When Allegiant Stadium debuts in the summer of 2020, it will not just be the home field of the newly rechristened Las Vegas Raiders NFL team. The 1.7 million square-foot facility, which was built with $750 million in public funding and $1.15 billion in private equity, will become the city’s largest venue for live events with the potential to feed tens of millions of dollars into the concert and even residency market.
Designed by MANICA Architecture— the firm behind San Francisco’s Chase Center and the renovation of Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona — Allegiant will have a seating capacity of 65,000 to 72,000 (depending on configurations); a silver-and-black exterior that matches the Raiders’ uniform colors; and a clear ethylene tetrafluoroethylene polymer dome roof that will shield ticket spectators from high desert temperatures while affording them a view of the Las Vegas skyline. The stadium grounds will also feature the 85-foot tall carbon-fiber and aluminum Al Davis memorial torch — a tribute to the Raiders late owner — that when completed will be the largest 3D printed object in the world.
Operated by the facilities division of AEG Worldwide, Allegiant’s premium seating will include six private suites on the main concourse and 14 in the lower suite level. And though specific vendors have yet to be announced, seat sales presentations depict club and suite level amenities, bars and dining options with sightlines of the field. Although no shows have been officially announced, Allegiant Stadium will open in close timing to Los Angeles’ SoFi stadium. Given the stadiums’ relative proximity to each other, it’s conceivable that a touring route will open up between the two cities. Stadium tours booked at SoFi include Motley Crue, Taylor Swiftand Kenny Chesney, none of whom have announced Vegas dates yet.
The opening of Allegiant will mark the latest milestone in a decade-long renaissance of the city’s live-performance venues that included the building of the 20,000-capacity T-Mobile Arena and the 5,200-capacity Park Theater at the Park MGM hotel and casino. The 17,500-capacity MSG Sphere at The Venetian Resort is slated to open in 2021.
The development has enabled Vegas to evolve from a B or even C-level market based on its resident population into “a must -play market for touring shows,” says John Nelson, president of AEG’s Concerts West. The city, which draws 42 million tourists annually, “now supports just about every tour that’s out there,” he adds.
Raiders President Marc Badain says he expects Allegiant to “amplify all programming in the city, including residencies. (Shuttles to and from the stadium, which is located two miles from the Strip, will stop at select casinos on the main drag, which should facilitate that cross-pollination.)
“If you go back five years ago, people said there’s no way we can support a T-Mobile Arena. We already have Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand Garden Arena, and sure enough, it’s worked incredibly well,” says Kurt Melien, president of Live Nation Las Vegas. We’ve added additional attendance and revenue from the Vegas Golden Knights, and the concert business has benefited a great deal. We have no reason to believe that the Raiders aren’t going to help us grow that business.”
John Nelson, president of AEG’s Concerts West agrees. “The development of any new forms of entertainment in Las Vegas, whether Cirque or resident headliners, or now, sports is good for the whole city,” he says. “The Golden Knights proved it out of the box, and the Raiders, I expect, will really bring home the fact that sports works in this market as an attraction for people to travel here to see their teams [play the Raiders]. And fortunately,” Nelson adds, “after a drought of about 10 years, more high-quality room inventory will be coming online over the next two or three years.”
Both Resorts World and the Drew Las Vegas, located adjacent to the convention center, will add thousands of rooms by 2022.
From the standpoint of marketing to the fans, the Las Vegas hype machine is firing on all cylinders. “[Sports] adds more experiences. We have to be more creative—our programming, entertainment, marketing. There’s certainly a lot of crossover between the sports fan and the music fan—I think it elevates both significantly,” says Chris Baldizan, senior vice president of entertainment booking and development at MGM Resorts International.
Casinos are also seeking promotion and partnership deals with the Raiders, which should also feed football fans to the live-music residencies and concerts taking place on the Strip. Caesars Entertainment has signed on to be an official partner of the Raiders, for example, and CMO Chris Holdren, who orchestrated the deal, says, “When you have a team like the Raiders that have such a passionate fan base, it gives us an opportunity to offer our VIP customers access to the game and bring in people who may be either fans of the team or fans of the teams they’ll be playing to experience Las Vegas and all we have to offer.”
As part of Caesars deal with the Raiders, the casino will have access to several hundred seats in the stadium including two 50-yard-line suites on the visitors side of the stadium. There will also be a Caesars branded entrance to the stadium.
Caesars also has a partnership with the city’s other professional sports team, the Vegas Golden Knights NHL franchise, and Holdren says, “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of crossover between the offerings we can make available to our guests around sports and our core entertainment offerings. Most of the people who will experience our hospitality with the Raiders or the Golden Knights are coming into Las Vegas for several days. Our guests tell us they’re looking for not just that Raiders game experience — they’d also love to go see Shania Twain or Christina Aguilera. Both artists have residencies at Caesars-owned venues.
All eyes are on the NFL draft, which takes place in Las Vegas in April, as an early indicator of what NFL football will bring to town. “That’s going to bring hundreds of thousands if not over a million visitors into the city during that weekend to experience everything we have to offer, including our entertainment,” Holdren says.