Earlier today, the NFL sent out a press release notifying members of the media that the October 6 San Diego Chargers versus Oakland Raiders game would be postponed by seven hours and begin at 11:35 p.m. ET. Other than the obvious–that this move may make this week five match-up the latest game in NFL history–other implications possibly arise from this move by the NFL.
As the press release continued, the reason for the game delay was made known. The NFL wrote, “The move was made in response to today’s announcement by Major League Baseball of its ALDS schedule which has the Oakland A’s hosting a game on Saturday, October 5 at 6:07 PM (PT). The Raiders share the O.co Coliseum with the A’s and the Coliseum requires time to convert back into a football stadium in order to host the game.”
What the NFL didn’t note in its release, is that the Raiders and the A’s are the only NFL and MLB teams respectively that share the same coliseum on a full-time basis. What the release also didn’t note is the looming issue facing Oakland: That one or both of its franchises may be hitting the road for new homes.
The Raiders’ current lease agreement is set to expire after the 2013 season. To date, the Raiders have not announced where they will play beginning in 2014. However, reports indicate that the team has expressed interest in building a new stadium on the current stadium’s site. While this proposal is attractive to the city of Oakland, as it keeps the Raiders in town, it is problematic, as construction of a new coliseum could push the A’s out.
Like the Raiders, the A’s are in the last year of their lease with the coliseum. It is no secret that the A’s wish to leave Oakland and relocate to San Jose. However, territorial rights that the team previously ceded to the San Francisco Giants have prevented MLB from approving this move. This, in turn, has resulted in litigation against MLB from parties including the city of San Jose. Needless to say, from a legal and team perspective alike, the A’s way to San Jose is not clearly paved.
It is perhaps of no surprise that the Raiders desire to build a new stadium. Originally opened in 1966 and most recently renovated over a decade ago in 1996, the Raiders and A’s have both recently raised concerns over the current state of the Oakland Coliseum. The concerns were punctuated this season by sewage overflows the stadium’s visitor dugout and coaches’ bathroom. Perhaps, though, the current state of the stadium was best described by current MLB commissioner, Bud Selig, when he referred to it as “a pit.”
The surprise, though, arguably lies in the Raiders’ willingness to rebuild on the current coliseum’s location. In making the desire to move to San Jose known, the A’s have continuously lamented over the fact that the Oakland Coliseum is not surrounded by a vibrant downtown community. The argument, from the A’s perspective, is that if the team played in a stadium surrounded by a downtown, ticket sales would increase, as fans would be more easily able to pop into the ballpark.
That argument aside, with the Giants’ territorial rights holding up a move to San Jose, reports indicate that the A’s have begun negotiating a new lease agreement with the Oakland Coliseum. While some may see this move as the A’s waiving the white flag and succumbing to life in Oakland, the Raiders may slowly riding in as the A’s knight in shining armor. The shield that the Raiders hold in this case, is that team’s desire to build a new facility on the current coliseum site.
The A’s have made it clear that they have no desire to rebuild or build a new stadium on the current coliseum site. Thus, if the Raiders’ new stadium plan is approved the possibility exists that the A’s will be left without a place to play when construction is ongoing. Thus, if this situation arises, might MLB be more inclined to allow the team to move to San Jose?
Who knew that the postponement of an NFL game could be the first move in a potential chain of events that may pave the way for an A’s move to San Jose?