Sam Boyd Stadium is a football stadium in Whitney, Nevada, United States, an unincorporated community in the Las Vegas Valley. It honors Sam Boyd (1910–1993), a major figure in the hotel and casino industry in Las Vegas. The stadium consists of an uncovered horseshoe-shaped single-decked bowl, with temporary seating occasionally erected in the open north end zone. The field has a conventional north-south orientation and is at an elevation of 1,600 feet (490 m) above sea level.
The stadium is the home of the UNLV Rebels football team from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the annual Las Vegas Bowl in December. It is also used for high school football championship games and at times regular-season high school games for Bishop Gorman High School. The final race of the Monster Energy Supercross series is located here every year. Since 2010, it has hosted the USA Sevens leg of the annual World Rugby Sevens Series in the sevens version of rugby union. Several teams have called the stadium home over the years, including the Las Vegas Quicksilvers of the North American Soccer League, the Las Vegas Posse of the Canadian Football League, the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL, and the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.
The stadium was completed 46 years ago on October 23, 1971, at a cost of $3.5 million. Originally known as Las Vegas Stadium, the name was changed to Las Vegas Silver Bowl in 1978, Sam Boyd Silver Bowl in 1984 and Sam Boyd Stadium in April 1993. The seating capacity was 15,000 from 1971 until 1977, raised to 32,000 in 1978 and to 36,800 in 1999. Except from 1999 to 2002, the stadium has had an artificial turf surface. A $1.2 million renovation during the summer of 2015 replaced field turf that hadn’t been changed out in more than a decade and was severely worn from usage. Additionally, two rows totaling 860 seats were removed from the east and west sidelines to widen the field and drop Sam Boyd’s capacity to 35,500.
With the Oakland Raiders' move to Las Vegas a new stadium tentatively called Las Vegas Stadium is under construction. The UNLV Rebels will join the Raiders at the new stadium in 2020, which may lead to the eventual demolition of Sam Boyd Stadium. It has been suggested that Sam Boyd Stadium could serve as a temporary home for the Raiders should fan support in Oakland fall to levels that could not reasonably be accommodated at the facility (the Los Angeles Chargers have come to a similar arrangement and will play in a stadium that is even smaller than Sam Boyd Stadium, while in the 1990s the Tennessee Oilers came to a similar arrangement in Nashville after they left an apathetic Houston market before their new stadium was ready). The exact future of the stadium remains up in the air, as UNLV officials are considering selling it or turning it into a Raiders practice facility.
Since 1992, the stadium has been the site of the annual Las Vegas Bowl. In recent years, the game has been very well attended. In 2005, Brigham Young University made its first postseason appearance since 2001 and excited BYU fans over-filled the stadium; the announced attendance was a record 40,053. The following season, BYU returned to the Las Vegas Bowl as a nationally ranked team. Additional seating was arranged at Sam Boyd Stadium for the 2006 game; the resulting attendance of 44,615 was the largest crowd to watch a team sports event in the history of the state of Nevada. In 2007, BYU made its third straight appearance and attendance was 40,712. BYU made its fourth straight appearance 2008, ranked #16 in the nation and faced off against the Arizona Wildcats who made their first bowl appearance since 1998. Arizona won the contest, 31–21; 40,047 attended the game which featured David Hasselhoff singing the national anthem.
Following the 1976 season of the North American Soccer League, the San Diego Jaws decided to relocate and become the Las Vegas Quicksilvers. Despite a roster featuring international superstar Eusébio, the Quicksilvers could only manage an 11–15 record and a 5th-place finish in their division. They averaged an attendance of 7,092 per game. When the 1977 season ended, the franchise opted to move back to San Diego after only one year and became the San Diego Sockers. They were followed by the Las Vegas Seagulls, who played in the American Soccer League. They compiled a record of 7–18–3 in their only season in 1979.
In 1999, the stadium hosted the CONCACAF Champions Cup tournament. Real Madrid (Spain) defeated Santos Laguna (Mexico) 2–1 in a friendly match played on a temporary grass pitch in Sam Boyd Stadium in 2012. The paid attendance was 29,152, which made it the highest attended soccer match in Nevada history.
USA Sevens rugby
The stadium has hosted the USA Sevens rugby tournament every February since 2010. The USA Sevens is the largest rugby tournament in North America, drawing over 64,000 fans in 2012. The tournament brings together 16 national teams from all six continents in rugby sevens as part of the World Rugby Sevens Series. The USA Sevens debuted in 2004 in Los Angeles and moved to San Diego in 2007. A temporary grass pitch was installed for the event each year through 2015. The March 2016 event was played on the artificial surface.
Other sports events
The stadium hosted the Las Vegas Posse of the Canadian Football League in 1994, the Las Vegas Outlaws of the XFL in 2001 and the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League from 2009 to 2011. On November 27, 2009, the Locomotives played the Florida Tuskers in the 2009 UFL Championship Game at Boyd, which the Locos won 20-17 in overtime.
Sam Boyd Stadium is set to house the Clark County High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame, including a 22 feet by 12 feet wall wrap with vintage photos of the inductees that will be displayed in the Southwest concourse of the stadium.
Since 1990, the final round of the AMA Supercross Championship has been held at the venue, currently in early May. Most of the track is located inside the stadium with extensions taken into the area behind the score board. This event also includes the Davey Coombs Sr. East/West Shootout which was first won by Kevin Windham in 1997.
Since 2000, the stadium has been home to the Monster Jam World Finals which will be going into its 19th year of competition on March 23–24, 2018.
The stadium and grounds hosted the two-day Vegoose music festival from 2005 to 2007.