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?

McKenzie addresses contract situations for Mack, Cooper

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USATSI

McKenzie addresses contract situations for Mack, Cooper

ALAMEDA – The Raiders wrapped their second week of offseason workouts on Friday, with a mini-camp on the horizon. The three-day session is voluntary, but stands as the first time head coach Jon Gruden can run a Raiders practice during this offseason program.

Khalil Mack isn’t expected to show. The elite edge rusher has stayed away from the Raiders offseason program while his representation works out a long-term contract with the Silver and Black.

There’s no timetable to get it done, and a pact isn’t terribly close despite reports of positive negotiations and an understanding from both sides Mack isn’t going to be cheap.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t heard from Mack recently, which is not cause for concern.

“I have not,” McKenzie said in a Friday press conference. “We’ve just been focusing on the draft and the coaching staff and focusing on these players that are here and getting ready for the mini-camp next week.”

A deal is expected in time, and the Raiders have budgeted to pay Mack top dollar. He’s expected to set the market for defensive players, though Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, taken three picks later in the 2014 NFL draft, is also expecting a massive sum this offseason.

Mack might want Donald to sign first and then have his deal top it. Donald might want the same thing. It may behoove the teams to allow the other to set a market which could offer some savings.

McKenzie said he isn’t worried about what the Rams do with Donald.

“We look at Khalil as his own situation,” McKenzie said. “We’re not looking at anybody else. We’re just focusing on our guy.”

The Raiders will also be focused on Amari Cooper’s future with the club. The receiver’s entering the final year of his rookie contract, though the Raiders have a fifth-year team option available to keep Cooper through 2019.

McKenzie wouldn’t commit to exercising it Friday, though NFL teams must do so by May 3. That would increase Cooper’s salary to the average of the top 10 players at his position when the option is exercised. That would put him in line to make $13.9 million in 2019, though the sum is guaranteed for injury only but becomes fully guaranteed on the first day of the 2019 league year.

“Going into the draft now, that’s what we’re focused on, but we’ve been in contact with his agent,” McKenzie said. “I don’t want to put anything out there before…I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. But we like Amari.”

McKenzie on Aldon Smith

The Raiders cut ties with edge rusher Aldon Smith early last month, when he was involved in a domestic violence incident that has since resulted in criminal charges. Smith is now involved with an in-custody rehab program after violating conditions of his bail.

McKenzie lamented not seeing Smith turn things around and the inability to support him after he was banished from the league as a repeat offender of the NFL substance abuse policy.

“It’s hard,” McKenzie said. “Aldon really tried and we tried, but once you get into the program and you have to send him away, there’s only so much we can do as far as getting our hands on him. Pray for the best for Aldon.”

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

WEEK 1
Monday, Sept. 10 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m.

Jon Gruden goes head-to-head against protégé Sean McVay in primetime, in the season opener and on a Monday Night Football telecast Gruden was on for nine seasons. That's must-see TV. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 2
Sunday, Sept. 16, at Denver, 1:25 p.m.

The Broncos might be the AFC West’s worst team. The Raiders have to make hay a mile up, a chore made easier with an early-season game. They avoid snow this year. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 3
Sunday, Sept. 23, at Miami, 10:00 a.m.

The Raiders beat the Dolphins in Florida last year. It’s hard to say Miami’s much better than they were a year ago. This road win’s attainable, even in the first of four morning kickoffs.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 4
Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. Cleveland, 1:05 p.m.

The Browns should be better, but that remains a game you’ve got to win. Hue Jackson’s return to Oakland adds intrigue to these proceedings.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 5
Sunday, Oct. 7, at L.A. Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders will have a huge home-field advantage in Carson, as they do each time they play the Chargers in Southern California. That should help against a formidable opponent that has had trouble staying healthy in recent years.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 6
Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Seattle (at London’s Tottenham Stadium), 10:00 a.m.
The Raiders won’t make their combine their London trip with an East Coast game to make things easier from a travel perspective. Gruden doesn’t want to be away from home that long. How the Raiders handle a long flight to the United Kingdom will go a long way in determining a victor.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 7
BYE

WEEK 8
Sunday, Oct. 28, vs. Indianapolis, 1:05 p.m.

The Colts still stink, even if Andrew Luck is back healthy and throwing for this one. These are games (especially at home) the Raiders have to win.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 9
Thursday, Nov. 1, at 49ers, 5:20 p.m.
A Thursday night game offers plenty of time to get primed in the parking lot. It also guarantees a traffic mess heading into Levi’s Stadium. What could possibly go wrong? This should be a good matchup on the field, with two young quarterbacks leading the charge.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 10
Sunday, Nov. 11, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders have lost two of their last three home games to the Chargers. They have to handle business at home, even against a talented squad led by Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 11
Sunday, Nov. 18, at Arizona, 1:05 p.m.

The Cardinals are mired in a rebuilding mode, well behind the Raiders at this stage.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 12
Sunday, Nov. 25, at Baltimore, 10:00 a.m.

Michael Crabtree will be supremely motivated for this one, after the Raiders essentially exchanged him for Jordy Nelson. He’s pretty dangerous in those situations.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 13
Sunday, Dec. 2, vs. Kansas City, 1:05 p.m.

The Chiefs will be a great litmus test, to see if the Raiders can handle big-play threats better than they have in recent seasons.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 14
Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m.

The Raiders defense better be ready to go against Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the Steelers scoring machine in the Oakland Coliseum slate’s best matchup. To make matters better, this one's in primetime, on Sunday night. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 15
Sunday, Dec. 16, at Cincinnati, 10:00 a.m.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will go up against the team he helped run recently. Guenther should be an expert on stopping Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. That will help the Raiders here. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 16
Monday, Dec. 24, vs. Denver, 5:15 p.m.

Marquette King’s coming back to Oakland. He’s looking forward to this one. So is Bruce Irvin. All this plays out on Monday Night Football, the Raiders' fourth primetime game and third at Oakland Coliseum. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 17
Sunday, Dec. 30,at Kansas City, 10:00 a.m.

Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Raiders in recent seasons. Jack Del Rio could never figure how to play well there. Can Jon Gruden buck that trend?

Prediction: L.