Allegiant Stadium, the new home of NFL American football team the Las Vegas Raiders, is set to come in $25.1m (£19m/€20.6m) under budget, while the Carolina Panthers have received final approval for their mixed-use development.

The Las Vegas Stadium Authority’s approval of the reduction means that once all work on the 63-acre site is complete, the final construction budget will stand at $1.944bn. The addition of $49.2m in work paid for by third parties will give a final total of $1.99bn.

The Raiders opened its new state-of-the-art stadium on September 21 with a 34-24 win over the New Orleans Saints. The 65,000-seat facility became the second new NFL venue to open that month after SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, staged its first game on September 13.

Allegiant Stadium was originally budgeted at $1.8bn, but this grew to a potential $2.02bn through the addition of upgrades including the end zone club space and additional suites. These were paid for as the Raiders in January announced that they had sold all available personal seat licenses (PSLs) for their move, generating $228m more than was originally projected.

“These enhancements were not project cost overruns, but were instead deliberate enhancements to the stadium’s original scope made possible by additional funding realised through this very successful sales program,” Don Webb, chief operating officer for Las Vegas Stadium Authority, said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper.

Reductions to the budget were allowed to be made across the likes of design and engineering costs, stadium utility and infrastructure, and stadium furniture and fixtures. This has also allowed for a change in the split of costs between the Raiders and the public contribution. “The stadium authority’s (public) contribution, which started at 42%, will end up being slightly less than 38% of the total,” Webb said.

News of the budget reduction has been lauded by Las Vegas Stadium Authority, comparing Allegiant Stadium to the cost overruns incurred by SoFi Stadium. Board member Jan Jones Blackhurst said: “SoFi Stadium in Inglewood was over budget by $2bn, which sort of puts it into perspective how extraordinary this is.”

Carolina Panthers

Meanwhile, Rock Hill City Council yesterday (Thursday) voted in favour of the final three items needed to approve the major multi-purpose development that will house the Panthers’ new training facility and business headquarters.

In October, the Panthers revealed renderings for the development, which will feature a sports and entertainment venue that will be able to hold up to 20,000 people. ‘The Park’ will have 5,000 permanent seats, but will be adaptable to a range of sporting and non-sporting events, such as concerts.

The Park will be part of a development that will cover nearly four million square feet and also comprise restaurants, retail and office space, a healthcare facility, apartments, hotels and trails. Construction work has already begun on the training facility and headquarters, with a completion date of 2023 having been earmarked.

The mixed-use development, which has been dubbed ‘The Rock’, will split enormous indoor and outdoor training areas with sliding glass doors that will be 80 feet high. For the Panthers, there will also be a 20,000 square-foot weights room, a 6,000 square-foot locker room and a 5,000 square-foot hydrotherapy room.

New Orleans Saints

The Saints, in partnership with the City of New Orleans, have agreed to roll back the previously announced capacity for the December 20 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Mercedes-Benz Superdome from 15,000 to 3,000 due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

In October, the Saints said they would return fans to the Superdome as part of a “phased and deliberate” pilot approach. This started with 3,000 tickets being made available for the game against the Panthers on October 25. Capacity had risen to 6,000 for the last home game against the Atlanta Falcons on November 22, and was set to increase again to 15,000 for the visit of the Chiefs.

Barring any change in local health and safety guidelines, officials had stated any additional changes to crowd size would only be possible if current trends continued to remain stable. It was announced yesterday that based on current data, those predetermined thresholds that have triggered the team and city to roll back the capacity – positivity rate above 5% and cases over 25 per 100,000 – have both now been surpassed in Orleans Parish.

This means capacity will roll back to 3,000 for the Chiefs game, with the Saints adding this is likely to remain the same for the December 25 clash against the Minnesota Vikings. It was also announced yesterday that around 800 fans will be permitted inside Smoothie King Center when the New Orleans Pelicans face the San Antonio Spurs on December 27 in their home NBA opener. That number represents 4% of the arena’s maximum capacity. 

Green Bay Packers

Earlier this week, the Packers announced that for the remainder of the 2020 regular season, game attendees at Lambeau Field will be limited to team employees and their household families.

This scheme has been in place for the past two home games, with the Packers previously not allowing any game attendees at all. In their announcement, the team said: “While infection rates in Brown County and in many areas in Wisconsin currently are trending in a better direction, the rate overall remains at a high level locally (fourth highest among NFL cities).

“Also, with the holiday season coming up there is concern that the rate may spike again. Significantly, the hospitalisations and deaths remain at high levels both locally and across the state. Therefore, the organisation, in consultation with local healthcare and public health officials, has determined it would be safest for the community to maintain the current level of attendance composed of employee household ‘pods’ and not introduce a wider audience of ticketed fans.”

The Packers added that the approach to any potential home playoff game(s) will be decided at a later date.

Image: Jason O’Rear