Las Vegas is known by many nicknames: Sin City, The City That Never Sleeps, The Neon Capital of The World. Now, it’s known for the Las Vegas Raiders autumn wind.
A city known for so much is now known as the home of the Las Vegas Raiders. A franchise with a rich history, created even more history on Monday Night playing the first NFL regular-season game in the city’s 115-year history. The Raiders autumn wind is blowing through the nation’s largest metropolitan area to be founded in the 20th Century.
The big game, at the team’s new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium, would normally be the hottest ticket in town. But due to COVID-19 restrictions in Nevada, and Raiders owner Mark Davis putting the kibosh on fans attend, the day seemed a bit anticlimactic. But this is Raider Nation and the NFL’s most rabid fans would not be denied. Many traveled great distances to be near their beloved team as they kicked off the start of a new year.
As many in Raider Nation know, the passion and dedication of the fan base cannot be understated. Even though fans were not allowed to watch their team beat the New Orleans Saints 34-24 at Allegiant Stadium, they showed up in droves to see their fellow Silver and Black family. Thankfully for them, Las Vegas lifted their bar closure just in time for the celebration, and the energy and excitement immeasurable on Monday nigh. The time was right for the Raiders autumn wind – and the fan base that makes it blow – to capture the hearts and minds of Las Vegans and fans from all over.
According to Kenny King Jr., son of former Raider legend Kenny King, who traveled to the city for the first game, Las Vegas has embraced the team and its fanbase with open arms.
“The city just loves the Raiders,” King said. “Everyone was excited to be a part of history.”
Although being in the stadium Monday night would have been preferable, there were many options in Las Vegas for fans to cheer on the Silver and Black.
That includes Stage Door Casino, a neighborhood bar that has welcomed Raider Nation with open arms. If any bar in Las Vegas captures the spirit of the Raiders autumn wind persona, it’s the Stage Door Casino.
I spoke with Raider fan @Raiderroo0124 on Twitter who made the trip from Utah. He said Stage Door Casino reached capacity three hours prior to kickoff. Despite many bars and party watch gatherings being full, Raiders fans swarmed the famed Las Vegas Strip.
“Raiders chants were going all the way down the strip,” he said. “They were walking and coming from cars going down the street. The atmosphere, despite all the negativity in the world right now, is electric in Las Vegas and they are excited to have the Raiders.”
I’ve spoken to numerous fans that made the trip and the majority expressed the trip was worth it to get an early look at the new Raiders home. Social media is scattered with images of Raider Nation posing with their new stadium. Allegiant Stadium, the ” Death Star” has most in Raider Nation have begun to call it, will have to wait to be introduced to the Raider fan base next season. But the stadium unveiling on national television during Monday Night Football was an effective alternative. The Raiders now are proud to have one of the best stadiums in football.
The Raiders will always have a history in Oakland and Los Angeles, and while it’s disappointing to some that they moved to the Nevada desert, excitement is high for most. A fan base that is filled with passion and loyalty has expanded as they welcome in fans from a new city.
Some questioned the move at first and were uncertain how their new city would embrace them. Fortunately, Las Vegas has shown that a major sports franchise can succeed in the city and fans will come out in high numbers. This, mixed with the Raiders fan base that travels well, has to have Mark Davis excited for the future. As with the NHL Golden Knights, the Raiders have the city buzzing and it’s abundantly clear the Raiders are excited to have Las Vegas and Las Vegas is excited to have the Raiders.