The Hacienda was an iconic hotel back in the day.
South of that on Las Vegas Boulevard, there wasn’t much. Across the road was a place called Mr. Deli, situated in the middle of a plaza and a place we could always count on buying beer without getting carded. The place also had outstanding sandwiches.
Now, carved into 63 acres of land at the intersection of Interstate 15 and Russell Road, just up from where the Hacienda once was, $1.8 billion Allegiant Stadium is well on its way to be completed.
The Raiders are indeed coming to Sin City. And with them, I suppose, will be the notorious Black Hole.
Every team has a rabid cheering fan section: The Bills have their Mafia, the Browns have their Dawg Pound, ‘Fireman Ed’ leads chants at Jet games, the Bengals and Saints have ‘Who Dey’ and ‘Who Dat’ respectively… you get the point.
Then there’s the venomous crew from the Black Hole.
All apologies aside, from NFL officiating chief Al Riveron, and despite the bad call contributing to the Raiders’ late-game collapse against Jacksonville, those fans in that hole didn’t care. The intimidating group was incredibly salty with the way their beloved silver and black ended its relationship with Oakland for a second time. The Raiders left Oakland in 1982 for Los Angeles and returned in 1995.
I get it, it hurts. You’ll likely never get to call them the Oakland Raiders again. One playoff appearance in 17 years and no wins? That doesn’t help.
But how do you salute the team? Amidst a chorus of boos, and by throwing trash and spewing hate at quarterback Derek Carr as he exited the field. Media members hoping to get interviews with fans in the section were warned and escorted by security to avoid any danger.
I can think of numerous events I’ve covered in Las Vegas — UNLV football and basketball, NHL, NBA preseason and playoff games, XFL, CFL, AFL, Boxing — and I don’t know if there’s ever been a cause for concern when it comes to local fans getting ugly.
I can only imagine what will take place when a father wants to bring his son to his first NFL game, and they happen to be Broncos fans. Or Chiefs. Or Chargers.
I will say this, at least most of the fans in the Black Hole let the Raiders leave the field before hopping the rail and jumping onto it one last time. That was nice of them.
It was also nice of the man at Mr. Deli to look past the card-checking process when buying beer before we were 21.
But, as Taylor Swift’s song says, we can’t have nice things. If I don’t get a winning week soon, I’ll be ready to crawl into a black hole. I went 3-3 last week and look to build some momentum for the playoffs these next two weeks.
Bills +6.5 at Patriots: The expectations have grown in Buffalo, as the Bills are now 10-4 after their playoff-clinching 17-10 win over Pittsburgh. A win in Foxborough puts these teams in a tie atop the AFC East. Let that marinate. BILLS
Raiders +5.5 at Chargers: Nobody felt worse about Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars than Carr. And it wouldn’t just further raise the ire of football fans in Oakland to see the Raiders steal a road win in Los Angeles. It seems only fitting. RAIDERS
Jaguars at Falcons -7: Two teams off two shocking wins. But Atlanta’s win was much more impressive, and there’s been much better play from the Falcons in the second half of the season than we’ve seen from the Jags. Home finale factor weighs in for me. FALCONS
Giants at Redskins -2.5: Washington will also play its home finale on Sunday, and Dwayne Haskins will certainly be out to give the fans a preview of what’s to come. Haskins and former Ohio State teammate Terry McLaurin will have a big game. REDSKINS
Bengals at Dolphins -1: Back-to-back losses at MetLife Stadium will have the Dolphins pumped up for the worst team in football. Forget about tanking and the No. 1 draft pick, Miami isn’t losing to this team. DOLPHINS
Packers +4.5 at Vikings: The NFC North is at stake, as nothing is certain with one game separating these teams. And while I’m not sold on Green Bay’s receiving corps for the postseason, I’m certainly betting on Aaron Rodgers’ success against Minnesota. He’s 13-8-1 lifetime against the Vikings and with much at stake here, will be at his best. PACKERS
Last week: 3-3