Las Vegas Raiders Consider Three Cities As Contingency Plans Should Coronavirus Delay Stadium Construction

The coronavirus outbreak that has ground sports to a halt across the U.S. could force the Las Vegas Raiders to delay their move into Allegiant Stadium.

The franchise officially left Oakland in January and was due to move into its shiny new home in Sin City ahead of the 2020 NFL season. Work on the 65,000-capacity stadium remains on track—the roof should be completed within two weeks—leaving the Raiders enough time to host two preseason games, which will serve as a trial run for the new venue ahead of the team's eight home games in the upcoming regular-season campaign.

However, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the franchise has explored contingency plans to move games elsewhere should the coronavirus outbreak significantly delay construction work on the stadium.

Salt Lake City, Utah, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California, have all been mentioned as possible alternatives to Vegas, although it is worth noting the franchise considers playing outside Vegas only a worst-case scenario.

Upon leaving Oakland, California, in January, the Raiders indicated they could play at the at Oakland Alameda Coliseum next season, should Allegiant Stadium not be ready in time. A potential return to their former home, however, appears to have fallen by the wayside, with a trio of other destinations emerging as a back-up plan.

Should the worst-case scenario materialize, the Raiders would face significant travel disruptions. Of the three cities mentioned in the report, Phoenix is the closest and is still 4 hours and 45 minutes by car from Vegas, while San Diego and Salt Lake City are five and six hours away, respectively.

According to CBS, a temporary move to Arizona could see the Raiders play at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale—the home of the Arizona Cardinals—or Chase Field—the home of MLB team Arizona Diamondbacks.

In San Diego, meanwhile, the Raiders could play at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium, the former home of the then-San Diego Chargers between 1961 and 2016. Meanwhile, Rice-Eccles Stadium, the home of the Utah Utes football team, is reportedly the franchise's preferred destination in Salt Lake City.

Should a delay arise, however, the Raiders could still work around it without moving away from Vegas. For example, the franchise could use the preseason and the early part of the regular season to complete work on the stadium, although that would require the team playing on the road in the first weeks of the regular season.

That could feasibly be done when the NFL releases its regular schedule next month.

While the NBA and NHL have been suspended indefinitely and the MLB has postponed the beginning of its regular season to a yet-to-be-determined date because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NFL remains adamant the season will begin as scheduled on September 10.

Allegiant Stadium, which will also host the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Rebels, cost approximately $1.9 billion, with the state of Nevada contributing $750 million.

The Raiders agreed a 30-year lease with the venue in 2017, which means that Vegas should host an NFL franchise for the next three decades at least.

Las Vegas Raiders, Allegiant Stadium
Delano Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (L) and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino are shown east of Allegiant Stadium, the glass-domed future home of the Las Vegas Raiders, under construction on April 3 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders and the UNLV Rebels football teams are scheduled to begin play at the 65,000-seat facility in their 2020 seasons. Ethan Miller/Getty