Raiders make contingency plans for stadium delays, UFC 249 postponed

The Las Vegas Raiders NFL American football team is reportedly considering contingency plans if work on its new stadium is delayed due to COVID-19.

The Raiders are due to move into the state-of-the-art, 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium this summer. Work has continued on the stadium despite the COVID-19 outbreak but the team is said to be preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Las Vegas Stadium Authority chairman Steve Hill has previously stated that he “cannot envision a situation where the coronavirus would impact the construction”.

However, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper, the Raiders are exploring the option of playing games in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and San Diego if work on Allegiant Stadium ends up being delayed. The report added that the Raiders still plan on completing the stadium on time and the alternative options are only being drawn up as a precaution.

Work on the stadium is nearing completion, with the roof scheduled to be finished within the coming weeks. Work on the interior of the stadium would then need to be finished ahead of the opening date, which is still pencilled in for July.

Should the Raiders be forced to play in Salt Lake City, the team could use Rice-Eccles Stadium, home of the University of Utah’s college team. State Farm Stadium, home of rival NFL team the Arizona Cardinals, could also be an option, as could Chase Field, home to Major League Baseball team the Arizona Diamondbacks. San Diego’s SDCCU Stadium, the former home of the Chargers NFL team, could also be used.

In other news, the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts series has been forced to postpone its UFC 249 event, which had been scheduled for this weekend.

Last week, UFC president Dana White said that he was confident the event would go ahead at an undisclosed venue, adding that he was planning to secure a private island to host subsequent fights over the coming months.

However, UFC 249 and subsequent fights have been postponed until further notice due to COVID-19 at the request of broadcast partner ESPN. UFC said in a statement that it had been “fully prepared” to proceed with UFC 249, adding that it looks forward to resuming its live events schedule “as soon as possible”.

In a text sent to the Associated Press, White said: “I was ready to go on Saturday, but Disney and ESPN asked me to step down. I love and respect my partnership with them so I postponed the event.”

ESPN added in a statement to the news agency: “ESPN has been in constant contact with the UFC regarding UFC 249. Nobody wants to see sports return more than we do, but we didn’t feel this was the right time for a variety of reasons. ESPN expressed its concerns to the UFC and they understood.”

White is still hopeful of creating his island concept for future fights and told the AP that infrastructure is being built and will be “up and running ASAP”.

Image: Las Vegas Raiders