By ALAN SNEL
The Oakland Raiders opened their first official merchandise store in Las Vegas Monday and to mark the occasion the NFL team decided it would be best to not allow the media to interview fans as they shopped for Derek Carr jerseys and other logo gear inside the shop.
So, two reporters hung outside The Raider Image retail shop at Town Square and who comes strolling along the outdoor mall’s sidewalk but Carl Peterson.
Yes, that Carl Peterson, the former CEO, GM and president of the Kansas City Chiefs — the Raiders’ arch enemy.
“Hey, don’t buy anything in there,” Peterson joked to a fan who walked in the store. Peterson was with his pal, Mark Fine, a prominent Las Vegas area developer and current UNLV Foundation trustee Monday.
Peterson, who worked for the Chiefs from 1989-2009, recalled the good ol’ days when the Chiefs beat the Raiders 28 out of 31 games during one stretch of his tenure.
But he said if the Raiders had to leave Oakland, they could not find a better city to move to than Las Vegas — especially when Nevada is giving the Raiders $750 million to help build a new $1.8 billion domed, 65,000-seat stadium on 62 acres on the west side of I-15 at Russell Road and Polaris Avenue.
“There was no team in the history of the NFL more appropriate to come to Las Vegas than the Raiders,” Peterson told LVSportsBiz.com.
Peterson said more than half of the owners enjoyed coming to Las Vegas such as New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Chargers owner Dean Spanos. The NFL owners voted nearly unanimously to allow Raiders owner Mark Davis to move the franchise to Sin City.
The fact the Raiders were opening their 10th team store in Las Vegas — the first one in Nevada — didn’t surprise Peterson because he said the Raiders brand and colors made them a popular retail merchandise buy. Peterson is now the chairman of USA Football in Indianapolis.
Peterson’s friend, Fine, said the new store opening was also a symbolic event that showed the Raiders are really coming to Las Vegas.
“It is surreal,” Fine said.
LVSportsBiz.com spoke with several Raiders fans outside the official team store. They included Ronnie Rivera of Temecula, California where he lives on the Pechanga Indian Reservation and was in Las Vegas to attend the Indian Rodeo at South Point.
Rivera, wearing a Lyle Alzado number 77 jersey and a Raiders cap, said his wife needed shoes, so they came to Town Square and he was pleasantly surprised by the opening of the Raiders shop.
Rivera said his daughter is a Chargers fan, but he is trying to make his new granddaughter a Raiders fan so he bought three baby Raiders outfits.
“I’m getting them while they are young,” Rivera said.
Rivera said he travels to three or four Raiders games in Oakland a year. But with the team moving to Las Vegas when the stadium opens in mid-2020, he plans to attend all eight home games.
The mother-daughter team of Jeannine Ryan of Belmont, Calif. and Karen Perrault of Kirkland, Wash. came to the store and mom and daughter are Raiders fans from the late 1960s and days of Daryle “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica.
“It’s a special Raiders shopping day,” Perrault said before she bought a sparkling shirt.
Another one of those symbolic Raiders event in Las Vegas happens Monday, when the team holds a stadium groundbreaking at the venue site. And the media folks are not invited to that event, either.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com