Raiders

Futuristic, transforming stadiums offer intriguing solution in Oakland

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AS Roma stadium rendering

Futuristic, transforming stadiums offer intriguing solution in Oakland

New Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval knew that fans would be floating ideas past him at the first open session at his new Coliseum office. Indeed, Ibbi Almufti proposed that Kaval should explore building a floating stadium for the A’s in San Francisco Bay. 

Hotel kingpin Barron Hilton 52 years ago proposed a floating San Diego Stadium for the Padres. In 1963 the lure of the seas hit Seattle with a plan that never left port, proposing a seaworthy stadium for football and baseball.

If you think this is fiction, renowned architectural firm Gensler has proposed "Project Poseidon," a temporary floating home away from home on the River Thames for the Palace of Westminster while the original House of Parliament is refurbished. After all, it’s been around since 1835 and could use a facelift.

When the Giants were struggling to find a post-Candlestick home, several proposals had them on a barge ballpark sailing around the bay. Talk about "splash hits."

I’m no naval engineer, but the closest structure to a floating stadium in Northern California is actually the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, which is 21 feet below sea level and has a sizeable aquifer underneath the playing field. 

The A’s are said to be looking seriously at Howard Terminal. Before they swim up that stream, though, they should spend time with Warriors and the 87 government agencies that would be involved in approving a new Howard Terminal ballpark.

The Raiders and A’s have been out to sea for years trying to develop new single-use stadiums. The Raiders face a $1.2 billion stadium valuation based on the recent deal between the Ronnie Lott-led group and the city. The A’s are still investigating ballpark sites. Oakland, Alameda County and the state will provide little or no hard cash investment for either team’s single use new home.

You can forget about a single-use stadium cruising the bay. But advances in architectural design, construction materials, modular manipulation, hydraulics, computer-driven infrastructure, robotics, LED technology, field composition and new funding mechanisms have created an opportunity to explore a brave new world of multi-purpose stadiums and arenas.

We are on the technological path to venues that can morph from one sport to another without compromising the fan experience. Think of the possibility of stadiums as sports and entertainment transformers.

ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia, allows for movement of the grandstand to allow for a change of playing field -- both shape and type. It can accommodate cricket, Aussie Rules Football, rugby, soccer, American football, and baseball. University of Phoenix Stadium has fields that move in and out of the stadium through a hydraulic system. The Giants and Jets are making piles of cash sharing Metlife Stadium. The Cowboys' AT&T Stadium, with the world’s largest HD video board, has changed the way that fans consume live sports.

A different take on the multi-purpose concept can be seen in the Saitama Super Arena in Japan and Arena 92, a stadium set to open in 2017 near Paris. Both venues are fully enclosed stadiums that can accommodate field and indoor court sports. Both the Super Arena and Arena 92 feature movable seating blocks that allow each facility to serve as an appropriately sized venue for either field or court sports.

Now is the perfect time to go back to the future and create the new multi-purpose stadium that is dictated in these challenging economic times. That opportunity exists on the current site of the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum.

Does anyone have Elon Musk or Stephen Hawking’s cell number?

Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'

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USATSI

Carr admits back injury had an impact: 'I had to deal with it'

Derek Carr was asked several times during the 2017 season whether a Week 4 back injury impacted his throwing motion, his play, his ability to produce. The Raiders quarterback dismissed the inquiries each time, proclaiming full health.

That wasn’t the whole truth. Three transverse process fractures in his back did affect him. Carr didn’t admit that. He didn’t want to use injury as an excuse. His play, Carr figured, should stand on its own.

Now, with the 2017 season in the rearview, Carr was a bit more candid about his physical state.

“When you break three bones in your back, it doesn’t feel good,” Carr said in this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast (Subscribe right here). “I’m thankful God healed me to the point I could walk around and be able to practice. Injuries will never be something I talk about, especially during the season, but since it’s after the season, the (back issue) was one of those things that was there.”

