The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) prepared to bid aloha to Sam Boyd Stadium in November with its annual matchup with Hawaii, a game affectionately known as “the Ninth Island Showdown.”
The game — won by Hawaii 21-7 — was sponsored by the California Hotel and Casino and was part of a season-long celebration by UNLV Athletics.
In 2020, UNLV’s football team will move into Allegiant Stadium, a state-of-the-art stadium located just south of the Las Vegas Strip. But on November 16, UNLV Athletics took a few moments to celebrate 35 years of history in Sam Boyd Stadium – and to recognize how Boyd Gaming became a part of the university’s largest sports venue.
In 1984, the field at the then-Silver Bowl was in poor shape, and UNLV’s football program was on the verge of forfeiting the season. But the season was saved when Boyd Gaming stepped up at the last minute, donating the funds needed to install a modern artificial turf field.
In gratitude, UNLV renamed the Silver Bowl to “Sam Boyd Stadium” – a name it kept for the next 35 years.
As the final season neared an end, UNLV wanted to say “thank you” one last time to Boyd Gaming and the Boyd family – and both sides couldn’t think of a better game than the annual showdown between UNLV and Hawaii, with thousands of Boyd Gaming customers packing the stands.
During the first quarter, four generations of Sam Boyd’s family were recognized from the field – and Executive Chairman Bill Boyd (Sam Boyd’s son) waved to the crowd from the Company’s suite.
“That was really a neat moment to have Bill Boyd and his family recognized in front of so many of our customers and fans,” said David Strow, Boyd Gaming’s Vice President of Corporate Communications.
Although Sam Boyd Stadium’s story is at an end, the Boyd Gaming name will remain front-and-center with Rebel Athletics. In 2018, Boyd Gaming made a new, $5 million pledge toward UNLV Athletics, the largest single corporate sponsorship in UNLV Athletics’ history. In recognition of the transformational gift, UNLV named its new basketball scoreboard the “Boyd Gaming Scoreboard,” ensuring new generations of Rebels fans will see the Boyd Gaming name during home games at Thomas & Mack Arena.
It is just the latest chapter in a decades-long story of friendship and support between Boyd Gaming and UNLV, Nevada’s largest institute of higher learning.
“We are proud to build upon our partnership with UNLV in such a profound way,” said the Company’s Executive Chairman, Bill Boyd. “This investment will carry Boyd Gaming’s legacy with UNLV Athletics forward to inspire the next generation of leaders across our great city and state. We believe in the vision of the leadership at UNLV Athletics, and are proud to know that Boyd Gaming will be closely tied to the Rebels’ emergence among the nation’s elite.”