LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — For the first time since Allegiant Stadium opened, football fans got to enjoy a game live and in-person tonight. But it wasn't Raiders fans in attendance. Instead, a limited number of UNLV and UNR fans got to see our state's biggest college football rivalry, in-person.
It wasn't quite 65,000 screaming college football fans, like UNLV is hoping to have at Allegiant Stadium someday soon. But, the approximately 2,000 who were allowed inside saw a great game and made history as the first fans ever allowed inside. It was all made possible by strict new health protocols put in place during this pandemic.
"An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By entering the stadium and stadium grounds, you voluntarily assume all risk related to exposure to COVID-19."
But, it's a risk these football fans are willing to take, just to be among the first fans ever to take in a game in person at Allegiant Stadium.
"I'm excited to be around members of the community that support UNLV. Win, lose, or draw, this is going to be a historic night and I'm excited to be part of it," said John Hunt, a UNLV alumnus.
"This is Nevada Day. It's a great day. UNLV and Nevada are playing each other. It's a rival game. It's worth it and it's just good to get out of the house and be able to be around people and support your local team. That's right, take that cannon!" yelled Lisa Princko, an enthusiastic UNLV fan.
It's arguably the hottest ticket in town. With only about 2,000 people allowed to attend tonight's game, fans of both teams said they're just happy to be here.
"I bleed Rebel red and just to be one of the 2,000, really I was jumping up and down," said Hunt.
Before being allowed inside, every guest had to pass a health screening. And anywhere on stadium grounds, fans were required to wear a mask at all times unless they were eating or drinking. Plus, they had to stay socially distanced throughout the stadium.
It's a plan that was approved by the Southern Nevada Health District and Nevada's Department of Business and Industry, and it's one that fans seemed to be on board with.
"They're social distancing everybody with the mask and I'll go in with the mask on, of course, and follow all the guidelines and the rules. I don't have any problem," said Princko.
When the smoke from the fireworks settled and the game got underway fans said the new health protocols were a small price to pay to be able to see a live sporting event. And with a new home, comes new hope that tonight launches a new golden era of Runnin' Rebel football.
"I'm getting goosebumps because this day is, really, I hope, the beginning where UNLV football will be national. It really will catapult the Rebels to a whole new level of football," said Hunt.
Unfortunately for UNLV fans, their team came up short in this rivalry game. The final score was 37 to 19 in favor of the Wolfpack, which means UNR will be bringing the Fremont Cannon back to Reno.
UNLV's next home game is next Saturday against Fresno State, and a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend that game as well. But, after that game, UNLV will have to re-submit new safety plans before fans can be allowed at future games.