weather icon Clear

Raiders owner Mark Davis tours UNLV’s Sam Boyd Stadium

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis toured Sam Boyd Stadium on Friday and evaluated whether the UNLV field could serve as a temporary home for the NFL team if a deal is reached to build a new domed stadium near the Las Vegas Strip.

Mike Newcomb, Sam Boyd Stadium’s executive director, said the 90-minute tour went well and that Davis came away feeling positive about the possibility of playing Raiders games there.

“They’re really excited about Las Vegas,” Newcomb said of the Raiders. “Mr. Davis had never been to Sam Boyd before, and I think he was surprised and excited about how nice it was.”

“The main thing was to see everything,” Newcomb said. “I know Mr. Davis is interested in Las Vegas, and if we can accommodate him, we would love to be able to help.”

The stadium, which opened in 1971 as the Las Vegas Silver Bowl, underwent a renovation in 1999 that included a new press box, luxury suites, club seats and other amenities. Last year, a new $1.2 million artificial turf field was installed at the east valley stadium. Sam Boyd currently seats 35,500 people, though Newcomb said an expansion in the north end zone could boost capacity to 45,000.

Included in Davis’ tour were the locker rooms, long a source of unhappiness for former UNLV head coaches, as well as stadium parking. He also inspected the playing surface. The Raiders currently play in O.co Coliseum, which seats 53,250 for football — the lowest capacity in the NFL — and has a natural grass field.

The tour was Davis’ second known trip to Las Vegas in the past three months. UNLV adviser Don Snyder, football coach Tony Sanchez, school President Len Jessup and athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy were photographed with Davis on the Twitter account for Las Vegas Sands Corp. after touring the stadium.

Davis, who is staying at The Venetian, did not return a phone call seeking comment. Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese, whose company operates The Venetian and has been leading the push for a new $1.3 billion stadium in the Strip resort corridor, said the company had no comment on Davis’ visit.

Jessup also did not comment on the tour. University spokesman Tony Allen provided a statement: “The university was asked to accommodate a tour of Sam Boyd Stadium today for Las Vegas Sands officials and Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis, and we appreciate their interest in UNLV and our facilities.”

Davis met with Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson and Wynn Resorts Chairman Steve Wynn in late January when Las Vegas Sands first proposed building a domed football stadium near UNLV. The facility was discussed as a new home for special events, the Rebels and the Raiders. The Raiders applied to the NFL for relocation from Oakland but were rejected in mid-January when the Rams were allowed to move from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

Last week, consultants for Las Vegas Sands and Majestic Realty, partners in the planned 65,000-seat stadium, told the 11-member Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee about the benefits the facility could bring to Southern Nevada. The presentation had a heavy emphasis on the potential of attracting a NFL team.

Craig Cavileer, executive vice president of Majestic Realty, and other speakers estimated the venue would attract 26 new special events — football games, sporting events, concerts or shows — resulting in $785.6 million in direct and indirect spending and an estimated $49.4 million in new tax revenue. The current stadium proposal seeks $780 million in public financing. Private investors would put up $420 million, although Las Vegas Sands has said those numbers are not final and are likely to change.

The Raiders have agreed to play the 2016 season in Oakland on a one-year lease. However, they have no home beyond this season, and Friday’s meeting clearly was a fact-finding mission.

“I think they wanted to get an initial view of the overall picture (of Sam Boyd),” Newcomb said. “But I think they liked what they saw, and we left it open for them to come back and visit anytime.”

There was no discusssion about playing outdoors in September, when temperatures are still in the triple-digits. The Rebels have played in the heat since UNLV started its football program in 1968. When the Arizona Cardinals played at Sun Devil Stadium, they dealt with Phoenix’s September heat by playing their first few games on the road and playing home openers at night.

If the Raiders are looking at Sam Boyd Stadium as a temporary home, professional football has some history at the venue.

In 1994, the stadium housed a Canadian Football League team, the Posse. In 2001, the Las Vegas Outlaws played there in the XFL, a made-for-television league created by pro wrestling promoter Vince McMahon and NBC.

Both ventures lasted only one season. Pro football had another run in Las Vegas in 2009, when the Locomotives played in the United Football League. The Locos won the first two UFL titles, but the league folded in 2012.

Sam Boyd Stadium wouldn’t be the first college stadium to serve as temporary home for an NFL team, but it would be among the smallest. For the past two seasons, the Minnesota Vikings have played at the University of Minnesota’s 52,525-seat TCF Bank Stadium while awaiting the completion of 66,792-seat U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings paid for millions of dollars in improvements to TCF Bank Stadium to better accommodate their games. In 1997, the Tennessee Titans played at the 62,380-seat Liberty Bowl, home of the University of Memphis. In 1998, the Titans played at 40,550-seat Vanderbilt Stadium while 68,143-seat Nissan Stadium was being built in Nashville. And the Chicago Bears played at the University of Illinois’ 69,249-seat Memorial Stadium in 2002 while Soldier Field was being renovated.

Friday’s meeting comes one week after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would consider allowing a franchise to play in Las Vegas. Previously, the league has strongly opposed the idea of America’s gambling capital hosting a team. But Goodell said the league would have to address gambling if Davis wanted to move the Raiders to Las Vegas.

“Those are things we’d have to deal with,” Goodell said at the end of the league meetings. “We would have to understand the impact on us. Each owner would have a vote; it would be a factor many owners would have to balance, the league would have to balance.”

Goodell didn’t reject the idea of an NFL franchise in Las Vegas.

“I think their ultimate decision is a long ways off,” Goodell said. “There are several cities that have a tremendous interest in the Raiders. I’m hopeful also that Oakland will be one of those and that we can avoid any relocation to start with. … But until we’ve got a hard proposal that really put that in front of us, we’d have to understand what the ramifications of that are.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj. Bill Bradley and Ana Ley contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson suspended 6 games for PED use

Arizona Cardinals All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson has been suspended for the first six games of the 2019 season for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy.