The Raiders’ arrival in Las Vegas could come sooner than anticipated.
The team is seriously considering moving its training camp from Napa, California, to its new headquarters in Henderson. According to a person close to the team who was not authorized to speak on the record, training camp at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center is a viable option.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, team headquarters across the NFL have been entirely or partially closed since March. That has forced teams to conduct offseason programs virtually rather than at their practice facilities.
But with more and more teams getting approved to reopen their buildings for their business employees, and the growing possibility of coaches and players being allowed to return within the next few weeks as well, there is optimism that the NFL can get back on track in time for teams to conduct normal minicamps in early or mid-June and for training camps to open as typically scheduled in late July.
Prior to COVID-19 throwing everything out of whack, the Raiders had expressed a desire to hold their June minicamp in Henderson at their new facility, which includes three outdoor football fields and a 150,000-square-foot field house that will house one-and-a-half indoor fields.
The original plan was to bide their time in Alameda, California, until construction of the Henderson building was completed in early June, at which point players and staff would get comfortable in their new practice facility during minicamp.
“I don’t really want the players walking around like this, ‘Wow, this is cool,’ while we’re getting ready for week one,” Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said in February. “I want to get all the shock and awe out of there. Get them used to it. Know where their meetings are, where everything is in the building. And when we get back from training camp, it’s ‘Let’s go to work.’ ”
COVID-19 altered the Alameda phase of that plan. But provided Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gives the thumbs up, and all league and state protocols and requirements are met, Raiders coaches and players could officially christen their new facility with a minicamp within the next few weeks.
The decision on where to have training camp would loom next.
The Raiders have enjoyed a long and happy training camp relationship with Napa, with the Marriott Hotel serving as an ideal spot for a makeshift team headquarters and providing sufficient space for lodging, meetings and training facilities.
The Napa option remains on the table, but Raiders officials say there are compelling reasons for making the switch to Henderson.
First, with COVID-19 still creating health uncertainties, it would eliminate having to move and accommodate an entire team, coaching staff and support staff at an off-site location for the length of training camp. Instead, players and staff could make the short commute from their Las Vegas area homes to Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center just as they would throughout the rest of the year.
Or, should the Raiders want players and coaches to replicate the training camp regimen as closely as possible, they could also commandeer a nearby hotel to use as a camp command center, then bus the short distance to the practice facility.
As importantly, with the Raiders still in the process of making the official move from California to Nevada, it would give coaches and players more time to get acclimated to their new surroundings.
It would also eliminate the need to make multiple moves within a short period of time. Under the original timetable, the Raiders would have conducted minicamp in Alameda in June, followed by training camp in Napa from late July to mid -August. And finally, there would have been a hurried transition from Napa to Las Vegas just ahead of the start of the regular season.
By making the switch from Napa to Henderson for both minicamp and training camp, it would significantly streamline that process.
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