LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's the final goodbye to Sam Boyd Stadium. The UNLV Rebels will play their last home game Saturday.
The stadium holds a lot of memories for former UNLV football players; some who are sad to say goodbye, but who are also excited about the move to Allegiant Stadium.
Dave Pappas is with the UNLV Football Foundation. He’s also a former player.
“I haven’t seen my friends for 30 years and having that reaction and seeing your friend from across the room and running over and getting a hug,” said Pappas. “It brought back all those moments of the anguish, the blood, the sweat, the tears and all that effort."
He remembers the roar of the crowd and the band playing them on. More than 30 years later, Pappas still feels all that exhilaration. He was a defensive lineman from 1988 to 1991.
"You're out there and all the great plays you had. And also the hardest I've ever been hit in my life was there,” he recalled. “It was actually San Jose. And hearing the crowd, landing on my head and running off the field."
It’s UNLV’s 49th season at Sam Boyd Stadium. Next season the Rebels will play in and share Allegiant Stadium with the Raiders.
Mark Wallington is the assistant athletic director for communications at UNLV.
"Las Vegas was a much smaller place when it opened way out in the desert, “said Wallington. "Now it seems a lot closer, but when they built it, it was way out in the middle of nowhere. So, a lot people grew up with it. I met my wife there. My kids have grown up going to games there. So, it means a lot to this community because it was the first big venue for gathering here in Las Vegas."
The former student athletes reconnected over a happy hour spread at Sierra Gold Friday night. They will also reunite on the field where they won two bowl games Saturday. More than 200 of them will be a part of a special goodbye.
"It is going to be an emotional time,” Wallington said.” I think we're doing a firework show with to pay tribute win or lose. And I think there's going to be some tears out on the field and in the stands."