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Raiders first season with fans at Allegiant surpasses officials’ expectations

Updated February 2, 2022 - 6:18 am

The Raiders’ first season with fans allowed in Allegiant Stadium saw total paid attendance of 550,673 for nine home games in Las Vegas.

Raiders games were a hot ticket with an average of 61,185 paid attendance during the regular season.

Despite the robust numbers, actual attendance for some games varied as the pandemic, among other things, kept some fans who purchased tickets from attending games.

The actual attendance for the two Raiders games that took place during the third quarter of 2021 were noted to be below the paid attendance, according to a report provided by the team to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority.

The Sept. 13 Monday Night Football game between the Raiders and Baltimore Ravens — the first home game for the team in Las Vegas in which fans were allowed to attend — had a paid attendance of 61,756, but the actual attendance was noted to be 57,000, according to the report. Similarly, the Raiders’ Sept. 26 game against the Miami Dolphins had an announced paid attendance of 59,311, but the actual attendance was 50,101.

“There’s a couple of things that happened there, obviously with COVID-19 we had some no-shows that were higher than it would be during a normal game,” said Jeremy Aguero, Raiders chief operations and analytics officer. “We also had some challenges relative to normal administrative processing of tickets.”

With season tickets selling out before the stadium was even complete, the only way some fans were able to buy tickets for games at Allegiant was through the secondary market. That also played a role in the paid versus actual attendance stats, Aguero said.

“There was a learning curve relative to all that,” Aguero said.

Visitors abound

Still, with virtually every seat in the stadium already sold for Raiders games, the team didn’t lose ticket revenue for the no-shows.

With fans of both the Raiders and opposing teams highly interested in checking out the stadium, Raiders tickets on the secondary market were among the hottest in the NFL.

Secondary ticket marketplace StubHub said Raiders home games were the No.2 hottest ticket, just behind America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

The highest amount paid for a ticket for a game this season at Allegiant Stadium was $4,241.99 for the season opener versus the Ravens.

That game, which saw the Raiders win in an overtime thriller, also had the highest average ticket price on StubHub for the season, with an average ticket price of $593.32.

If you build it, out-of-state fans will come

The five best-selling Raiders home games of the season on StubHub were, in order: Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 14; Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13; Chicago Bears on Oct. 10; Los Angeles Chargers on Jan. 9; and Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 24.

The stadium also proved to be a draw for fans in other cities. Aguero said the highest percentage of opposing fans that attended a Raiders’ home game at Allegiant Stadium in 2021 was about 33 percent. About 50 percent of attendees for one game were from out of state, but that was a mix of Raiders fans and opposing fans that traveled to Las Vegas for the game.

Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, who also serves as chair of the stadium authority, said the robust out-of-state attendance is something that was envisioned as the stadium plan was put together. Indeed, a key economic argument for building the stadium was it would bring visitors to Las Vegas who would not otherwise have come, Hill said.

Initial estimates were that about 27 percent of stadium event attendees would be from out of town, or around 500,000 of the projected 1.9 million visitors for Raiders games and other stadium events. But during the first six months of events with fans at the stadium, there were over 1 million attendees, with 450,000 of those, or about 40 percent, from out of town, Hill said.

On pace for 800K

“Almost as much as we projected in an entire year in just six months,” Hill said. “We are on the pace for 800,000 people to come because of the events in the stadium… Which means we have a stadium and we’re going to be generating more in taxes than we are investing in the room tax… The stadium has worked.”

The $2 billion stadium was built in part by a public contribution of $750 million, approved during a special session of the Nevada Legislature in 2016. That public portion is paid by a 0.88 percent room tax on hotel rooms in Clark County. Since the fund began collecting room tax revenue in March 2017, $190.1 million has been collected as of October, the latest revenue data available.

Over time, the Raiders hope the amount of opposing fans showing up for games decreases, with hopes for more Silver and Black in the crowd whether they’re from Las Vegas or elsewhere.

“Our owner (Mark Davis) is not ambiguous for one moment that he wants every fan in every seat and wants them in a Raiders’ jersey,” Aguero said. “We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that happens.”

Stadium experience

Not only did fans show up to get their first glimpse of the NFL in Las Vegas and the new $2 billion building in the desert, those who attended rated their experience at the facility tops in the league.

“There’s something called the Voice of the Fan, it’s a survey done by the NFL at all the different venues and Allegiant Stadium came out No. 1 in the entire NFL for overall guest experience,” Aguero said. “In terms of gameday staff, it’s something we’re really proud of. You open up a new building, go through COVID-19, we’re delivering not only the promise to our fans, but the promise to the community.”

Aside from the games themselves, the Raiders added entertainment value to games by regularly featuring well-known stars before, during and after games. That included musical performances by rockers Santana and Sammy Hagar, rappers Ludacris, Lil Jon, Ice Cube and Too Short and the National Anthem sung by stars such as Gladys Knight, Vanessa Hudgens and Montell Jordan.

Raiders greats were also honored at multiple games, including ceremonies for newly minted Hall of Famers Charles Woodson and Tom Flores. Additionally, the Raiders paid tribute to late coaching great John Madden following his death last month, bringing in his family to light the Al Davis Memorial Torch.

The stadium also was ranked as the facility fans felt most safe at during NFL games this season.

The staff was able to rank high on the NFL’s survey even as the stadium is short-staffed. Data provided to the stadium authority noted that 3,743 people were employed at the stadium in the third quarter of last year with 1,008 open positions. It notes there are 4,751 total staff positions designated for Allegiant.

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

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