By ALAN SNEL
At 46 years old, he’s not exactly a stud. But then again, Sam Boyd Stadium was never a candidate to be a cover boy for Architectural Digest Magazine.
There’s so much public chatter about the Raiders and their palatial $1.8 billion domed stadium they plan to build in Las Vegas by 2020 that the fate of Sam Boyd Stadium has hardly been discussed.
But at a UNLV alumni luncheon on business and sports Tuesday, an alum stood up and asked simply, What will happen to Sam Boyd Stadium?
And Mike Newcomb, the UNLV executive director of Sam Boyd Stadium and Thomas & Mack Center who was sitting on the luncheon panel, gave a direct answer.
“Sam Boyd Stadium will be closed.”
To current Las Vegas area residents, Sam Boyd Stadium is the place where the UNLV football team plays before small crowds of about 15,000 or so not too far from the Las Vegas Wash.
The 40,000-seat stadium is a workman-like, all-purpose venue that also hosts international rugby matches, motorcycle races and monster truck jams.
There’s not a whole lot of pizzazz to the place, as the outdoor seating is in benches. There is a club level in the stadium tower where fans can enjoy buffets in an open area. And one thing it does have is parking. (Please note, Raiders).
Sam Boyd Stadium opened as a little guy — a capacity for 15,000 for $3.5 million in 1971. For comparison, the MGM Grand Garden Arena has capacity of 16,800.
Sam Boyd Stadium would expand to 32,000 seats in 1978 and 40,000 in 1998 thanks to a $2 million grant. It was called the Las Vegas Silver Bowl in 1978 before it was re-named the Sam Boyd Silver Bowl in 1984. A decade later, the name was changed again to Sam Boyd Stadium.
The stadium hosted major musical acts, ranging from the Grateful Dead and Eagles to Paul McCartney, the Lollapalooza Tour and Vegoose Music Festival. And it has also been the home for the Las Vegas Bowl.
But in 2020, the UNLV football team will move to the Raiders’ new stadium on 62 acres at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue, only three miles or so from their campus.
Southern Nevada is raising $1.2 billion during the next 30 years so that the Las Vegas area community can give $750 million for the Raiders stadium project. It’s the largest public NFL stadium subsidy in history — and we will say good-bye to Sam Boyd Stadium when the new Raiders stadium opens in three years.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com