NFL teams will tarp off the lowest eight rows of seats in stadiums this year in a bid to protect players and staff. Instead, teams will have the opportunity to turn those seats into advertising space. The league’s proposal was widely supported, with every team approving but one.
That one team is the Las Vegas Raiders. Owner Mark Davis was the only one to oppose the plan, as the team has sold out its games for the entire season. If fans are allowed in the stadium, there is really no way to do that while simultaneously blocking off the lower rows of seating without displacing some of them.
“I can’t imagine telling one fan they cannot attend the opening game of our inaugural season in Las Vegas at the most magnificent stadium that they helped to build. Let alone tell 3,500 fans that their seats are gone for the entire season,” Davis told Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Those seats in the front rows are some of our most ardent fans, including members of the famed Black Hole. You think I want to sell advertising on their seats?”
The reality of the situation is it may be impossible to play games in front of a full stadium of fans in 2020, with or without this restriction. At best, attendance may be significantly limited, so Davis would have to inform some fans that they’re out either way. Nobody likes it — especially what it could mean for the sport financially — but there may be no choice.