While the coronavirus pandemic has ground most of the sports world to a halt, the NFL offseason is still in full swing. There are some modifications—free agents won’t be traveling around the country to meet with teams, for example—but, for the most part, teams are conducting business as usual. That even includes the Las Vegas Raiders, who will get to keep building their new home stadium.
While there had been some speculation that the Raiders would have to remain in the Bay Area, it looks like that won’t be the case. Their stadium construction, at least as of now, is moving ahead as scheduled.
The Raiders are leaving Oakland heading to Las Vegas
In the early days of the AFL, the upstart league didn’t plan on putting a team in the Bay Area. The San Francisco 49ers were drawing fans, however, so they decided to give Oakland a shot.
While the Raiders initially struggled, the franchise eventually found its footing. Oakland started making the playoffs in the late 1960s; once John Madden took over as head coach, however, the became an unstoppable force. The legendary coach would retire, and the team would relocate to Los Angeles, but they just kept winning.
Eventually, however, that momentum stalled. The Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995; since then, they’ve only made the playoffs four times. While the club was once the class of the AFC, they haven’t won their division in nearly two decades.
Even the coronavirus pandemic can’t stop the stadium construction
When the 2020 NFL season kicks off, the Las Raiders will be calling Sin City home. That’s assuming, however, their stadium is ready in time for kick-off.
On paper, Allegiant Stadium should be ready for football around the end of July. It’s worth noting, however, that ready for football doesn’t mean completed; some additional elements, like two extra locker rooms, won’t be finished by the end of the summer, but they’re not essential for an NFL game.
While the coronavirus pandemic could have thrown off that timeline, it seems like everything will proceed as scheduled. The stadium’s construction has been deemed “essential,” meaning it can continue amid any potential lockdowns or other public safety measures. The Raiders have also reportedly declined the option to play this season’s games in Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum; it seems like they’re going all-in on finally becoming the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Las Vegas Raiders are trying to build something, both on and off the field
When you’re playing in the same division as the defending Super Bowl champion, it isn’t easy to force your way into the postseason picture. The Las Vegas Raiders, however, are trying to build something, both on and off the field.
Although they didn’t poach Tom Brady from the New England Patriots, the Raiders have been busy this offseason. Players like Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski should include the club’s defense; other acquisitions, like Marcus Mariota, might not be game-changers but are solid moves that help overall team depth. If the Raiders can execute on draft day, they should be in the hunt of a Wildcard spot, especially in an expanded postseason.
While there’s plenty of time between today and the start of the NFL season, the Raiders are building something in Las Vegas. Their new stadium is taking shape, and the roster seems to be trending in the right direction; it’s only a matter of time until we see if their gambles pay off.