Many Las Vegans already have allegiances to pro football franchises—Go Steelers, go!—and bristled at the thought of allowing the Silver and Black to enter our lives. That’s especially true for backers of teams like the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers, the Raiders’ heated division rivals.
We figured we’d cheer for the team we know and worry about the Raiders in 2020, when they arrive in our Valley. But then, something changed. The Raiders made it easy for Las Vegans to cheer for them.
In their first year being affiliated with Las Vegas after their relocation was approved, the Raiders showed an astounding commitment in the community. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work, going out of their way to embrace our city and make it a better place to call home.
They have donated money to many causes, gotten involved in youth sports leagues and become so visible, you’d think they were already playing here. The Raiders have had representation everywhere from high school football games to Chamber of Commerce luncheons, giving us a small glimpse of life as one of the NFL’s 32 host cities.
The public’s $800 million contribution to help fund the new stadium through a room-tax offended some residents, who would have liked to see it used for education or other purposes. But over the next 30 years, it could seem like a bargain for what we will get in return—which extends far beyond game day.
Those eight Sundays each fall will help money flow through our town and benefit our many service workers. But that’s just the beginning. The Raiders want to do more. They seem determined to become true Las Vegans.
There are more than 2 million residents in Southern Nevada. Yet, for as quickly as the town has grown, it still has that close-knit, small-town feel. Las Vegans cheer for each other and help each other out, regardless of the circumstance.
In the Raiders, we have a like-minded partner. The team has taken the key steps in becoming one of us, and the city is responding, as evidenced by thousands attending a recent preseason watch party Downtown.
And we’re still two years away from kickoff 2020, time during which the romance between the Raiders and their future home should only get stronger.
I never thought I’d say it, but, Go Raiders, go!