Much like with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers in Major League Baseball, under the current climate of uncertainty regarding the ongoing pandemic, certain NFL teams will have the benefit of having fans in attendance at their games, while others in the league will not.
This potential disparity is not sitting well with Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis.
Davis, however, seems less concerned with the fact that certain NFL teams’ home games could be played without the added spark of fans cheering them on, but more with the financial aspect of the difference.
“Everything else in this offseason has been equity,” said Davis, reports The Athletic, “That if California wasn’t going to allow teams to go to their own facility, such as us — to go to Alameda — or the Rams or Niners … if only one team couldn’t go to their own facility, all 32 couldn’t go. The worst-case scenario state went for everybody — so there was equity all the way through, everywhere.
“The draft — since you couldn’t bring players into one state, you couldn’t bring them into anywhere, so we went virtual. And then, you get into attendance at the stadium and all of a sudden it’s the wild, wild west. ‘You all make your own decisions, don’t look at us. It’s not up to us.’ It’s like, whoa!
“Unless they figure out financially how to share the gate money, based on some states saying maybe no people in and some saying 100 percent in … someone is getting more money than the other person.
“That’s a competitive advantage,” he added. “The clock is ticking and those are things we have to figure out still.”
Not that he doesn’t also see how having fans on hand and cheering could give one home team an advantage over those playing in empty stadiums, one of which will probably be his new Allegiant Stadium in Vegas.
“I won’t go if the fans can’t go, and the way it looks right now there won’t be any fans at our games,” said Davis, adding, “It’s all or none for me. Either all the fans are going to be in there or none.”
Davis, the only owner who voted against a plan the NFL has enacted for the 2020 season which will see the first eight rows of all stadiums tarped off for social distancing (and advertising), says 8,000 fans will be displaced by the measure and he has nowhere to put them because the stadium is already sold out.
Of note, those first eight rows are also the home to the Raiders’ legendary “Black Hole.”
“I can’t tell one fan that they can’t go to the inaugural opening game in a stadium that they helped to build through their PSLs,” Davis said in an interview at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. “I won’t tell them that they can’t go but the rest of these guys can … and oh, by the way, don’t worry about it because we’ll be able to advertise on your seats.”
Of course, all of this is moot if the 2020 NFL season ends up being canceled, something Davis admits is still a possibility.
“Everything is up in the air with the [COVID-19] virus and how it will affect our league and season,” Davis told ESPN.com.