Raiders: Anticipated move to Vegas clouded in uncertainity

Raiders (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Las Vegas Raiders might find their transition to Vegas a bit more difficult than expected.

The Las Vegas Raiders are expected to debut in Vegas in 2020, but with COVID-19 and other factors in play, the transition could be bumpier than originally expected.

Raider Nation, you might want to hold off on the celebration of your franchise’s move to Las Vegas, at least for now.

It’s not that I want to rain on your parade or take away from the historic feat that your team is about to undertake. Trust me, there’s a lot more going on in our world that needs attention right now than trying to spoil the arrival of a new era in Raiders football.

Nevertheless, the NFL season continues to approach us with each passing day.

After conducting a virtual draft and releasing schedules with no modifications to game dates, times, or locations (except the suspension of international contests), it appears as if the league is proceeding as normal. However, there is plenty still left unsettled.

Training camps are in flux and offseason programs have been canceled or moved to a virtual setting. This is affecting all franchises.

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There are some organizations, like the Raiders, who are also anticipating the opening of new stadiums for 2020. The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, for example, have a joint facility opening up in Inglewood, California.

However, Las Vegas is in a unique spot. Not only are they unveiling a new stadium, they still haven’t fully moved team operations over to their new location. Essentially, the team is still in limbo between California and Nevada until the season becomes official.

Talk about a dilemma. That’s two states, two separate health guidelines, and two separate protocols.

Further complicating the situation is that the Raiders were supposed to hold their draft, rookie minicamp and OTA’s in Alameda, CA where their current facility is located.

The team was then expecting to hold its team-wide mandatory minicamp at the new Henderson, Nevada grounds from June 16-18. That’s not even the end of the back-and-forth.

Las Vegas was then slated to return to California in August for training camp, before finally making the permanent move to their new home city at the conclusion of camp.

Did you get dizzy just reading about their constant back and forth? Now add in the difficulties of executing said plan with the proliferation of the COVID-19  pandemic across the country. It’s a logistics nightmare, of course to no fault of their own.

Even when the team eventually does make it to Las Vegas, questions will continue to surround the team and stadium operations.

For example, the UNLV’s college football team is expected to share Allegiant’s grounds with the Raiders for their home games. College playing fields and NFL fields require different conditions.

Assuming college football plays on as scheduled in the fall, will Nevada want to allow workers to be engaging in intensive labor every week for an entire season, especially during the pandemic?

What about fans? The NFL has previously stated its intention of playing in front of stadiums at full capacity, but let’s be realistic — the chances of conditions improving enough to allow that to occur by September is unlikely.

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Not to mention, there is talk of a second wave of COVID-19 that could strike sometime in the fall or winter, right in the heart of football season.

Therefore, Las Vegas could be saddled with the prospect of having to play in their new stadium without the presence of fans. That’s far from ideal circumstances, especially when the team would benefit from forging a quick and sturdy relationship with their new city to ensure a smooth transition.

The good news is that the $1.9 billion stadium is still expected to open on time, with the construction of it being labeled an essential operation during the pandemic. The roofing, seating, turf, signage, and the grounds outside Allegiant are near full completion.

So to be clear, there will be NFL football played in Las Vegas in the near future. The Raiders will eventually formulate a plan to get everything ready for the debut season in their new location. However, it won’t come without some obstacles in the way.

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In that sense, a successful first season in Las Vegas could be more rewarding than ever.