'Raider Nation, Welcome Home' — Allegiant Stadium Opens to Silver and Black Fans
"Commencement" is an apt one-word description of what unfolded last Saturday, when Allegiant Stadium welcomed the Raider Nation for the first time ever with the celebration of an ending and a new beginning. Ending what seemed like an eternal search for a true home befitting this historic organization at this time. Beginning to settle into a palace elevated in the desert, a new chapter in the six-decade life of the Silver and Black.
The familiar refrain, boldfaced Silver and Black bordered, can't be repeated enough: The Greatness of the Raiders is in its future. And that future is now!
Las Vegas Raiders Owner Mark Davis led a VVIP list of invitees to share in the momentous ribbon-cutting event prior to leading the Raider Nation into this Las Vegas palace, where he stopped in the sea of humanity to engage with the throng that followed. Davis beamed proudly, as if he'd just received the keys to a new home, while standing on the mezzanine level of the Ford Plaza looking down at an enthusiastic crowd amassed below at the site of the Raider Image and the Legacy Bricks.
"I just want to say, Raider Nation, welcome home. Let's cut this thing!," said Davis before giving way to the illustrious group of scissor-bearers ready to cut into a slice of history—the First Lady of Raider Nation Carol Davis, Raiders Alumnus and Pro Football of Famer Jim Otto, Raiders President Dan Ventrelle, Raiders Senior VP, Stadium Development & Operations Tom Blanda, Raiders Executive Larry Delsen and Raiders Alumnus and Sands Corporation Executive Napoleon McCallum.
That Silver and Black contingent was joined by entertainment star Marie Osmond, music legend Carlos Santana, 1968 Olympic Gold Medalist Tommie Smith, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Urban Chamber of Commerce Las Vegas President Ken Evans, Allegiant Air CEO Maury Gallagher, Resorts World Las Vegas Executive Doni Taube, Resorts World Las Vegas President Scott Sibella, UNLV VP Bo Bernhard, UFC Executive Lawrence Epstein, Applied Analysis Executive Jeremy Aguero, Sands Corporation Executive Andy Abboud, Westgate Las Vegas President Cami Christensen, Nevada COVID-19 Task Force Chairman Jim Murren, Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft, Clark County Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, LVCVA CEO Steve Hill, Congresswoman Dina Titus, Laborer's Union Executive Tommy White in cutting the ribbon while being showered with confetti and serenaded by The Autumn Wind.
Davis vowed to not watch a Raiders football game in Allegiant Stadium until fans could be in attendance with him. He kept to his promise and enjoyed the Raiders' first preseason game Saturday alongside the first group of fans who joined him in person in Las Vegas to root on the Silver and Black, which impressed on the field with a 20-7 win over Seattle.
A full season went by with no fans being able to attend games in the brand-new Allegiant Stadium. The COVID-19 global pandemic forced all NFL teams to have limited to no capacity throughout the 2020 season. In 2021, a sense of normalcy is beginning to return -- especially within professional sports and the NFL.
Saturday was a must-see event in true Las Vegas fashion from start to finish. Singer-songwriter Judith Hill re-enacted her performance during the November 2017 stadium groundbreaking with a repeat rendition of the appropriately lyrical Andra Day hit "Rise Up." As was the case during the groundbreaking, Hill sang while playing a grand piano and was once again joined by the Las Vegas House of Blues Choir. Concurrently on the field, several hundred members representing the Las Vegas community who worked tirelessly to make the opening possible—frontline workers, medical personnel, first responders, construction workers and the Nevada National Guard—lined up and were honored with a standing ovation.
The Al Davis Memorial Torch was lit by inspirational philanthropist and medical expert Dr. Miriam Adelson, who handled the prestigious honor with grace and elegance. Dr. Adelson is majority shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, a company founded by her late husband, Sheldon G. Adelson. The Adelson family has donated hundreds of millions of dollars in support of local and international causes. She was a fitting selection to light the torch in memory of, and in tribute to, her late husband and Al Davis, who declared that "The fire that burns brightest in the Raiders organization is the will to win" as the stadium would not be a reality without their support.
Legendary entertainer Marie Osmond hit every note with her traditional rendition of the National Anthem, working fans into a frenzy leading up to kickoff. Lifelong Raiders fan and entertainment superstar Carlos Santana headlined the halftime show and was accompanied by the newly minted house band, which will perform at every Raiders home game. Santana's two song set ended with an encore-asking performance of his hit "Maria Maria" that left fans roused for second half action on the field.
Head Coach Jon Gruden was overjoyed to pick up a victory in his first game in Las Vegas with fans. "It was great to have the Raider fans out there," Gruden said. "I'm kind of numb to see world coming back together again and to be in this stadium with these fans again. It just warms my heart."
August 14, 2021 is yet another historic timeline in the rich annals of the Raiders. What happened at Allegiant Stadium on Saturday was not only a moment to relive, but also a preview for what's to come inside of what Davis tabbed "The Death Star, where our opponent's dreams come to die."
Get an exclusive look at the gameday entertainment from the Raiders' Week 1 preseason matchup against the Seattle Seahawks at Allegiant Stadium.