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Notre Dame Football: Schedule A 2020 Game in the Raiders’ Las Vegas Stadium

It makes perfect sense — and I’ll give you three reasons why.

NFL: Oakland Raiders-Las Vegas Relocation Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the NFL owners have approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, Jack Swarbrick should find a number for Mark Davis immediately.

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish need to play the BYU Cougars in the Raiders’ new stadium on Halloween in 2020.

Here are three good reasons why:

THE COUGARS ARE OWED

The Irish signed an agreement with BYU for a “two-for-one” series. The Cougars played at Notre Dame Stadium in 2012 and 2013, but the Irish have failed to come out to Provo as promised.

Notre Dame will owe an unspecified “big payday” to BYU if the private universities fail to meet up with each other. Moving the game to Las Vegas — with BYU’s consent, of course — would honor the agreement while also possibly enriching both schools.

In 2014, the MetLife Stadium Company reportedly paid $4.7 million each to Notre Dame and the Syracuse Orange to play in East Rutherford, N.J. The cost for the entire athletic department at Syracuse — all the sports, not just football — was $67 million that year. That payout covered 7 12 percent of expenses that year. That’s significant.

The Oakland Raiders and Clark County will jointly own the 65,000 seat stadium, along with possible additional investors. It would take a collaboration with these partners, as well as the NFL schedule maker, to keep Halloween open that year. Another complication? The UNLV Rebels are also supposed to occupy that stadium. Will they be on the road that week? Could they play in 35,000 seat Sam Boyd Stadium instead?

The Irish set LaVell Edwards Stadium’s attendance record — 66,247 — when they visited Provo in 1993. It wouldn’t make sense to move the game out of Utah without the panache of christening Vegas’ first NFL stadium.

RELIGIOUS CROSSROADS

In Las Vegas, 36 percent of inhabitants identify as religious. The top two affiliations in the so-called Sin City? The Catholic church (19 percent) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (6.57 percent). In fact, Las Vegas’ LDS concentration is three times the national average.

Swarbrick, Notre Dame’s athletic director, has expressed certainty the university will resume its offsite Shamrock Series game in either 2018 or 2019. Since its inception, the Shamrock Series has always included a service component.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that more than 13 percent of Las Vegas residents live in poverty. There’s an interfaith network of churches and temples that have made social services a priority, and Notre Dame students and alumni could definitely tap into that.

RECRUITING ADVANTAGES

Notre Dame has never played in The Silver State. They’ve played the Nevada Wolf Pack twice, but both times at Notre Dame Stadium. They’ve never played UNLV.

Yet Nevada — and more specifically, Las Vegas — sports one school that Notre Dame would love to deepen its connection with.

The Irish extended offers to five players at Bishop Gorman High School between this year’s class and the class of 2013: WR Cordell Broadus (Snoop Dogg’s son), S Nicco Fertitta, DT Haskell Garrett, TE Alize Jones and WR Tyjon Lindsey. All, except Fertitta, were four-star talents. In addition, Notre Dame also extended an offer to four-star defensive tackle Greg Rogers, who played at Arbor View in Las Vegas.

The Irish nabbed Jones and Fertitta — after landing Bishop Gorman product Ronnie Stanley in 2012 — while Broadus and Rogers went to UCLA. Lindsey ended up in Nebraska and Garrett went to Ohio State.

You can’t help but wonder if four-star defensive end Elijah Wade (Arbor View, ’18) would be more interested in attending Notre Dame if he knew he’d be playing in front of his hometown fans in three years.

WHY HALLOWEEN?

It just makes sense. The Irish and the Cougars have just two mutual open dates in 2020: Oct. 31 and Nov. 21.

Notre Dame will play the USC Trojans in the Los Angeles Coliseum on Nov. 28. Logistically, I cannot see the Irish flying into Las Vegas for a game one week prior, flying back to South Bend and then flying to Los Angeles.

The Cougars have two homes games the weekend following Halloween, so that would work for their schedule as well.

Notre Dame’s road schedule in 2020, including USC, is manageable: They open the season in New Jersey against the Navy Midshipmen, play two weeks later in West Lafayette against the Purdue Boilermakers. They’ll play Georgia Tech Nov. 14 at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. There’s also an unscheduled game at the Pittsburgh Panthers that will eventually be added.

POLL

Poll

Should the Irish play in Las Vegas in 2020?

This poll is closed

  • 87%
    Yes, against the BYU Cougars.
    (1044 votes)
  • 7%
    Yes, but against someone else.
    (88 votes)
  • 4%
    No
    (59 votes)
1191 votes total Vote Now