It was supposed to be a groundbreaking ceremony, but entertainers and Hall of Famers made it something more.
“Only in Vegas can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday, when the Raiders broke ground for their new Las Vegas stadium that’s scheduled to open for the 2020-21 season.
Raiders owner Mark Davis was joined by Goodell and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval in turning the first dirt.
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“We’re excited ... (but) it’s tough to celebrate the opportunity that we’ve got here,” Davis said in an ESPN interview, adding that the team doesn’t want to disrespect the fans in Oakland, where the team originated in 1960 and has played two stints (1960-81, 1995-present) with a stop in Los Angeles in between.
So what about the Oakland fans when the team kicks off in Las Vegas?
“Hopefully they’ll follow us here,” Davis said.
A crowd of about 1,000 people turned out for the event. Among those in attendance were former Raiders Cliff Branch and Tom Flores, as well as Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff and Howie Long, Grammy Award-winning musician Carlos Santana, Vegas entertainer Wayne Newton and NFL team owners Robert Kraft (New England Patriots), Stan Kroenke (Los Angeles Rams) and Dean Spanos (Los Angeles Chargers).
The 65,000-seat stadium will be placed on the UNLV campus, where the Raiders will share it with the university, according to The Associated Press.
The ceremony paid tribute to the 58 people killed in the Oct. 1 concert shooting in Las Vegas by shining a light for each victim behind the stage.