LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Yesterday the Las Vegas Raiders sent out a press release announcing that fans planning to attend home games inside Allegiant stadium would have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter. Social media was quickly filled with fans reacting on both sides of the issue.
Today, the team held a press conference to answer questions about their new vaccine requirement and how it will work.
Raiders' owner Mark Davis led the press conference at which he said it wasn't an easy decision, but ultimately, it was the only way the team could host sold-out home games without requiring fans to wear masks.
Recently, Allegiant Stadium had struggled to enforce a statewide mask mandate at large-scale events like the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final and the Raiders preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. At both events, there were a lot of unmasked fans in the stands.
Davis said the policy was nearly impossible to police and that's a big reason why the team opted for a vaccine requirement instead of a mask mandate.
Davis admitted that he's very concerned about alienating the fans who are adamantly against getting the shot but didn't see a better option.
"When you look at it, it's not just about you. It's the person sitting next to you, and that's who we're trying to protect as well. I think everything that happens in today's world, it's almost 50/50 when you get into these types of environments or these types of decisions, and we're willing to make the tough decision. And we hope not to lose any Raider fans because they're the most important thing to us," said Davis.
Here's how the process will work on game day. Everyone will have to present proof they've received a COVID-19 vaccine before they're allowed to enter Allegiant Stadium. But instead of showing your vaccination card, you will have to show them your digital health pass on an app on your smartphone.
The Raiders have partnered with a company called Clear. You can download their app for free and then you'll have to upload three things: your vaccine card, the front and back of a government-issued ID, and a selfie. The app will take care of the rest, developing a digital health pass with a QR code that can be scanned by stadium officials on game day to verify your vaccination status. You only have to go through this process once and it will work for the whole year.
Allegiant Stadium will also be offering vaccinations on-site on game days. Fully vaccinated fans will not have to wear a mask inside the stadium, but partially vaccinated fans and children ages 2-11 will have to wear one.
If you're a season ticket holder and you don't want to get vaccinated, you do have the option to get a full refund, or you can rollover your tickets to next year. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden gave his thoughts on the Raiders becoming the first NFL franchise to require fans to get vaccinated.
"I just support the decisions that are being made. Every state, every team is probably going to have a different view on this. I support the decision that was made. I'll be anxious to see as many Raider fans as possible with no mask. That's what I'm excited about. They can make more noise that way. But I know it's a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I do support the direction we're heading and I encourage everyone I know to get the vaccine and come and join us," said Gruden.
Stadium and team officials still haven't figured out how to separate or identify fans who are partially vaccinated vs. those who are fully vaccinated so they will know who is supposed to be wearing and mask and who doesn't need to inside the stadium during games. They said they are working on developing a solution as soon as possible.