LVSportsBiz Story of 2021: Allegiant Stadium Packs ‘Em In For Raiders Games, Concerts, UNLV/College Football, Soccer Matches, WWE

Originally published Dec 29, 2021, at Thanks to Alan Snel and for sharing with us.

LVSportsBiz Story of 2021: Allegiant Stadium Packs ‘Em In For Raiders Games, Concerts, UNLV/College Football, Soccer Matches, WWE

She’s the jewel of the Las Vegas Strip entertainment corridor, the literal game-changer that soaked up lots of public money to build but was a necessary piece of tourism infrastructure required for Las Vegas to compete against the Orlandos and the LAs for the tourist buck.

When your economy is a one-trick pony industry of tourism, metro Las Vegas decided it was best to pour in a record NFL stadium subsidy of $750 million into building a domed venue that came to life for the first time in 2021 with packed houses even though the stadium was ready in 2020.

Allegiant Stadium was easily the biggest sports-business story of 2021 in Las Vegas and there wasn’t even a close second in a market that saw announcements for a new indoor lacrosse team at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay and a new indoor football team at Bill Foley’s new 6,000-seat arena in Henderson, Nev.

There was lots of speculative chatter about the Oakland Athletics sniffing around the Strip for a baseball park site, billionaires checking out Las Vegas for an MLS expansion soccer team and an NBA team opening shop with a turn of a key at T-Mobile Arena. And UFC boss Dana White and Top Rank Boxing founder/CEO Bob Arum kept their fighters throwing punches in the cage and ring in Las Vegas.

But Allegiant Stadium was by far and away the focus of so many newsworthy and significant sports-biz stories that broke user traffic and page view records every month from July to September.

They built the stadium through a virus pandemic and officially had the place ready for business in late July 2020. The Clark County certificate of occupancy was in place by the end of July 2020, as the Las Vegas Raiders had promised.

The UNLV v. Eastern Washington University game at Allegiant Stadium on Sep 2, 2020, was the first with fans — but only 2,000 J. Tyge O’Donnell

But COVID-19 times being what they were 16 months ago, most events slated for Allegiant Stadium were scrubbed in 2020 and fans were not allowed to attend Raiders games during the NFL team’s inaugural season in Las Vegas. Fans did get a look at the stadium in 2020 for two UNLV football games, but the crowd was capped at a mere 2,000.

Then 2021 rolled around and by July the masses began filing through the Allegiant Stadium turnstiles for two very diverse concerts — the Illenium electronic dance music concert  and a sold-out Garth Brooks concert that created the stadium’s first traffic and parking messes.

And on August 1, the first packed sports event rocked the stadium when the USA and Mexico national soccer teams went into overtime in the domed venue.

Fans attending the US v Mexico Gold Cup game sported colorful outfits J. Tyge O’Donnell

On Aug. 8, Raiders season ticket holders finally got their first views inside the palatial stadium. 

LVSportsBiz photographer Daniel Clark was there to capture the moments:

Local dignitaries and team officials celebrate the first Raiders game with fans allowed Daniel Clark (
Raiders owner Mark Davis welcomes Raiders fans to Allegiant Stadium Daniel Clark (
Raiders fans check out Allegiant Stadium for the first time Aug 8, 2021 Daniel Clark (
Raiders fans practice their selfie game with team owner Mark Davis Daniel Clark (
Some fans were outraged at the Raiders’ COVID-19 vaccine requirement, but cooler heads prevailed — and 15,000 arms received their initial vaccinations at the stadium

Allegiant Stadium also was a leader in the NFL in a different category. Davis decided that all fans at regular season home games would be required to show proof of vaccination to get through the turnstiles.

The nothing-but-the-vax policy ticked off some fans. But the vast majority complied as the Raiders set up a tent in the parking lot at Hacienda and Polaris avenues to help fans with the Clear app and facilitate the ticket entry process.

Under the vaccination policy, fans were be allowed to not wear a mask after showing their proof of vax. The Raiders were the first NFL team to institute the vaccination attendance policy and more than 15,000 fans received their first COVID-19 vax jabs because of the vax policy.

The stadium hosted an array of events in 2021 besides the Raiders home game, including hosting two major soccer matches, plus a Guns N’ Roses concert Aug 27.

UNLV averaged 22,357 fans at Allegiant Stadium in 2021

The UNLV football team paid at least $150,000 per game to play its six home games at the stadium.

It came as no surprise that the NFL awarded the 2024 Super Bowl to Las Vegas and Allegiant Stadium.

The stadium, which hosts its first SRS Las Vegas Bowl tonight, will likely make a pitch to host a college football national championship game. The stadium is also angling to become the west coast neutral site college football location. For example, USC and LSU will tangle during Labor Day weekend in 2024 at Allegiant Stadium.

The Raiders are in charge of the stadium and have a stadium management consultant that believes the stadium can host 47 annual events.

The stadium project was $2 billion, including a $1.4 construction budget to build the 62,000-seat stadium and another $600 million budgeted for land acquisitions, design costs, equipment purchases etc. Southern Nevada contributed $750 million to the stadium’s construction and is using a hotel room tax increase to raise revenues that will pay off the public’s debt that will be more than $1 billion over 30 years.

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to Snel covered sports business for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle. In 2000, Snel launched, a sport-business website for Snel has also detailed the Raiders stadium for Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent.