LAS VEGAS, NV. – Professional sports move to Las Vegas dates back to October 2017 when the Las Vegas Knights held their historic home opener at T-Mobile Arena.
The beginning of what would be a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but ending in a loss to the Washington Capitals.
A year later, the WNBA’s San Antonio Stars announces that they will be the next franchise to move to Las Vegas and become the Aces.
The Oakland Raiders decision to move its franchise to Las Vegas would be next in line, screaming financial opportunity not only the team but its eventual corporate sponsors.
In January, MGM Sports International became the official gaming partner of the Las Vegas Raiders.
A no brainer for company execs when they found out Raider Nation was coming to town.
“There are Raiders fans everywhere and for one they travel well. I just think they have national recognition, their brand is a great identity and it fits well in the Las Vegas market,” says Senior VP, Sports & Sponsorships for MGM Sports International Lance Evans.
A perfect partnership with the the intent of yes, making money, but to give back to that loyal fanbase that makes Raider Nation so special.
“We get rights to use the Raiders mark so we can do pre and postgame parties for fans before and after games,” says Evans.”Then we get to associate with marketing collateral with signage in the stadium. We brand a club in the stadium that our customers can go and enjoy.”
That was until the COVID-19 outbreak.
MGM was forced to close locations for a short period of time.
On top of that, the Raiders sent out a letter to fans and season ticket holders in August saying that the 2020 regular season would be played without fans.
That’s about the same time that construction if the brand new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium was completed.
Evans says, “You’ve got to feel bad for the team, right?”
Evans adds, “They built arguably the most impressive stadium in all of sports and to not be able to have your first game in front of your new hometown fans.”
Forbes Magazine said months ago that an entire season without fans could cost the Raiders an estimated $571 million.
While it might not come to that, Week 1 Allegiant’s 65,000 seats were empty.
Despite the temporary loss, Evans says that both MGM and the Las Vegas Raiders are working around the clock to give fans the proper gameday experience.
Evans says, “We’re preparing to make sure that football fans regardless of where they come from will have an experience to look forward to. So, they may not be able to go to the stadium to watch the game but we’re going to create a football experience at a good percentage of out properties.”