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After 993 days of work, Allegiant Stadium is (mostly) done

Updated July 31, 2020 - 12:59 pm

Nine-hundred-ninety-three days after ground was broken on what was then a 62-acre lot of dirt, the $2 billion Allegiant Stadium now holds its own on the Las Vegas skyline.

Workers hit the long-targeted July 31 substantial completion date, marking the end of major construction on the 65,000-seat home of the Raiders and UNLV football.

The Silver and Black’s “field of dreams,” as team owner Mark Davis referred to the stadium during the groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 13, 2017, is about ready to go.

In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Gov. Brian Sandoval, from left, Raiders owner Mark Davis, an ...
In this Nov. 13, 2017, file photo, Gov. Brian Sandoval, from left, Raiders owner Mark Davis, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, during the Raiders stadium groundbreaking ceremony in Las Vegas. Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco

“The substantial completion is absolutely a milestone in this project. It’s unbelievable how fast this thing has come together,” Davis said. “We still have to finish the job. There’s a punch list of things that need to get done and will get done.”

The finishing touches Davis mentioned won’t keep the stadium from hosting events — whenever that day comes. The stadium project’s closeout date is Nov. 30.

Clark County on Thursday issued an updated temporary certificate of occupancy for the facility, allowing full occupancy of all areas of the stadium.

The stadium employed thousands of construction workers throughout the building process and is expected to create 6,000 permanent jobs. The team and its various partners are in the process of hiring 4,500 part-time positions.

“I am pleased to see the stadium reach the substantial completion date, a major milestone in any construction project,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak, who played a key role in the stadium process. “This stadium has already proved to be a great thing for this community, including the creation of many jobs.”

Las Vegas Raiders fan Paul Davis, of Santa Maria, Calif., points to Allegiant Stadium while rec ...
Las Vegas Raiders fan Paul Davis, of Santa Maria, Calif., points to Allegiant Stadium while recording with his phone in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders, is slated for substantial completion on July 31. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

Stadium project history

The project required a special session of the state Legislature in October 2016 to come up with a formula for funding the stadium.

The final breakdown included $750 million from the public, via an 0.88 percent room tax on hotel rooms in Clark County, with the remaining $1.2 billion funded by a combination of personal seat license sales and loans from the NFL and Bank of America.

July 31 was pushed as the completion date since early on, and despite a few hiccups, the crew of thousands of trade workers delivered.

Crews navigated various issues that could have delayed the project, including the delivery of steel in spring of 2019, issues with the intricate cable net roof last fall and winter and the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

This Nov. 25, 2019, file photo shows construction of the Al Davis memorial torch during an Alle ...
This Nov. 25, 2019, file photo shows construction of the Al Davis memorial torch during an Allegiant Stadium tour in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Left_Eye_Images

“I can’t compliment the workers enough,” Davis said. “They took so much pride in building this stadium, and throughout the virus, throughout everything, they continued working and we wouldn’t be here without them. They are absolutely the MVPs of this whole thing.”

Season outlook

On Tuesday, Davis took his “usual” midnight walk at the stadium and marveled at what has come to life.

“I was in the building on the 50-yard line again, just looking around,” Davis recalled. “There’s a lot of diamonds in the rough there. It’s absolutely magnificent.”

Davis wants nothing more than for fans to have the same experience and be able to take in the sights and sounds of Allegiant Stadium this fall.

The north entry area at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The stadium, ...
The north entry area at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders, is slated for substantial completion on July 31. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

The Raiders are slated to play their first game in the stadium versus the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 21 on “Monday Night Football.”

The stadium’s other tenant, UNLV’s football team, will be relocating from aging Sam Boyd Stadium. The Rebels’ home for decades sits 9 miles from campus. In contrast, Allegiant Stadium is just 3 miles from the school’s main campus.

“As a program with lofty goals, we are ecstatic about the completion of Allegiant,” UNLV football coach Marcus Arroyo said. “This is a state-of-the-art, world-class facility, and we look forward with excitement to giving our players, our fans and entire UNLV family the opportunity to enjoy a first-class college football experience. There simply is no equal to our new stadium — and we are working hard now so that we build a lasting legacy of success worthy of our new home.”

UNLV’s first game at Allegiant Stadium is scheduled for Oct. 10 versus Wyoming, though the school is trying to arrange a game against TCU for Aug. 29.

The first planned event at the stadium, a sold-out Garth Brooks concert, was rescheduled from Aug. 22 to Feb. 27.

Currently, Nevada does not allow sporting events to be held with fans present, and the state has yet to say when fans will be allowed to attend large events. But the NFL asked teams to block off the first six to eight rows in stadiums if fans are allowed in.

Eight rows equals about 8,000 fans at Allegiant Stadium, Davis said.

Davis is not on board with that plan and said either everyone will be able to attend or no one, not even him.

“If 8,000 people can’t go to that inaugural game, who does get to go?” Davis questioned. “I still don’t think it’s fair or equitable to tell 57,000 people you can go and tell 8,000 people you can’t go. So I had to make a decision, it’s with all or none. Right now I’m looking at none.”

Signage and the box office area at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 30, 2020. T ...
Signage and the box office area at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 30, 2020. The stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders, is slated for substantial completion on July 31. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @csstevensphoto

If fans have to wait a little longer to get inside, Davis can too, noting that he and Raider Nation have already waited this long.

With or without fans, the stadium can’t be missed as it sits just off Interstate 15 in the shadow of the Las Vegas Strip.

With the structure complete and the building illuminated at night by a light ribbon outlining the facility, the stadium isn’t lost in a city already known for its bright lights.

“The stadium certainly has changed the landscape of Las Vegas, which you can really see now as you fly into McCarran International Airport,” Sisolak said. “There are only 32 cities that get to call themselves NFL cities, and it’s really an honor that Las Vegas, representing Nevada, can be one of them.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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