By ALAN SNEL
Say it ain’t so, Al.
The sports franchise known for its bad-ass, renegade, we’ll-move-wherever-whenever-we-want persona is feeling just a little stressed out these days.
The team that reveled in its rebel-style swagger, the Oakland Raiders are running a sports enterprise split between two cities — the Bay area and Las Vegas.
And that’s no easy task from a logistical standpoint when the team in Oakland is trying to launch a $1.9 billion stadium project 558 miles away. Most of the Raiders front office employees are in Oakland, while some other staffers such as senior VP Mark Shearer, the Raiders chief revenue officer, have already planted roots in the Las Vegas area.
Everyone in Las Vegas wants an invite to Monday’s historic stadium groundbreaking on a vacant desert landscape parcel on the west side of Interstate 15. After all, Nevada is giving $750 million to the Raiders for their stadium, a public subsidy that is an NFL stadium record.
Monday’s groundbreaking will be different from your typical groundbreaking because darkness will be setting in by the time 5 p.m. rolls around when the shovels hit dirt. Invitees are advised to show up first at the Delano to claim their credentials at 3 p.m. The media is supposed to be in place at 3:30 p.m.
But the Raiders are doling out a finite number of invites. So, not everyone who wants to be there will be celebrating the start of stadium construction inside Monday’s temporary building that resembles a giant greenhouse.
The symbolic shoveling of dirt will happen in the emotional wake of the deadliest mass shooting in our country’s history less than a month and a half ago. About a mile from the stadium’s 62-acre site on the east side of the interstate, a madman used a Mandalay Bay suite as a killing perch to murder 58 country music fans and injure more than 500 others at MGM Resorts International’s festival grounds on the Strip.
Some representatives of the Raiders were there, and they — like so many — are coping with the trauma the best they can.
The fact is we live in a New Reality. And that New Reality involves proactive public safety planning whenever you bring large groups of people together. People and places used to look at mass shootings as tragedies that beset other people and places. But no more, especially in Las Vegas.
The Raiders believe they are not excluding Las Vegans from the stadium groundbreaking. The organization that made a $50,000 financial contribution to the Oct. 1 victims fund in Las Vegas is broadcasting the groundbreaking live on its website and Facebook page in hopes of spreading the event to its massive fan base.
There are also other sources of stress, too. The front office, for example, is also planning the logistics for the team’s next game in Mexico City, where the Raiders will play the New England Patriots.
And it’s also a front office that is trying to make sure the Raiders have a home field to play on while the Las Vegas stadium is being built for a debut in mid-2020. It does set up a strange dynamic in Oakland, an NFL lameduck city that knows the Raiders are leaving town but are in the position to still play host to a franchise for another two years.
So, let’s just say behind that bad-ass public persona is a franchise dealing with some stress just like you and I.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com