For the first time, I believe there’s a real possibility the Raiders and 49ers will work together for a shared stadium in Santa Clara.
Why? Because Amy Trask is fully involved for the Raiders and reportedly having frequent talks with the 49ers stadium task force. Nobody ever accused the Raiders’ CEO of being loveable, but she’s very intelligent and hard working, and she keeps her eyes on the main goal.
She is the one person in the Raiders organization who has owner Al Davis’ complete trust, but unlike Davis, she understands the meaning of cooperation. Davis scuttled what would have been a sweet deal in Los Angeles because he didn’t want to share a stadium. Trask won’t make that mistake.
The stadium makes sense for both teams. The 49ers have a good plan, but I’ve always thought their plans for raising money to pay for it are woefully optimistic. Having another team to share costs makes it affordable.
The Raiders need a new stadium; the Oakland Coliseum was built in 1966 and remodeled for them in 1993, but it has long been surpassed by newer stadiums, both in fan comfort and revenue sources.
Oakland and Alameda County will never build another stadium for the Raiders. Even before the bottom dropped out of the economy, there was much unhappiness because the deal to bring them back has cost the city and county money, despite the promises of politicians. And the Raiders’ image is not a positive one for Oakland.
The bulk of the Raiders’ fan base has always been south of the Coliseum, so it would be no hardship for those fans to drive to Santa Clara.
It’s the same for the 49ers. The Niners have not been a San Francisco team for a long time, as many of their longtime fans have moved down the Peninsula. Driving south instead of north will be no hardship, and the few fans who live in San Francisco can take Caltrain to the games.
And the truth is, the 49ers have no more of a San Francisco option for a new stadium than the Raiders have in Oakland, despite the posturing of Mayor Gavin Newsom.
The spot that has been mentioned for a new San Francisco stadium is the area once used by the Navy. Nobody even knows how much it will cost to remove the toxic waste there, but it will certainly be many millions. Access roads would also have to be built from the freeway.
Do you think San Francisco is going to pay those costs? In fact, one of the primary reasons the 49ers chose the Santa Clara site was that the infrastructure was already in place, with highways, trains and local street cars.
It’s important for cities to build baseball parks within their boundaries because baseball brings in considerable business, with 81 home games and fans who often frequent restaurants, shops and hotels near the park.
But football has only 10 home games, counting exhibitions. Most fans tailgate and make a full day of it at the stadium.
A shared stadium is a win/win situation for the 49ers and Raiders, and their fans. Let’s hope it gets done as soon as possible.