History might indeed repeat itself, but not in the way Mark Davis desires.
“I’ve never had a groundbreaking before,” the Raiders owner said Monday night. “I think this will also be my last one.”
In the shadows of 58 beams of light jetting toward the sky, meant to honor those who perished in the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the Raiders officially broke ground on the $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium that will house the NFL team and UNLV football.
The celebration for a stadium set to be completed in July of 2020 and sitting at the Interstate 15 and Russell Road site brought both excitement and remembrance, as the Raiders created an evening that both praised the work of those who made the project possible and memorialized those lost in the darkest moments of the town’s history.
“For the Raiders to be successful and ultimately win, it takes teamwork,” Davis told the gathering of an estimated 600 invited guests. “Nowhere has the notion of teamwork been better displayed and more evident than in Las Vegas on the evening of Oct. 1, 2017, when, with the world watching, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, Rep. Dina Titus, Sheriff Joe Lombardo, their staffs, all the first responders, emergency health-care workers and local citizenry seamlessly worked together to bring a sense of safety and security to a situation that without teamwork could have resulted in chaos. The Raiders are honored and proud to be joining such a special team.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, along with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and team owners Robert Kraft (Patriots), Stan Kroenke (Rams) and Dean Spanos (Chargers) were in attendance, along with such celebrities as Carlos Santana and Wayne Newton.
Several former Raiders greats also attended, including Howie Long, Jim Plunkett, Jay Schroeder, Daryle Lamonica and David Humm. Others sitting among the first few row of seats were Fred Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch and Lincoln Kennedy.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was comedian George Lopez.
“Only in Vegas can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show,” Goodell said in his remarks to the crowd. “The Raiders hold a special place in the hearts of football fans around the world and we appreciate how they’ve been embraced by the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas.
“This will be seen around the world as a reflection of the spirit of Las Vegas: a resilient city on the rise. This is a very significant day in the franchise’s storied history and a tangible symbol of the team’s future in Las Vegas.”
The theme was about new beginnings and yet also one of never forgetting those lost in the shootings, the latter recognized by a beautiful rendition of “Rise Up,” by singer-songwriter Judith Hill to open the program.
Afterward, Sandoval spoke about how impressed he was with the Raiders making a large part of the evening about what those 58 beams of light stood for.
“I think it spoke to how they’re sensitive to what happened here,” Sandoval said. “This was an amazing first step to them being here and being part of the Nevada family.
“The Raider Nation is now part of the Nevada family.”
Still to be finalized, among several issues, is the joint use agreement between the Raiders and UNLV, but the university was represented Monday by president Len Jessup and athletics director Desiree Reed-Francois.