Denver’s Adam Gotsis kneed Carr in the back during a third-quarter sack. The fractures occurred there, and removed Carr from that 16-10 loss. The original prognosis had Carr out 2-4 weeks. He missed but one game and never stopped to rest. He missed a Wedneday practice, was limited the rest of the week and was questionable for a game backup EJ Manuel ultimately played.

Carr pushed to get back in the lineup. He didn’t miss another game, but that doesn’t mean the back injury was behind him.

“I had to deal with it,” Carr said. “I had to do certain things to manage it, but I just didn’t talk about it. I didn’t want it to be an excuse. It was a want more than anything else. I didn’t want it to be a reason. I couldn’t let that be a reason why I couldn’t do A, B or C.”

Carr’s back wasn’t the sole reason for lackluster offensive output, but it played a part. The Raiders dealt with flux in play calling and scheme preference, especially in the run game. On-field struggles splintered the locker room some, and an ironclad confidence began to soften.

Carr stands three-plus weeks from last season’s end. Distance provides perspective, and Carr wishes he could’ve done something to pull his Raiders out of a tailspin.

“I’ve looked back at the season over the past couple weeks and wondered if I could have done something or said something or acted upon something at a certain time,” Carr said. “You’re always looking to get better. …

“I’ve looked back (at) the way things were handled, things that went down and said, ‘Man. I wish I could’ve had the knowledge I have now. I would go back and fix that.’ That’s how things work. You gain experience from every situation you go through and try to be better the next time.”

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

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AP

Carr excited to work with Gruden: 'I want him to be tough on me'

Jon Gruden has been interviewed several times since becoming Raiders head coach. Quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t listened to most of those sessions, and certainly doesn’t seek them out.

One landed in Carr’s inbox recently, and something Gruden said really resonated.

Gruden’s message, paraphrased: If Derek Carr is not successful, then I’ve failed as a coach.

There are two comments in that one. Gruden considers Carr extremely talented, and he’s taking responsibility for unlocking the quarterback's vast potential.

Gruden will be hands on in Carr’s development, with all the coaching intensity and fire and eyebrow raises that have become Gruden’s signature.

“He’s going to demand of me. He’s going to push me,” Carr said on this week’s episode of the Raiders Insider Podcast, which will drop Tuesday morning (Subcribe right here). “He’s going to make me be the best version of myself.”

Carr had a direct answer to skeptics wondering aloud whether he can thrive under Gruden’s particular coaching style.

“I want him to be tough on me,” Carr said. “For anyone who thinks I want him to be a different way has no clue about me or how I play football or how I prepare to play this game. I don’t need to tell stories about how I prepare or manage myself.

“(Jon) and I are going to get along great. I hope that he demands of me. I hope he’s hard on me. I don’t need to know he loves me. He has already told me that about 20 times. I appreciate that and we’ll be friends forever, but I know he’ll be demanding and tell me what I need to do. Let’s go fix problems that I have and let’s do what I need to do to win championships. Hopefully that will give people some insight and hopefully that’s the story that gets out, because that’s the truth.”

Carr met his new head coach briefly before his introductory press conference, but has known Gruden since filming the Gruden QB Camp segment back in 2014. They got along great then, and in each interaction since.

“We have so much more in common that people realize,” Carr said. “I think it would blow some people’s minds. Him and I are very similar in the way we go about our business and how we carry ourselves. It’s an exciting time.”

Carr’s excited to have some stability in his football life. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback will start his fifth NFL season with his fourth head coach, fourth go-round with an offensive coordinator and third offensive scheme. Gruden signed a 10-year contract. OC Greg Olson signed a four-year pact. They’ll be here a while, and Carr’s excited about that.

“It’s going to be really nice,” Carr said. “To know Jon signed on for a 10 years and (Olson) signed on for a long time shows me a couple of things. No. 1: that they believe in me. I don’t think Coach Gruden would’ve quit his day job, which I’m thankful he did. To get (Olson) out of a good spot in L.A (with the Rams), shows that they believe in me and that’s awesome. And, No. 2: I’m going to have two people I can talk to in a different language for years to come. We can grow within the relationship, and hopefully we’ll all ride off together. It’s set up that way right now, and we have a lot of work to do to reach that point.”