UNLV exit makes Sam Boyd Stadium future hang in balance


Las Vegas Sam Boyd Stadium Image: Erik Verduzco / Las Vegas Review-Journal

It was an emotional moment at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday (read November 23), as UNLV Rebels made San Jose State bite the dust 38-35.

It was the send-off hour for the intercollegiate athletics team that represent the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). It was the 299th and final game for the Rebels (2-8, 0-6) at Sam Boyd Stadium they have called home for the last 49 years.

The UNLV rebels are scheduled to play their first football game near the Strip at the Allegiant Stadium vs California Golden Bears on August 29, 2020. The domed stadium is under construction at Paradise, Nevada, in United States and will serve as the new home for the Las Vegas Rebels college team and Las Vegas Raiders.

“I remember my freshman year, I was so nervous coming into that stadium,” said an emotional junior running back Charles Williams.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m really playing college football.’ It’s been so long since I’ve been here, and it’s really sad we’re not going to be playing there anymore,” Williams further stated.

“We really wanted to be (in the) Mountain West championship and be in the Las Vegas Bowl, and it hurts that we won’t be able to do that. But we get one more chance to show y’all something and give our hearts out for the team, the fans and all the support we got from everybody,” Williams added.

Though UNLV has vacated the facility, in the coming months other events are scheduled to take place. The last one is the AMA Monster Energy Super Cross on April 25. As per UNLV’s contract with Allegiant Stadium, the team cannot play at Sam Boyd after June 30 next year.

There are lot of speculations doing the rounds as to what will happen to Sam Boyd Stadium – locals fondly call it the Silver Bowl – as Rebels move into the nearly $2 billion Allegiant Stadium near the Strip in 2020. Will it be shutters down for a long time like Houston Astrodome in Texas or will it be pulled down in keeping with the Las Vegas tradition of knocking down buildings past their prime?

“We are evaluating the property and its place in the university’s long-term plans. The analysis is ongoing, and no decision has been made at this time,” UNLV Acting President Marta Meana remarked.

There are three likely options before the varsity authorities: Sell the nearly 70 acres over which the stadium and its surrounding areas are housed. Clark County also owns 92 neighboring acres, so one prospect is that the area may be used for some other business or the county or a private business sets up an entertainment or sports district; Going in for a land swap. Under such a scenario, UNLV could swap some land parcels and sell others, giving the university flexibility; and the third option is to retain the property and then decide how to use it in the best manner possible. UNLV also owns 42 acres of land near McCarran International Airport and 2,000 acres in North Las Vegas. Satellite campuses or research laboratories could come up. The least probable scenario is that the status quo of the stadium be maintained just in case the Rebels do not find the going smooth at Allegiant Stadium.

Sam Boyd Stadium has been a wonderful home for our football program, and we are looking forward to the future in Allegiant Stadium,” Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois shared.

“We are grateful for the long-standing support from the Boyd family. The decision on what happens next with Sam Boyd Stadium is an ongoing, collaborative process that involves the entire campus,” Reed-Francois added.

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