I toured the Raiders’ new stadium site Sunday morning and learned much about the difficulties of building a stadium in the heatbox of southern Nevada, and about the interesting wrinkles of this stadium. The structural steel is in place; in fact, when you drive north on I-15 from the airport, the specter of the stadium just to the west of the interstate changes the skyline significantly. It seems amazing that there will be football in this place in 13 months, but I was assured the stadium would be done in time for the 2020 season. Some 200 workers were on the job at 10 a.m. Sunday, as the temperature inched into the high nineties.
A few notes of interest:
• There are 1,700 construction workers on the job, working two shifts most days. The first shift starts at 5:30 a.m. and runs till mid-afternoon. The second shift starts at 4:30 p.m. and runs till about 2 a.m. Most of the concrete is poured at night and not in summertime months because it’s too hard to set when temperatures are into the low hundreds most days.
• The stadium will be domed by a semi-translucent roof and the playing surface will be natural grass. Lots of attention has been paid to the semi-translucent roof. Raiders owner Mark Davis wanted natural light to flow through the covering of the stadium, both for more outdoors-looking visuals and because he insisted on real grass. As with the Cardinals’ stadium in suburban Phoenix, the grass will slide in and out of the stadium on trays, and sit just west of the stadium. The experience in Arizona, and with so many golf courses that bake for five or six months a year here have left stadium management confident that real grass can be used year round in the building.
• I wondered how, for an early September 1 p.m. PT game where the temperature outside could be 108, the fans in large swaths of the stadium would be able to sit in comfort with the sun shining down on them. I was told 9,000 tons of cooling would help. The roof will also have other elements to block significant portions of solar radiation, and the seating areas should have temperatures in the seventies even with full attendance on the sunniest and hottest days.
• The Al Davis Memorial Torch, a 90-foot-high structure with an eternal flame that Mark Davis wanted built to honor his late father, the founder of the Raiders, is taking shape in the peristyle plaza on the east side of the stadium. That’s sure to be the signature TV shot in the early days of the stadium.
• UNLV will play its football games here too, as will the Las Vegas Bowl, and the city will push for a Super Bowl in the next round of bidding for the game.