Updated August 16, 2021 - 9:38 pm
As spectators come and go at Allegiant Stadium, officials involved with the traffic plan have been learning from each event.
The Raiders’ preseason game Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks marked the third major event at the stadium — the first for the Raiders with fans — and by all accounts the third time was the charm.
Ingress and egress for the 50,101 fans in attendance was a smooth operation Saturday, officials said in a news release Monday. Outside of a crash at the intersection of Russell Road and Valley View Boulevard, it was an orderly operation, according to Theresa Gaisser, director of the Regional Transportation Commission’s Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation.
“Traffic near the stadium was noticeably better in comparison to previous events,” Gaisser said. Traffic alerts and freeway signage served to guide motorists around the crash, she added.
Henderson resident Jack Theno, who attended the game with his family of four, said it was a completely different experience than the July 10 Garth Brooks concert.
“We came during the Garth Brooks concert and we parked in the N Lot (now the ride-hailing lot), and that was a pretty big mess-up that we had,” Theno said after the game. “We thought it (parking) was a lot more organized (than Garth Brooks). Everyone seemed to know which lot they were going to.”
Officials cited the move of the ride-hailing lot from south of the stadium across Russell to north off Dean Martin Drive as a key improvement along with added signage on roadways to better identify lane assignments.
Theno, who tailgated with multiple people in Lot B on the northwest side of the stadium, was a previous Raiders season ticket holder in Oakland. He enjoyed the experience at Allegiant Stadium but said it still was a ways away from the pregame activities at the RingCentral Coliseum in the Bay Area.
‘A whole different scene’
“We used to tailgate in Oakland a lot, so comparing it to Oakland, it was a whole different scene,” Theno said. “It was still pretty good, but it wasn’t as packed as we thought it would be and I understand because it was hot. So, we’re hoping to see a lot more people as the season goes on.”
Officials said most of the more than 6,000 spaces at onsite and adjacent lots were full of tailgaters despite the heat. They, too, said they expect tailgating volume to increase as temperatures drop.
Theno said he and his family hung around the stadium a bit after the game ended to allow the traffic to disperse. It took just over an hour for the area surrounding the stadium to return to normal, with no noticeable traffic in sight.
For those walking across the Hacienda Avenue Bridge the experience appeared to be less of an issue than previously. There were water stations at the middle of the bridge and all around the stadium, allowing eventgoers to stay hydrated. Multiple six-seater golf carts also were on hand to help transport patrons to and from the stadium.
The Raiders estimate that over 22,000 fans trekked across the Hacienda bridge for the game.
Officials attributed the smoother traffic flow in part to opening parking lots an hour earlier. Lots opened four hours ahead of kickoff, allowing for a more staggered arrival of fans. That practice will remain in place going forward.
Theno said his was one of the first vehicles in line for the parking lots around the stadium and it didn’t take long to park.
“We took the Russell (Interstate 15) exit and we left (Henderson) at about 1 o’clock and we got here at about 1:30 p.m.,” Theno said. “We were in line for about 30 or 40 minutes or so.”
Another aspect that probably helped was the RTC’s Game Day Express bus service, which shuttled fans to and from five hotels across the valley. The service drew over 6,500 people, according to the RTC.
“The Game Day Express service operated extremely well while essential transit service to residents and Deuce on the Strip service to visitors was simultaneously maintained,” Julien Francis, the commission’s deputy CEO, said in a statement. “The Game Day Express drop-off and pick-up on Dean Martin Drive, immediately adjacent to Allegiant Stadium, proved to be convenient and popular with riders.”
A slightly late arrival
Most fans made it into the stadium on time for kickoff. Erik Velasquez and his wife, Cynthia, were among those who didn’t quite make it, after driving to Las Vegas from Apple Valley, California, in the afternoon and being dropped off at the stadium by a family member. Cynthia had a knee injury, so they wanted to skip the main rush of fans into the building and arrived at the stadium’s vicinity just after the game began.
“We got here at around 6:15 p.m.,” Erik Velasquez said. “It was kind of cool, because there was no traffic. He drove us to a back road and we walked right up. We planned it that way because of her knee and we didn’t want to walk up in the crowd.”
Once inside the Velasquez’s said staff was great and even offered his wife a wheelchair to get around the stadium.
“The accommodation was awesome,” Cynthia Velasquez said. “It was a very nice experience.”
Raiders President Dan Ventrelle noted the various ongoing changes to the traffic plan and touted their success.
“Working with our partners at Clark County Public Works, RTC, NDOT and LVMPD has helped us make significant improvements to our parking, transportation and traffic management program,” Ventrelle said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate and improve the program with every game and major event as we learn more about fan preferences.”
A little over an hour after the game ended the area surrounding the stadium was quiet, with little traffic observed on Russell and Dean Martin and vehicle traffic being reopened on the Hacienda bridge. About a dozen stragglers were observed walking back toward the Strip on the sidewalks.
“As our community’s traffic management agency and transit provider, we are pleased with the continuing improvements relative to traffic congestion surrounding Allegiant Stadium,” said RTC CEO MJ Maynard in a statement. “Like the Raiders, we share a common goal to create and deliver a positive experience for fans, and we recognize the need for continual evolution and improvement of the program. While we expected strong interest from locals in our Game Day Express transit service, we were even a little surprised by the demand for the service. We will continue to work with the Raiders to improve the program while ensuring we better educate and manage the expectations of our riders.”