Raiders Announce No Fans Will Attend Home Games for Inaugural Las Vegas Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2020

The former Oakland Raiders training camp facility is seen on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, in Alameda, Calif. The Raiders finally are settled in Las Vegas, at least partially. The team was able to open its new training facility in nearby Henderson, Nev., this week. About 70 team members, no players are allowed unless they are rehabilitating injuries, were on hand Monday at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center, a 335,000-square-foot complex. It's the first time the Raiders have gotten their football operations personnel in the same building since NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered team facilities shut in late March because of the coronavirus pandemic. In the Raiders' case, that was their building in Alameda. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Raiders' games in Las Vegas this season will happen in front of empty stands. 

The organization announced in an statement to season-ticket holders that they would not allow any fans to attend the team's home games this season, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk:

"There is nothing more important to the Raider Organization than the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff, stadium workers and fans. After intensive consultation with healthcare officials and state and community leaders, we have made the difficult decision to play the Las Vegas Raiders 2020 inaugural season at Allegiant Stadium without fans in attendance. This decision is based on our commitment to protect the health of our fans and the entire community in response to the coronavirus pandemic affecting us all."

A number of teams have either announced or are expected to announce they won't have fans in attendance in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the New York Giants and Jets and the Los Angeles Rams. Other teams are pending based on city regulations, while all teams will almost assuredly operate at less than full capacity. 

The other question regarding the NFL's plan of action for the season, however, is whether the large roster sizes, full-contact nature of the sport and in-season travel will put players at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus. 

The NBA and NHL, for instance, have had great success in limiting the amount of positive cases by operating in bubble environments. The NFL won't be taking that approach. MLB, which also has proceeded without a bubble, has already had to postpone games involving the Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals after positive cases of the coronavirus within the traveling parties of those organizations. 

Cleveland Browns superstar Odell Beckham Jr. told Lane Florsheim of the Wall Street Journal two weeks ago that he'd be fine with the 2020 season being called off entirely. 

"We're not ready for football season. So why are we trying to push forward?" he asked. "I just feel like the season shouldn't happen, and I'm prepared for it to not happen and I wouldn't mind not having it."

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported Monday that Beckham isn't planning on opting out, however. To date, no major superstars have opted out of the season. 

Regardless, proceeding without fans is not only a major revenue loss for teams, but also a major disappointment for a team like the Raiders, which was set to debut in a new city and a new stadium this year. Fully unveiling that stadium to fans will have to wait a year.