Sphinx Joins Raider Nation on Las Vegas Strip, As Fans Debate Vaccine

Sphinx Joins Raider Nation on Las Vegas Strip, As Fans Debate Vaccine

A large Sphinx replica on the Las Vegas Strip has joined the silver-and-black Raider Nation by sporting an eye patch based on the Las Vegas NFL team’s logo.

Sphinx at Luxor Hotel and Casino
Sphinx at Luxor Hotel and Casino
The Sphinx at the Luxor Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip wears a Raiders eye patch. The resort is near Allegiant Stadium, where the Las Vegas NFL team plays home games. (Image: WHIO-TV)

The eye patch was applied to the Sphinx at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in advance of the Raiders’ regular season opener Monday night at home against the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams play in the NFL’s American Football Conference.

The Raiders’ longtime logo shows a football player with a black patch over his right eye. The player is wearing a vintage football helmet with an unfastened chin strap, and is framed by crossed swords.

The pyramid-shaped Luxor is on the west side of the Las Vegas Strip near the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino. The Raiders, who previously were located in Oakland and Los Angeles, play their home games at Allegiant Stadium, just west of the Luxor and Mandalay Bay resorts. Raiders fans, including a large number in California, are known as the Raider Nation. This is the team’s second season in Las Vegas after moving from Oakland.

Enthusiasm for Monday’s game was evident in ticket prices. The lowest price on the StubHub website on Sunday was $180 each for two tickets in an upper corner. Club section tickets near the field were selling on StubHub for $3,000 each.

Fans Debate Vaccine Mandate

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first season the Raiders will play before fans at Allegiant Stadium. Since fans could not attend games last year, owner Mark Davis said he also would not go to the games.

This year, fans are required to be inoculated against COVID-19 to attend games. Vaccinated fans are not required to wear a face covering. Vaccination sites will be set up at the stadium, allowing newly vaccinated fans to enter with a mask.

On the Raiders’ Facebook page, the vaccine requirement, the first of its kind in the NFL, prompted comments from some fans who oppose the policy and others who support it.

“Guess I’ll never see the Raiders play in Vegas,” wrote a Facebook user, identified as Henry Coggins.

A user identified as Raider Man wrote, “Get vaccinated, you Big Babies!! I’ll be on the 40-yard line, and you will be crying in bed!!!”

Leagues Shunned Las Vegas

At one time, major sports leagues distanced themselves from sports betting and casinos, in part because of the influence of organized crime on sports wagering. 

Decades ago, Las Vegas was shunned as the permanent location for a major sports franchise, though the NBA’s Utah Jazz and MLB’s Oakland Athletics played a few regular-season games in the Las Vegas Valley on a temporary basis. 

Now the NFL’s Raiders, NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, and WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces play their home games there. Massive jerseys representing the Raiders, Golden Knights, and Aces have been placed on the Lady Liberty statue at New York-New York Hotel and Casino on the Strip.

As this occurs, the Oakland A’s are contemplating moving to the city.

A new television ad from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority touts Las Vegas as a destination for sports enthusiasts. The ad does not show gambling or any gambling tables or slots machines.

However, for those interesting in betting, the Raiders on Sunday were a 4-point underdog in their Monday night game against the Ravens, according to Caesars Sportsbook.

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