It has been a long tradition of the Las Vegas Raiders to have the meanest and most fanatical fans in the NFL. So much that opposing teams were wary of coming to Oakland. Has this changed with their move to Sin City?
In 2018, I finally made the pilgrimage to Oakland to see the Raiders play in what was supposed to be their final season. I asked several non-Raiders fans friends to come with. However, all refused due to their fear of being targeted. They saw the games on TV where the cameras panned across the stadium seats to see what looked like a mix of a heavy metal concert and Halloween diehards, all donning Silver and Black. I was able to eventually coax my best friend, who’s a Chiefs fan, to join me.
My brave friend refused to wear any Chiefs gear for the game besides a hat. It still wasn’t enough to disguise his allegiance and he was clearly told by several members of Raider Nation not to walk down specific tailgate areas. Kansas City trounced the Raiders that weekend but my friend still said he would not be going back to Oakland.
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Fast forward to 2020, that same buddy of mine has been asking when we are going to Vegas? What changed that he’s now comfortable going to see my Raiders? For starters, he says the game no longer takes place in Oakland. Whether he has knowledge of it or it’s an assumption, it’s very true many of Oakland’s most loyal Raiders fans have been priced out of the stadium. The shockingly high PSLs and even individual ticket prices have scared off many into settling for watching the game on Sunday Ticket or at a bar.
The other noticeable trend is that away fans are now chattering all over social media about how they intend to “invade Vegas” and take over Allegiant stadium. Never once have the Raiders faithful been outnumbered at home. On the other hand, it’s possible high level executives visiting the desert or tourists who figure they’ll kill three hours between gambling runs will show up.
Whether it’s away fans or tourists venturing into the cool state of the art stadium by the Vegas strip the diehards of Raider Nation are going to need to show up to keep their legacy alive. The Coliseum had an allure and mystique that not many stadiums had. That hostile environment was a part of team meetings for the majority of visiting football clubs. Like many fans, I believe that the new stadium is something to be excited about. Nevertheless, there’s something about the menacing Oakland tradition that may be missing.
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Top Photo: Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle