As the sun set on Las Vegas, the show began. Behind the speakers was the same view of the strip which is in the plans for the 65,000-seat domed stadium for which the groundbreaking ceremony was taking place.
Celebrities on hand included Carlos Santana, longtime Vegas icon Wayne Newton, and Howie D and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys.
Raiders legends Howie Long, Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores, and Ray Guy were also in attendance.
The one-hour show opened with Judith Hill and the Las Vegas House of Blues Gospel Choir performing ‘Rise up’ in tribute of those lives lost in the Las Vegas shooting a little over a month ago on October 1. In the backdrop was 58 beams of light for the 58 people shot and killed.
Mark Davis then took the stage to open the show. He started out by honoring the politicians and first responders – many of whom were in attendance -- for their work during and after that terrorist attack which took place at a concert at the Mandalay Bay, whose golden towers could be seen in the the backdrop of the ceremony.
He segued the “teamwork” it took in such a tragedy to the teamwork it took to get the Raiders to Las Vegas.
“Tonight we are celebrating another display of teamwork,” Davis continued. “When we told you ‘Help us build it and we will come’, you all answered our call. We formed a partnership. A public, private partnership. A partnership in which everyone wins. And tonight, as a result of that partnership, we are breaking ground on the most magnificent stadium right here in the entertainment capital of the world.
“For all the players, coaches, administrators, and fans who over the years have proudly worn the Silver & Black, this is our field of dreams. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for helping make this dream become a reality.”
“Before passing it to our Master of Ceremonies, I would like to introduce someone very special to me. The first lady of the Raider Nation, my mom, Carol Davis. I’m so happy she could be here to witness this historic event. I only wish my father could be here as well. But I know he’s up there smiling proudly. For he always said ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future’. And thanks to all of you, the future is now. Las Vegas, the Raiders are coming.”
MC George Lopez took the stage, calling himself “A tremendous Raiders fan and have always been.”
Lopez introduced Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval who led out by saying “Now it’s real, right? This is one of the more transformative moments of my life.”
“Mark, welcome to the Nevada family,” Sandoval continued. “The Raider Nation is now part of the Nevada family. Thank you.” He went on to describe Mark Davis as “a man of integrity, a man of his word.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance. Sandoval spoke directly to whom a couple times, praising the backdrop as the best in the NFL, and asking about putting the Super Bowl in Las Vegas in 2025.
Goodell took the stage next, responding to Sandoval, “Governor, you’re right on the setting. Only in Vegas can you turn a groundbreaking ceremony into a show.”
“The Raiders hold a special place in the hearts of football fans around the world. And we appreciate how they’ve been embraced by the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. This community has a clear vision which is a tribute to the community and business leadership. Relentless, determined, and laser focus. But your team earned it and now you’re on your way to building a state-of-the-art stadium and creating the impact that you all envisioned originally.
“It’s the get it done state. And that’s the attitude of people here in Las Vegas. They will help raise the bar for sports and entertainment experiences and make this stadium the place to be. Not just for football, but for other events throughout the year for all of Las Vegas and fans around the world for years to come. That’s what all of you, Mark and the Raiders organization, have planned for this stadium which will be seen around the world as a reflection of the spirit of Las Vegas; a resilient city on the rise.
“Mark, I’m proud to be here with you today . . . This is a very significant day in the franchise’s storied history and a tangible symbol of the team’s future here in Las Vegas.”
“And now as an NFL city, we will work hard to continue to earn your support and make all of us proud. Congratulations and thank you very much.”
At that point, Goodell took a silver Raiders shovel and silver hardhats, along with Mark Davis and Governor Sandoval for the ceremonial dig. And, of course, Mark Davis played his shovel like a guitar.
Next up was Raiders president Marc Badain, who used the word “Transformative” five times in the first sentence, referring to what the stadium will do for the city and the community.
Badain thanked and introduced several local politicians for their work getting this done. Then he brought to the stage Mayor Carolyn Goodman, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, and Steve Hill of the Southern Nevada Infrastructure committee for another ceremonial dig.
Mayor Goodman and long time Vegas resident said, “I met Al Davis and his lovely wife Carol back in ’64 for the first time and they were staying at the Desert Inn. They came over to the Riviera where I was working and they brought an annoying child. And that annoying child kept coming back every time they came back here. But we love you, Mark, and Mrs Davis, Carol, God bless your husband, he’s up there and we know that.”
Goodman went on to officially name November 13 ‘Las Vegas Raiders Day’. Whatever that means.
Lopez put a bow on it, ending by saying “It is now official, Raider Nation is coming to Las Vegas. . . The brightest city on earth just got brighter.”
And just as she opened the show, Judith Hill played out the ceremony with a rendition of “Feelin’ Good”.