LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — If and when the 2020 NFL season kicks off, the Raiders could open their new Las Vegas era in an empty Allegiant Stadium.
"If we can't as a fan base populate around each other, that's going to be the strangest season ever," said Wayne Mabry, a longtime Raiders superfan known as "The Violator."
So far, the coronavirus pandemic has forced every major sports league to cancel, postpone or at least consider a different kind of season. And while the decision ultimately lies with individual leagues, the president of the Miami Dolphins Tom Garfinkel layed out initial plans to ABC News of how Hard Rock Stadium could operate this season.
"We would have times to come in for different security at different gates so people would be separated out, in terms of when they enter the stadium. We would exit stadium much like a church environment or something where each row exits so people aren't filing out all at the same time in a herd," said Garfinkel, of social distancing measures that would likely be put in place.
Garfinkel said the stadium would likely drop capacity from around 65,000 to 15,000 to practice social distancing effectively. Instead of waiting in line, fans would likely order food and drinks from their seats and go pick it up, much like how restaurants are operating curbside service. Cleaning and disinfecting throughout the stadium would be ramped up.
While the health and safety of fans, players and personnel remains top of mind, the NFL will likely take a sizable hit to revenue. In Las Vegas, not being able to pack a brand new, $2 billion stadium would be a blow - not just to the Raiders, but to all the other businesses banking on the upcoming season.
"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. And that is a challenge not only for the NFL but for a city like Las Vegas," said Jeremy Aguero of Applied Analysis.
We reached out to the Raiders and the Stadium Authority to see if they're looking into similar plans but have not yet heard back.