A limited number of fans will be allowed inside Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas this year to watch college football games. This is the inaugural year for the $1.9-billion stadium near the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) this week announced that local and state authorities have approved fan attendance for at least the first two Rebel home games this season.
Under health guidelines, the university can allow 3 percent of the stadium’s capacity, or 2,000 fans, to attend. The stadium is just west of the Las Vegas Strip near the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
The university’s plans for fan attendance at its other two home games this year will require approval from the Southern Nevada Health District and Nevada Department of Business and Industry.
Masks and social distancing are mandatory inside the stadium.
The team’s first home game which fans can attend is Oct. 31 at 7:30 pm against the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR).
The Rebels and Wolf Pack are in-state rivals that compete in an annual battle for the Fremont Cannon. Reno is about 440 miles north of Las Vegas.
The game also involves a friendly north-south rivalry among the schools fans, including political and business leaders. Brian Sandoval, a former Nevada Republican governor and MGM Resorts executive, recently was named UNR’s president. He is a UNR graduate and avid Wolf Pack fan.
The second UNLV home game, which fans also can attend, is Nov. 7 at 12:30 pm against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Like UNLV, Fresno State and UNR are members of the 12-team Mountain West Conference.
Mountain West Games
The Rebels opened their season on Oct. 24 on the road against the San Diego State Aztecs, a Mountain West opponent.
Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, UNLV had been scheduled to open its 12-game season at home on Aug. 29 against the Pac-12’s University of California Golden Bears.
However, concerns about COVID-19 prompted the Mountain West to postpone football and other fall sports.
Conference officials later ruled that football teams can play an eight-game schedule beginning Oct. 24. The new schedule includes four home games. UNLV’s last two home games are Nov. 27 against the Wyoming Cowboys and Dec. 4 against the Boise State Broncos. Both are Mountain West opponents.
Impact on Sportsbooks
The first football game ever played at Allegiant Stadium was a Sept. 21 contest between the Las Vegas Raiders and New Orleans Saints. The Raiders won, 34-24.
Unlike some National Football League (NFL) teams, the Raiders are playing their home games without fans in attendance. The next home game for the Raiders, now with a 3-2 record, is Oct. 25 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Raiders moved to Las Vegas from Oakland at the end of last season.
Without fans traveling to Las Vegas to attend NFL home games, sportsbooks in Southern Nevada could see a “decreased handle,” according to Ben Fawkes of the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN). NFL games are considered the most widely bet competitions in the country.
However, Fawkes told Casino.org that COVID-19 restrictions at sportsbooks have more impact on the handle than fans not attending games.