There’s a chance the Oakland Raiders might temporarily become the Oakland Raiders of San Francisco — not in name, but in practicality.
On Friday — after CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora first mentioned it as a possibility earlier this week — Raj Mathai of NBC Bay Area reported that there is “a distinct possibility” the Raiders will be playing next season at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. That report was corroborated by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Al Saracevic and John Shea, who reported that the Raiders are in “preliminary discussions.” According to the Chronicle, a deal isn’t expected to be finalized until January.
Shortly after, the Giants confirmed in a statement to the Bay Area News Group’s Kerry Crowley that the arrangement is being explored and that they are “open to the concept.”
“There has been initial interest expressed in exploring the opportunity of the Raiders playing at AT&T Park … many details would need to be figured out,” the Giants said. “The Giants want to do what’s best for Bay Area fans and would be open to the concept just as we hosted Cal Football in 2011 when Memorial Stadium in Berkeley was being renovated.”
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For the Raiders, playing across the Bay would have its advantages. They could remain at their team headquarters in Alameda and their fanbase could travel to home games with relative ease. It’s only a BART ride and a 15-20 minute walk along along the water or a short MUNI ride away. As someone who attended those Cal games at AT&T in 2011, I can say the viewing experience wasn’t fantastic. It felt and looked awkward. But the Raiders are used to playing football in a baseball stadium already, so it wouldn’t be a significant adjustment. And AT&T Park remains one of the most beautiful venues in all of sports if you can snag a seat overlooking the water.
While the San Francisco 49ers no longer call San Francisco home — Levi’s Stadium is in Santa Clara — they could still factor into ongoing discussions, as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported.
The Raiders are in this mess where they’re without a home for the 2019 season because they initiated a move to Las Vegas, which should happen in 2020 when their new stadium is ready, and the city of Oakland responded by filing a lawsuit against the city and league for what it called an “illegal move.” As a result, the Raiders returning for a final season at the Coliseum in Oakland appears to be an unlikely option. Their lease expires after the season.
Other possibilities have been floated, from San Diego to Santa Clara. But it’s difficult to argue with the logistics of playing across the Bay in San Francisco. Right now, there aren’t any good options for the Raiders. This is probably their best bad option out of the bunch.
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