Under the bright lights of Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders took the field for the first time as a team Friday afternoon.
The regular season is just around the corner, but several members of the Silver and Black had yet to see the inside of their new home, which prompted Head Coach Jon Gruden to conduct a practice in the Raiders' new sanctuary.
Before the team took the field, Owner Mark Davis took a moment to deliver a special message over the loudspeaker.
"Welcome to the Death Star, where our opponent's dreams come to die," Davis said. "My father always said that the greatness of the Raiders is in its future. Well, today that future really starts. This magnificent stadium was built on the backs of thousands of players, coaches, administrators, and fans, who for the past 60 years have proudly worn the Silver and Black. This is our field of dreams. This is our house."
It's been three years since the team announced it would be moving to the Entertainment Capital of the World and it's mind-blowing to think how close we are to the beginning of the Raiders' inaugural season. Friday, Derek Carr offered a sneak peek of the team's uniforms this season, emblazoned with a fresh new patch.
Despite practicing in an empty stadium, the arena was filled with excitement, as the coaching staff, players, and even media members couldn't help but take in all its beauty. Running back Jalen Richard said post-practice that he and many of his teammates couldn't help staring up into the rafters.
"A couple of guys were [looking around the stadium]. For a little bit, I was," Richard said. "Coach [Gruden] wanted us to get that game feel and be locked in going through the mock pregame. But you could definitely feel guys looking around and saying 'wow.'"
The aesthetics of the stadium are second to none, but the players, according to Richard, are most excited about the authentic grass field.
"It's very impressive, man," he added. "The yard keepers for the field have done a great job — it's really fast. It's comfortable, I know a couple of guys thought it was going to be turf, but it turned out to be real grass, so we're very excited for this."
Even though the focus was on practice and the players and coaches were thrilled with the stadium, they couldn't help but express that it won't be the same without the fans. The Raiders' inaugural season wasn't supposed to be without Raider Nation, but the pandemic had other plans. Regardless, Coach Gruden can't wait for the fans to experience Allegiant Stadium for themselves.
"It's crushing, I know how bad it hurts our Owner," Gruden said. "Mark Davis, like I said earlier, he set this up — I don't know how he did it. He's been able to let his fans in here and our sponsors, and the people who made this happen. All I can say is, let's beat this virus as soon as possible, the sooner the better, and when we do we're going to have great fun in this facility and Las Vegas will come back stronger than ever."
Unfortunately, the fans weren't able to be there the first time the Raiders took the field at Allegiant Stadium, but this was a monumental day that the players and coaches won't soon forget.