By ALAN SNEL
The Raiders keep on telling Las Vegas, “They’re coming,” but you get the feeling they’re already here.
Clark County has already collected more than $17 million in hotel room revenues toward our community’s $750 million gift to the Raiders for their new stadium; the team is already drilling for soil samples at their 62-acre stadium site along Polaris Avenue; and a new Raiders fan club is attracting hundreds of black-and-silver rooters to watch parties at the downtown Club Red dance club and bar outfitted with nine mega-TV screens measuring 10-by-12-feet.
On Sunday morning, the Raiders fans began pouring into Club Red, only a block from Container Park in downtown Las Vegas.
They included former Naval Academy and Raiders star Napolean McCallum, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. employee who helped plant the seed for the Raiders moving to Las Vegas from Oakland. The Raiders will christen their new domed $1.8 billion stadium at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue on the west side of I-15 in 2020.
“If you can’t get to the game, you should come here,” McCallum told LVSportsBiz.com as fans watched the Raiders defeat the Tennessee Titans, 26-16, on the giant TV screens. “We’re practicing for when the stadium comes.”
Sheryl Thornton-Burnham, president of the 702 Raider Nation Red Zone Chapter fan club, said several hundred Raiders fans came to Club Red, including fans from five other local booster clubs.
Raiders fans can pay $35 to be a member of the 702 Raider Nation Red Zone club, or $60 for a couple.
Club Red also benefits from the Raiders crowd as fans spend an average of $50-$75, Thornton-Burnham said.
That means if 100 people show up that’s at least $5,000 in revenue for the bar, based on the average spending.
Thornton-Burnham estimated that at least another 100 Raiders fans would attend if the game started at 1 p.m. local time instead of the 10 a.m. start Sunday when the Raiders played in Tennessee.
“Once you get a taste of this, you’re family,” said Jeff “Mr. Wizard” Burnham, Sheryl’s husband. “It’s like a family reunion.”
Thornton-Burnham, who once worked for the Raiders when the team played in Los Angeles, said watch parties will feature guest appearances by former Raiders players, ticket giveaways and jersey raffles.
She noted the Club Red location is great for downtown tourists, including Raiders fans from Denver who ducked into the party Sunday.
“For the first game, it’s a pretty good crowd,” said Raiders fan Eric Carillo, noting he spent about $50 on the beer. “You can be chilling at your house or enjoy the atmosphere here.”
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com