One of the big changes for the Raiders with Al Davis gone: They can now pursue a shared-stadium option with the 49ers in Santa Clara.
Amy Trask has been talking to the 49ers about that option for some time, but as long as Davis was alive, it wasn’t going to happen. Al Davis never wanted to share. He had a sweetheart deal going in Los Angeles for a new stadium, near the Hollywood Park race track, but wouldn’t agree because there was a provision that, if Los Angeles got an expansion team, he would have to share the stadium. There were no plans for that to happen in the immediate future and it hasn’t happened, but just the possibility was enough to make Davis decide to move the team back to Oakland.
Davis wanted a new stadium, but he wanted it in Oakland, in the same area as the current Coliseum. That wasn’t ever going to happen. Oakland doesn’t have the money. No city or county official would dare propose using public money to build a new football stadium. But if the Raiders leave, the Coliseum could be modified as a baseball-only park for the A’s.
Trask is a tough negotiator, but realistic. She knows the Santa Clara option is a good one and I’m sure she’ll pursue it energetically.
There are many good reasons for a joint stadium in Santa Clara, starting with the fact that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been pushing the idea of shared stadiums, especially in California, where it has long been
difficult-to-impossible to get substantial public money for a sports facility. The Giants decided that in the early ’90s and made plans to build their own baseball park — and baseball parks are relatively cheap compared to football stadiums.
There is even an excellent precedent for this: The New York Giants and New York Jets play in a shared stadium across the river from New York City in New Jersey. Not coincidentally, they haven’t dropped the New York name.
The 49ers could still call themselves the San Francisco 49ers (Santa Clara has agreed to that) and the Raiders could still be the Oakland Raiders.
Neither team would have to play in the other’s home city, but Santa Clara is, in effect, a neutral site.
The site is close to the majority of the fan base for both teams, located south of their current parks in each case. It would be easily accessible by car, Caltrain and — for 49ers fans from the north — by the Capitol Express train from Sacramento.
The change there won’t be as drastic as it might seem. Davis had put together a good scouting department that, though its members are anonymous, has been largely responsible for the good draft picks in rounds 3-7 the past few years. It won’t be that difficult to find a good football man to head up the operation.
The combined stadium is the crucial part of the equation because it would boost revenues and franchise value for both teams. It’s time to get serious about this.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.