Inside “The Death Star”

Vegas stadium tours lure Ballantyne visitors

Photos and text by Krisha Chachra

There is a new attraction in Sin City, and in true Vegas form, it’s a big one. Owner Mark Davis fondly nicknamed the latest National Football League stadium and concert venue “The Death Star.” Its futuristic outside belies its nostalgic inside. The new home of the Las Vegas Raiders honors the history of two rebels that found each other — the city and the franchise.

After your non-stop flight from Charlotte to Las Vegas, you can be at Allegiant Stadium in 15 minutes. The shiny, bowl-shaped structure sits on 62 acres of land in Paradise, Nevada, across from the MGM casino and west of Interstate 15. At a price tag of $1.9 billion, the stadium is the second most expensive in the world. It didn’t open its doors to the public until the 2021 football season, and now, in a rare move, it is open to visitors.

The torch's flame burns in memory of team owner Al Davis, who died in 2011. His quote says, "The fire that burns the brightest in the Raiders organization is the will to win."

If you’re traveling to Las Vegas with kids, this is an activity to put on your list. You don’t have to be a football fan, just interested in sleek architecture and high-tech infrastructure. Prepare to be wowed.

The tour is spectacular and led by knowledgeable guides who give you insights behind every decision and piece of décor. The art — comprised of over 400 pieces and curated by local artist Michael Godard — reflects the combined stories of Vegas and the Raiders. Think huge canvases of Elvis wearing a Raiders jersey or Frank Sinatra in a Raiders cap. The décor also honors the legacy of Al Davis, Raiders owner and the only NFL executive to be assistant coach, coach, general manager, commissioner and owner of a football franchise.

When you first walk into the 10-story stadium, you find yourself at the base of a torch standing 92 feet with signatures from celebrities and former coaches, including the late John Madden. Up the escalator, the entire venue brightens with natural light pouring through floor-to-ceiling retractable windows. The torch’s flame burns in memory of Al Davis, who died in 2011. The torch is considered the largest 3D-printed object in the world and provides panoramic views of the city, Spring Mountain range and the desert.

The torch is currently the largest 3D-printed object in the world and provides panoramic views of the city, Spring Mountain range and the desert.

Stepping on the giant Raiders insignia is considered bad luck. It's roped off accordingly in the players' locker room.

Everything in the stadium is convenient and modern. If you set your smartphone down on any bar table surface overlooking the field, it will charge automatically.

Tour highlights include stops at the broadcast booth; the Davis family’s owners suites with white leather seats and private bars; the Ubeo Press Conference Room; the Raiderettes’ (cheerleaders) locker room and the players’ locker room. In the middle of the players’ locker room is a giant Raiders insignia that is bad luck to step on. The team has roped it off, so you won’t get too close. Near the donor lounge, you can see three Vince Lombardi trophies on display: one for every Super Bowl the Raiders have won.

Three Vince Lombardi trophies are on display: one for every Super Bowl the Raiders have won.
On game days, a field of Bermuda grass gets rolled in on a tray that covers the turf seen here.

Finally, you will find yourself on the field, the most thrilling part of the tour. If there isn’t a game or event scheduled for the night of your visit, you can experience the rush of energy as you stand under the bright lights and the giant screen above you. The turf you step on is placed directly on the concrete floor below. However, the Raiders prefer to play on natural Bermuda grass. They roll it in on a tray from the south end zone without disrupting the turf underneath. When the game is over, they roll it out again so the grass can grow in the desert sunshine. 

The stadium’s innovation aligns with how Raiders owner Al Davis was ahead of his time. During the ‘60s, he wouldn’t let the Raiders play in any city that didn’t 

allow black and white players to stay in the same hotels. He was also the first owner to hire a black coach, Art Shell, and a female chief executive, Amy Trask.

Davis’s son, Mark, the current owner, furthers his father’s vision of equality and access. He allows general admission ticket holders to sit at any bar tables along the Coors Light Landing and enjoy the terrific seats and view of the field. Whether you’re visiting this stadium for a game, concert or a tour, you’ll be winning, which is a rarity anywhere else in Vegas.

Plan Your Visit

Allegiant Stadium will host the 2022 NFL Draft from April 28 to 30. Residents of Charlotte can still buy tickets to the event and catch flights to Vegas.

The team added 40 additional suites to the south end zone, the main concourse and the lower level to make the stadium more attractive for a Super Bowl. It worked. Allegiant Stadium will host Super Bowl LVIII in 2024. You can reserve your spot for first dibs on tickets here.

Yet, you won’t have to pay super-sized ticket prices to see the inside. Select the date and time you’d like to take a tour at Admission costs $59 per person over the age of two for regular admission, or you can upgrade to “Drink and a View” for $80. The latter includes a drink ticket and extra time at the Al Davis memorial torch balcony. The tour lasts around 75 minutes, and there is plenty of time to browse the gift shop and other areas on the main floor. The venue is cashless, so make sure you bring credit cards to make purchases inside the stadium.

Krisha Chachra is a freelance travel writer based in the Ballantyne area who has traveled to over 50 countries and six continents always searching for good stories. Her husband is a lifelong Raiders fan.

Travel writer Krisha Chachra visited "The Death Star" with her family and enjoyed the tour, especially standing on the 50 yard line.