ALAMEDA – The Raiders are set to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Oakland Coliseum. Expect it to remain that way.
The NFL explored alternative sites, including Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium, for that AFC West contest due to poor air quality emanating from active fires raging through Napa and Sonoma Counties.
They won’t use one. The Raiders wanted to keep that home game in Oakland and ultimately will do so. They’ve already lost a home date to Mexico City – they play New England there in Week 10 – and didn’t want to lose another.
The Raiders announced Friday at noon that kickoff is still scheduled for 1:25 p.m., though the team and the NFL will continue monitoring air quality conditions in the area.
“It looks like we’ll play here,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Should go off (as scheduled). I think Cal plays tonight, Stanford plays Saturday. I don’t know if they are canaries or not, but we’ll get an indication. I think we’re going to be fine.
“Obviously, it’s a serious situation, what’s going on up North. A lot of people have had their lives turned upside down. A lot of people lost their lives. It’s a tough deal, but the smoke part of it for us, we adjusted during the week, did the best we could with the situation. Now we’re prepared to go.”
The Raiders trimmed their practice schedule this week to limit exposure to the air, and some players wore masks during Thursday to decrease it further. The Environmental Protection Agency declared the air in Oakland and Alameda “unhealthy” during each practice session this week, and recommended healthy adults avoid heavy exertion while outdoors.
“We shrunk everything a little bit,” Del Rio said. “We got the body of work, the reps that we typically get. We got looks at them, we just didn’t do it in pads on Wednesday like we would have. The pacing was reduced a little, but we got the looks we needed to get.”
It’s virtually impossible to forecast air quality days in advance, especially with smoke from uncontained active fires. The Raiders will move forward with the game as scheduled. There is a possibility the game time could be moved, but the Oakland Coliseum will host the game.