We had the opportunity to attend a Las Vegas Raiders game with seats in the 6th row on the 40 yard line of the visiting team. We’re fans of Fresno State alumni and quarterback Derek Carr and jumped at the chance to watch him play professionally in person.
We flew in on Friday night aboard Southwest Airlines. This was the first time we used this carrier, and everything was fine except the assigned seating nuance. Your pick your seat as you board. Here was the coaching I received from my Sister-in-law (who also was the one kind enough to offer us the Raiders tickets):
“Boarding group and number order is assigned at check-in and check in opens exactly 24 hrs before the flight. The trick: set your calendar to alarm 23 hrs 55 minutes prior to his flight time. Put the app for southwest on your phone. Be sure to have a frequent flyer number to get better priority. The app has a spot on the bottom labeled ‘check in.’ Log in a few minutes ahead and at exactly 24 hrs before the flight push "check in.” This gives you a group and number assignment- in A, B. C groups and then your number within the group you’re assigned. At the airport line up according to your group and number. People are pretty fastidious about this lining up thing. If you log in as soon as you can=24 hrs before flight- you will get an early boarding spot in the A or B group. With any A or B group you can always grab a window or aisle and sit wherever you feel like. You can pay extra to get "Early Bird automatic check in" which checks in for you and you always get in the A group. The other catch is that if you pay for the pricey Business Select ticket you are guaranteed a spot in the A group 1-15. So the rest of the early bird folks will then have a number after any Business Select ticket- the general public can get A spots if not a lot of folks pay that extra. If you forget to check in until the last minute you will board in the late group and get stuck with only middle seats. So, it pays to jump on it as soon as check- in opens.”
I know, right? How crazy is this? And the tickets were not any less cost than other airlines. It also affected what we were doing at the critical 24 hours mark to make sure we had cell service and were in a place where it was appropriate to use your phone to check-in.
We stayed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel because they have a direct path to the stadium. In fact, the view from our room was of the new Allegiant Stadium.
Anyhow, we got in late, and we were all hungry. It was after 10 pm and most of the restaurants had already closed. I am surprised that a city like Las Vegas would not offer many eating options past 10 pm.
Saturday, we had an amazing brunch at the Border Grill Restaurant at the resort. It’s a fixed price menu where you can select unlimited small plates of Mexican fusion entrees. The weather today included 24 mile and hour winds which somewhat limited what we could do outside, so we decided to check out the Shark Reef Aquarium with over 2,000 animals, including sharks, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha and a Komodo dragon.
That evening, we went to the Michael Jackson ONE by cirque du Soleil show. The music, of course, was great, especially Thriller. I was expecting more acrobatics from the performers. Overall, I give it a solid B. One surprise was when you enter into the theater there are performers pretending to be paparazzi. They are snapping photos with cameras that have the bright flashes. When we got to our seats, we noticed that they had pulled some of the pictures and photoshopped them into newspaper tabloids that filled two of the three giant screens. My photo was one of the few that was used – it’s startling to see yourself blown up to that extent. I would have had a better smile if I would have known!
After the show, our son Michael had found a restaurant in the Venetian called Mott 32, known for their Peking Duck dinners. They are so popular that you must preorder 48 hours in advance because of the quantity limit and time it takes to prepare them. I made reservations for 9:45 pm, allowing plenty of time to get from the Mandalay to the Venetian. I found a blogger who wrote about taking the monorail which would only take a few minutes and cost less than a taxi. I thought a monorail ride would be a fun addition to our itinerary. Wrong. It turns out there are two. One is city-ran the other is privately funded. You must walk from one casino to another with NO WAYFINDING SIGNAGE in order to switch rails. It reminded me of the 40 years the Jews wandered in the desert. And this was in the middle of having to do our 24-hour check-in for our flight tomorrow. By the time we figured it out and arrived at the Venetian, they had cancelled our reservation and had closed for the evening. It was after 10 pm and all the restaurants had closed. We ended up having dinner at an Outback, of all places. We decided to return on the monorail since we now knew the way. Only to find out that the privately funded rail had closed for the night. I really can’t understand how a city that brags about being open all night, has so many things closed so early, especially on the Strip. We ended up walking from the Excalibur back to the Mandalay.
The next morning, even though it was still a bit windy, we went to the resort’s Lazy River, wave pool and hot tub to soak before the game. At the stadium, you can’t bring in any big purses or back packs. You can bring in a see-through carrier or a plastic bag for your things so I had to determine what I would leave in my suitcase, which was now checked at the bell desk in the resort, as we planned on heading to the airport from the resort after the game. Walking from the resort to the stadium felt like I was in a parade. Thousands of people, many dressed in typical Raiders garb, were enjoying the ability to cover an entire six lanes of the overpass leading to the stadium. Chants of “Raidddd erssss” reverberating throughout the crowd. We had been to an Oakland Raiders game years ago. The fans there made us feel like we were in a prison yard. The Las Vegas fans were just as enthusiastic, but more cleaned up, if you will.
Our seats were epic. The stadium was beautiful with all the bells and whistles. Watching an NFL game that close has a vibe all its own. And they won! Making it all the more fun. We joked that Derek just needed some hometown support to win. Maybe he’ll invite us back as a lucky charm 😊
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.