weather icon Partly Cloudy

Longtime Raiders fans frustrated by passive Las Vegas fans

Wayne Mabry likes to stand when he attends Raiders home games. Used to, anyway, before he was badgered by surrounding spectators at Allegiant Stadium who don’t share his enthusiasm and implore him to sit.

So he reluctantly watches from the literal edge of his seat instead and hopes that fans in Las Vegas realize the role they can play in their team’s success.

“Everybody wants to sit on their ass,” said Mabry, who doubles as “The Violator” on game days as one of the franchise’s most passionate fans. “They need to put them at the baseball stadium over there near Red Rock and let them watch the game there. This is not a sit-on-your-ass event.”

The Raiders are 5-10 at Allegiant Stadium since relocating last year in Las Vegas and have not yet developed the kind of raucous support that the team had in Oakland. They’re also 9-4 on the road and will play the rival Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium before a crowd famous for its unmitigated devotion to its hometown team.

“You want to win at home,” excitable Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby said. “It’s got to get better. There’s no excuse. … It can be frustrating.”

Home sweet home?

Consider this: The Raiders sold out of their personal seat licenses in January 2020, foreshadowing what should have been sellout after sellout in a city supposedly thirsting for professional sports.

But they’ve yet to fill Allegiant Stadium with a capacity crowd this season, and gobs of empty seats have been prevalent throughout the season — most recently last Sunday as the Raiders played the Washington Football Team in a pivotal matchup between teams jockeying for playoff positioning in their respective conferences.

Not even the gravity of the long-awaited regular-season opener Sept. 14 against the Baltimore Ravens on “Monday Night Football” could prompt Las Vegas to pack Allegiant Stadium.

Average attendance inside the 65,000-seat stadium is 61,090.

Swarms of opposing fans contribute to that average by flocking from their respective markets to Las Vegas when their teams play the Raiders. Those who root for the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, Chiefs and Washington have been particularly impactful this season by cheering as loud — or louder — than Raiders fans during games.

Opposing players have definitely noticed.

“I’m not used to playing away games where you have a crowd that can rival the home crowd,” Chicago tight end Jesper Horsted said in October after beating the Raiders in a game in which the noise from the opposing crowd no doubt contributed to the Raiders committing 10 penalties for 82 yards. “They were making so much noise … you saw a lot of penalties that are caused solely because of that.”

Ardent Raiders supporters like Mabry have been taken aback by the way opposing fans have infiltrated their home stadium. Fellow Raiders die-hard Christian Ruiz said it “doesn’t make any sense.”

“It’s like, ‘Wow, what’s going on here?’” Ruiz said, rhetorically.

“I love the entertainment there. That’s on a different level than we’ve ever had in Oakland,” Mabry said, acknowledging the various pregame, halftime and in-game acts. “It’s Vegas. So they had to raise that bar. But the fan part …”

To that point, a majority of the Raiders fans who do attend home games tend to be more tame than they were in, say, Oakland, where they were notoriously rowdy.

“From my point of view, it may take two or three seasons just for them to let that sink in, that the team feeds off your energy,” Mabry said. “If you’re sitting on your ass, ain’t no energy. I’m speaking as a fan. Forget corporate. We’re talking in the seats.

“Me personally? It’s like I’m in some visitor’s (expletive) stadium.”

Road warriors?

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said fans in Las Vegas are “learning” about when to be loud and when to be quiet, learning how they can positively impact their team.

“NFL football is new to them, so we hit a big play in the red zone and it’s really loud and it stays really loud,” said Carr, who would prefer that fans get quiet more quickly after a big play so his teammates can hear his audibles at the line of scrimmage.

The Raiders were as good at home as they were on the road — or better — during five of Carr’s six seasons in Oakland.

The veteran signal caller said he’s always loved playing at Arrowhead Stadium despite unfavorable results — all losses until a 40-32 victory there Oct. 11, 2020.

“Their fans aren’t so nice to us, but still it’s a really cool atmosphere to be in. It’s super-loud,” Carr said. “I’ve always liked playing in loud stadiums anyway because it’s more you are just in your own helmet. You don’t have to hear anything else or any of the chatter. You just play football, and I’ve enjoyed that.”

He said he hasn’t noticed a lack of enthusiasm from Raiders fans at Allegiant Stadium. “I think it’s a great atmosphere. It’s super-energetic. The only difference is just situational football.”

Crosby said Wednesday that he too loves playing on the road, “especially this time of year.”

“It’s December. Every single game matters,” he explained. “The best football is being played at this time of the year. Details. Everything matters. You’ve got to love it.”

The Raiders were 6-2 away from home last year and sport a 3-2 mark this year with three games to play. A trip to Cleveland looms next week, and a trip to Indianapolis for a Jan. 2 tilt against the Colts caps the road schedule this season.

Divisional games against the Broncos and Chargers wrap up their home schedule.

Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia said that the coaches and players are well aware of their struggles at home — and successes on the road. But he couldn’t explain the issue or quantify the reasoning.

“Maybe it’s the routine of what Friday looks like, then we come in Saturday, and we get on a plane and we’re together and we’re closer,” Bisaccia said Wednesday amid his prep for Kansas City. “I wish I could tell you and bottle it and make it happen at home as well. But I do hope that we can go on the road this week and play well again, whatever that routine may be.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

Like and follow Vegas Nation
Gus Bradley hopes to build on Raiders success in Indianapolis

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley coached just one season in Las Vegas. The Raiders were 14th in the league in yards allowed per game after rankings 25th in 2020.