception of those involving choppers in the shadow of Mount Rushmore) are frowned upon.
Far better to be safe than sorry. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Especially when there is no cure.
If you think the Raiders took a lot of grief for using the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft on JaMarcus Russell, can you imagine the blowback if Derek Carr sidled over to the Black Hole, provided one will exist in the new stadium, and Gorilla Rilla or somebody like him sneezed? And Carr had to go on COVID IR?
Or, more seriously, if fans attending a Raiders’ game caused a spike in coronavirus cases?
People would go nuts.
People would hold Davis responsible.
Especially if the Raiders’ quarterback were hitting his wide receivers with any sort of regularity.