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Oakland Raiders reportedly to play next season at Oracle Park

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Artist’s rendering of Oracle Park facade. (San Francisco Giants)

UPDATED at 1:29 p.m. with quotes from Supervisor Matt Haney.
UPDATED at 3:37 p.m. with quote from Giants spokesman

Just after the Super Bowl, news broke via Raj Mathai of NBC Bay Area that the Oakland Raiders will play next season at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.

Appropriately enough, the Raiders, who are bound for Las Vegas in 2020, would be entering into a one-year temporary residency in the City.

CBS Sports and NBC Sports Bay Area Raiders insider Scott Bair reported earlier in the week that the NFL had performed multiple visits to the China Basin stadium to perform a feasibility study in order to determine if the facility could host an NFL team for a full season.

Oracle Park — then known as AT&T Park — played host to the Cal Golden Bears for the 2011 season, during which five games were played on the field from mid-September to mid-November, as well as the Emerald Nuts/Kraft Fight Hunger/Foster Farms Bowl every December from 2002-13. The park was the home of the XFL’s San Francisco Demons, who played five games there in 2001, and the UFL’s California Redwoods, who played two games there in 2009. The park was also home to the East-West Shrine Gamefrom 2001 to 2005.

A Raiders residency would include potentially nine home dates at the park, which opened in 2000 as a baseball-only facility.

Asked for comment, a Giants spokesman said on Monday afternoon, “I’m told you need to check with the Raiders.” The Examiner reached out to the Raiders for comment on Sunday evening, but has not heard back.

The San Francisco 49ers — who play over 40 miles south at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara — and the NFL would have to sign off on the arrangement.

Article 4.2(A)(1) of the NFL’s bylaws states that teams in the same metro area have “exclusive right” to play in their cities, and that “neither the San Francisco nor the Oakland club shall have any right to play professional football in the city of the other without the consent of the other club.”

San Francisco city Supervisor Matt Haney — whose district includes Oracle Park — and Board of Supervisors members Hillary Ronen and Aaron Peskin told the Examiner’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez that they were against the Raiders playing in San Francisco, and would do what they could to stop it.

When contacted on Monday by the Examiner, Haney said that the Giants had contacted him and let him know that “there’s been no official deal, or any word from the Raiders or NFL.”

Given the logistical hurdles the move would have to clear — such as security and transportation concerns — it would seam the deal is far from done.

“There’s clearly a more big steps they’d need to take, including approval from the 49ers, the NFL, and working out some important issues with the City,” Haney told the Examiner.

After their founding in 1960, the Raiders played their home games at Kezar Stadium, and in 1961 they played at Candlestick Park, so they’ve played on the same field as the Giants before.

The Raiders’ homelessness came because of legal disputes with the City of Oakland. The club’s lease at the Oakland Coliseum ran out after the end of this season, and an offer by the team to extend their lease a year was retracted after the City of Oakland filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the team and the league.

The suit, which argues that the Raiders negotiated in bad faith before deciding to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, was filed in hopes of netting the city millions in damages, as well as to recoup the roughly $80 million of debt remaining on the Coliseum. That debt remains from when the city, as part of an agreement for the Raiders to move back from Los Angeles, built a seating structure in on the eastern side of the park, accommodating  an additional 20,000 spectators and adding two levels of luxury suites. The structure cost $500 million.

“I think the Raiders should play in Oakland next year, as previously planned,” Haney said. “That offer from the the Coliseum Authority still on the table. I’d say to the Raiders, take the offer from Oakland, keep your commitment, and play the 2019 season in Oakland.”

Because the Raiders’ facility in Las Vegas is not yet complete, the club has been looking around since the end of the season for a one-year home. Other venues that have been considered have been the Coliseum, the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara — a move that owner Mark Davis reportedly finds distasteful — and Oracle Park.

Should the Giants and Raiders come to an agreement to use the field, Haney would have something to say about it.
“If the Giants do decide to bring in the Raiders, I have a lot more questions, and clearly a lot of logistics we have to discuss,” he said. “None of those negotiations have even started yet, to my knowledge.”

Slated for a pair of preseason games, the Raiders also have home dates against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears (featuring former Raider and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack), Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

One of those games will be staged outside of the United States, according to an NFL announcement in December, so that means that the Raiders — who finished 4-12 this season, and are unlikely to make the playoffs in 2019 — would likely host nine dates at whatever park they wind up occupying. Given the NFL’s parity, a playoff game cannot be entirely ruled out, but it’s highly unlikely.

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