NFL discussing options for Vegas Raiders, 2020 season amid pandemic

Posted at 10:40 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 10:58:40-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league will be ready to play when the season starts in September.

But being ready to play during a global pandemic means having contingency plans, including the possibility of the Raiders playing their first season in Allegiant Stadium with 65,000 empty seats.

"If we can't, as a fan base, populate around each other, that's going to be the strangest season ever," said Wayne Mabry, known as The Violator.

Mabry has been among the Silver and Black faithful for more than 30 years. While he says going to games is his therapy, there's also a kind of poetry in the unprecedented.

"This is like, us ending up in Oakland was the end of an era. This must be the abyss between that era and that one, the next one coming. We're in the abyss right now," said Mabry.

To the NFL, the abyss means uncharted territory.

In a statement, the league says it is committed to protecting the health of everyone involved and will base decisions on the latest guidance from health officials:

"We will continue to plan for the season and will be prepared to adjust as necessary, just as we have done with free agency, the draft and now the offseason program."

Whether NFL games are played with no fans, some fans, or a full house means a significant impact economically.

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"Stadium revenue is a huge part of the NFL's revenue chain," said Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis.

Aguero said, on average, NFL stadiums bring in up to $440 million a year - but the impact of not having fans goes well beyond that number.

"If you don't have fans in the stadium, you don't necessarily have people flying in on a plane, staying in a hotel, going to a restaurant, spending money on things they might otherwise spend. That is also a challenge not only for the NFL but for Las Vegas," said Aguero.

He also says while health and safety come first, no one wins when fans can't get in the stadium.

But Raider Nation is tough and will remain faithful until they find themselves on the other side of the abyss - in Allegiant Stadium.

"Either way, we're going to root, we're going to support, we're going to yell, we're going to cry. We're going to cry. All the emotions don't leave," said Rich Villa, a Raiders fan and season ticket holder.