NFL

Raiders’ Las Vegas Stadium Prove Days of Open-Air Stadiums Are Over

The Raiders’ stadium in Las Vegas is currently in the final stages of its construction. Sin City hopes its new state-of-the-art facility attracts even more fans to watch the Raiders play. The venue itself may also be evidence that the days of open-air NFL stadiums are over. 

Let’s take a closer look at the Raiders’ stadium and how it reflects the NFL’s new reality of retractable roofs. 

The Oakland Raiders’ stadium in Las Vegas

As the Raiders complete their farewell season in Oakland, progress on their new stadium has been steady. The Las Vegas venue is a $1.8 billion project with an expected capacity of 65,000. Here are the construction details according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:  

  • The Raiders’ stadium will have four locker rooms. 
  • A tour of the premises revealed that the stadium will have a tunnel going around the stadium big enough for team buses. This will enable teams to drive through a field tray opening right to the locker rooms. 
  • Workers installed 13 rails to hold the field tray used for NFL games. This was going to happen later in the process but was moved up. 
  • An issue with the roof trusses caused the construction team to move up the field tray rail installation.
  • The Raiders’ stadium will also have a retractable roof — a feature becoming more common in today’s NFL. 

Why more NFL stadiums have protective roofs 

In 2014, Live Science looked into why so many teams in the northern U.S. have open-air stadiums. They found that there are 11 open-air stadiums in the North with 12 in the South. Retractable roof stadiums include the University of Phoenix Stadium, AT&T Stadium, Lucas Oil Stadium and Reliant Stadium. A teams’ decision on whether to add a retractable roof comes down to three major factors: 

  • Cost: Adding a retractable roof is a significant technical achievement as well as a financial investment. It doesn’t come cheap.
  • Weather: Retractable roofs protect teams from the elements. Teams don’t have to worry about heat, snow, rain, or wind impacting the game.
  • Usability: Stadiums are more versatile with retractable roofs. As noted, the Raiders’ new stadium will feature four locker rooms. This makes the site more attractive for future NCAA men’s college basketball Final Fours. Now it can host football, basketball, hockey, concerts, conferences, conventions, and various other live events. 

The future of NFL stadiums

As the cost of new stadiums rises, cities building these stadiums will need to factor in their return on investment. To get the highest ROI, teams need to diversify the types of events they can hold. The bottom line is that the more kinds of events a stadium can host, the more profitable it will be.

Open-air stadiums are great for sporting events, especially on a day with beautiful weather. They’re limited, however. While baseball and football can be played in the rain (though baseball will delay games if the rain is too heavy), other types of events can’t be held in any type of weather. Try to picture a Taylor Swift concert in the middle of a hailstorm or an NCAA basketball regional final played during a squall. It’s not feasible. 

As cities look to build new NFL stadiums, they want versatile facilities. The way to do it? Adding a retractable roof. While open-air stadiums won’t go away any time soon, expect more new stadiums to have retractable roofs.