So, the Raiders need a place to play football in 2019?
With the city of Oakland suing the team and the entire NFL and the Raiders having pulled their one-year rent offer off the table to play at the Oakland Coliseum, there is speculation that a number of cities could wind up hosting Jon Gruden and Co. for a year.
San Diego. San Antonio. Santa Clara. Reno (Reno?). They’ve all been rumored to be a possible temporary home for the Silver and Black next season.
I don’t blame Mark Davis for not coming to Las Vegas a year early. His $1.8 billion Russell Road playpen should be the first entry into the next chapter of the Raiders. Sam Boyd Stadium simply won’t cut it.
And give Davis credit. He probably has learned from the past. When the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee en route to becoming the Titans, they played in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, then Vanderbilt’s stadium in Nashville while waiting for their new stadium to open in Music City.
That was a disaster for everyone — players, coaches, staff, fans, you name it.
So forcing your team on an unsuspected stadium that doesn’t have the wherewithal to host NFL football for an entire season wouldn’t be a smart move.
Then again, I’m not so sure forcing yourself into the Alamodome or Mackay Stadium is very smart either.
The right move, of course, is for the Raiders to stay in the Bay Area and play at Levi’s Stadium, home of the 49ers. It’s a place that was subsidized with money from the NFL and could handle two teams in the short-term. The Raiders can continue to practice in Alameda and the commute is a hell of a lot easier, the traffic on Interstate 880 be damned, than getting on planes for every game, which was the case in 1995 when they returned to Oakland but were still headquartered in Los Angeles.
But maybe the 49ers will keep the gates padlocked and not allow “The Black Hole” to set up shop in the end zone. If that’s going to be the case, it means the team will indeed be getting on planes the entire season.
Should that happen, then why not do something novel? Why not call eight different cities “home” for 2019? The Raiders can make believe they’re the Rolling Stones (or the Imagine Dragons) and act like it’s a rock tour instead of a football season.
The Raiders are scheduled to play an international game in 2019 in London or Mexico City. Why not both? There’s a quarter of your home schedule right there. Play a game in San Antonio, even if it means not playing on natural grass, something Davis reportedly wants to avoid.
Play a game in San Diego, but make sure it’s against the Chargers, just to spice things up a bit. Then travel up the freeway and play in Anaheim, the Rams’ one-time home. Or maybe the Rose Bowl would host a game. Or even wilder, how about the L.A. Coliseum, another of the Raiders’ former homes?
That’s five games. You need three more. I’m not sure Mackay Stadium in Reno fits any better for an NFL game than Sam Boyd does. But let’s assume you can get the league to go along with it on a one-shot basis. There’s three-quarters of your “home” schedule.
There has been some discussion of playing in Glendale, Ariz., home of the Cardinals. That could work. So could a game at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe when Arizona State isn’t home. The Cardinals had played there too. So with a game in Arizona, you’ve got seven home games. That leaves one game left.
The nostalgic romantic in me says play at Kezar Stadium, where the Raiders played their very first season in the American Football League back in 1960. But that’s not a viable option.
I’d say look at Frank Youell Field, where the Raiders played prior to the Oakland Coliseum opening in 1966. But it no longer exists.
Still, the last-ever Oakland Raiders game should be played somewhere in the Bay Area. AT&T Park in San Francisco would survive one Raiders game. So would Memorial Stadium in Berkeley (the Raiders actually once played there in 1973). Stanford? It may consider itself too hoity-toity for the Raiders.
The Raiders claim to have a world-wide fan base. Well, here’s an opportunity to show off that loyalty, not to mention racking up some serious frequent-flier miles.
Of course, the denizens of the Black Hole who undoubtedly would follow the team would have to check-in their spiked shoulder pads since I’m pretty sure the Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t allow them to go through screening with their gear and let them carry it on the plane.
I’m pretty sure “Chucky” Gruden has no use for this idea. When you think about it, he’s been there and done that during his years of working on Monday Night Football as an analyst.
Still, the Raiders have always been different, which is part of their, er, charm. Here’s another chance to prove it.