NBC 7's Derek Togerson looks at a possible NFL game relocation in this commentary
The Raiders and Chargers might have to move Sunday’s game from the Oakland Coliseum due to the wildfires in Northern California. This week the Raiders have had to alter their practice schedule and players were wearing respirators (the masks used by painters) because the air quality is so poor.
Although the franchise has not made an official statement on the possible relocation of the scheduled 1:25 p.m. start there is talk that if the air does not improve the game will relocate. This, of course, sparked all kinds of speculation on social media and sports talk radio about where the game would go and San Diego is at the forefront of the rumor mill.
Assuming they have to leave the Bay Area completely (Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara would be available since the 49ers are in Washington to play the Redskins and both Cal and Stanford are big enough to accommodate the game) let’s take a look at the possible game destinations and the pros and cons of each one.
Mackay Stadium at University of Nevada-Reno (Capacity 30,000)
- Close to Oakland so fans could make the drive without being impacted too much.
- Tourist destination that should have enough available hotel rooms.
- Far too small for an NFL game makes it a non-starter.
Bulldog Stadium at Fresno State (Capacity 41,301)
- Again, drivable for Bay Area fans.
- Just big enough to handle the crowd that would likely make the trip.
- Quarterback Derek Carr went there so talk about a home-field advantage (if he’s healthy enough to play).
- Fresno is not exactly an NFL hotbed and the league has no intention of catering to the market.
- Where is everyone going to stay?
- You have to go to Fresno.
Sam Boyd Stadium at UNLV (Capacity 35,500)
- It’s going to be the Raiders new home in a few years so it makes sense to do a test run.
- Close enough to make the trip doable for fans.
- Plenty of available hotel rooms.
- City that is familiar with hosting big events.
- Could be a charitable possibility, raising money for both victims of the Las Vegas shooting and the people impacted by the wildfires. If the NFL plays it right, that would bring them some much-needed GOOD press.
- Tiny stadium is likely not going to be able to handle the crowd.
SDCCU Stadium in San Diego (Capacity 68,000)
- It’s an Oakland home game so the Raiders would be the home team and the Chargers would be the road team, meaning the irony factor is so rich and thick you could glaze donuts with it so this game will get HUGE ratings (And yes the NFL is watching those carefully).
- Stands will be packed with mostly silver and black, showing San Diego is a good football city as long as we don’t have to deal with anyone named Spanos.
- The Raiders will likely need a home for the 2019 season when their lease is up in Oakland and the Las Vegas stadium is still under construction to doing a dry run with them playing their home games in San Diego would be interesting.
- The City would be up to helping another team that needs it just like Phoenix/Tempe did for the Chargers in 2003 when a game was moved to Sun Devil Stadium due to fires.
- Plenty of hotel rooms and practice areas.
- It would make Dean SQUIRM.
- The NFL knows it would just shine another light on how badly Deano messed up in America’s Finest City and they’re not ready to call the team’s relocation to Los Angeles the galactic failure that it is.
- Cost. San Diego State plays a 7:30 p.m. game on Saturday night, meaning the City would have to pay for the grounds crew to work overnight getting the playing surface ready and pay to have it staffed (although the NFL will likely help with that).
- This is a bit of a stretch but we’re talking about a Raiders vs. Chargers crowd thrown together on short notice. Emotions and fights are a given and that could be ugly. The NFL would have to handle the cost of the extra Police presence.
Los Angeles Coliseum (Capacity Everyone You Have Ever Met)
- It’s big enough.
- Plenty of hotel rooms.
- It’s open and available.
- Fans can get there.
- The Raiders used to play there.
- The Raiders used to play there.
- There is a prevailing belief that the most popular team in L.A. is still the Raiders. With the Rams struggling to fill the Coliseum and the Chargers struggling to fill the Mater Dei High School stadium the optics would look REALLY bad for the league if 90,000 Raiders fans showed up, which is a distinct possibility. It would be a giant proof positive laid bare on national TV that they made a mistake on who they allowed to move to the nation’s 2nd-largest media market.
- On second thought, move that last one up to the Pros section.
Of course this is all speculation and there is a good chance the game gets to stay in Oakland. If it does move a decision would have to be made before the Chargers board a plane to the Bay Area on Saturday.