Oakland Coliseum

Air quality concerns leave NFL considering alternate sites for Raiders game

Air quality concerns leave NFL considering alternate sites for Raiders game

ALAMEDA – Air quality around the Bay Area hasn’t been good.

Smoke and particulates emanating from the wildfires raging through Napa and Sonoma Counties has created what the Enviornmental Protection Agency considers “unhealthy’ conditions in several parts of the region south of the fire sites.

While these air-quality issues don’t in any way compare to fires affecting residents in the North Bay – at least 29 people have died, with hundreds more missing -- they could impact Sunday afternoon’s football game between the Raiders and Chargers at Oakland Coliseum.

The game game remains set to play as scheduled. For now, at least.

“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the NFL and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” the Raiders said in a statement. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”

The NFL echoed that sentiment earlier in the day, though they are exploring alternate sites.

The Raiders don't want to change the date or the site. They'd prefer to stay put, especially considering they've already lost a home game to Mexico City. They play the New England Patriots there in Week 9. 

Enviornmental factors, however, may force the Raiders hand. 

They have a few options, none of them ideal.

The 49ers are on the road this week, leaving Levi’s Stadium  open as an alternative. A league source NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that the NFL has reached out about the prospect of using the Santa Clara venue That would avoid travel stresses accompanied by leaving the market. The problem: that stadium is 33 miles south of Oakland Coliseum, and the air quality there hasn’t been much better than near the Raiders home field.

The Los Angeles Rams are on the road, leaving L.A. Coliseum available as well. San Diego mayor Kevin Falcouner offered to host the game at the venue formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium. The NFL might want to avoid putting the Raiders in their old haunts – the played at the L.A. Coliseum from 1982-94 – or bring the Chargers back to a still-angry San Diego market they left a few months ago.

The Raiders and Chargers can’t swap home games, as the StubHub! Center’s primary tenant, the L.A. Galaxy soccer team, as a game set for Sunday.

Moving the game date to a Monday night in Oakland is also complicating, considering the Raiders host Kansas City the following Thursday night.

The Seattle Seahawks are on a bye, and the game could be moved to CenturyLink Field in a pinch.

The EPA considered Oakland and Alameda air quality “unhealthy” on Wednesday and Thursday, recommending even healthy adults limit heavy exertion. Playing football outdoors would fall into that category, and caused the Raiders to pare their practice schedule on the aforementioned dates.

Michael Crabtree, Jalen Richard and receiver Isaac Whitney wore surgical masks during Thursday’s practice to prevent inhaling contaminants. The situation is not ideal for sport, at least not right now.

It’s difficult to forecast air quality, given unpredictable wind changes and fire patterns. The Raiders and the league should have to make a decision Friday to allow the Raiders and Chargers to change/create travel plans and for site plans to be finalized.

There is precedent for moving an NFL game late. A 2003 Chargers-Dolphins game was moved to Monday might in Arizona just 24 hours before kickoff due to wildfires in the San Diego region. Tickets in Arizona were free, with donations directed toward fire relief, and refunds were given to those who bought tickets for the game as originally scheduled.

A's players applaud ballpark announcement, but how many will get to play in it?

semien-as-stadium.jpg
AP

A's players applaud ballpark announcement, but how many will get to play in it?

BOSTON — The A’s announcement of a location to build their ballpark made Wednesday a potentially pivotal day in franchise history.

But with a five-year timeline, at minimum, before that stadium would open, the news wasn’t exactly the talk of the A’s clubhouse before Wednesday’s game against the Red Sox.

Shortstop Marcus Semien, a Bay Area native, expressed happiness for the A’s organization, their fans and the city of Oakland at the announced plan to build a venue near Lake Merritt, just down the street from Laney College.

But knowing how often the roster turns over, he wondered who on the A’s current team might still be wearing an Oakland uniform by the proposed grand opening, set for the start of the 2023 season.

“I don’t know when it’s gonna be finished, but hopefully some of us get to experience playing in it,” said the 26-year-old Semien, who is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. “Maybe some of the guys in the minor leagues might be able to. It depends on who’s here and who’s not. But either way, (it’d be great) if we can play in it — for the A’s or for someone else.”

Outfielder Matt Joyce shared the same sentiment, saying he was happy for fans but admitting it was tough to get too pumped about a plan that’s so far down the road.

The A’s built in that five-year cushion to complete an expansive to-do list.

They’re aiming to buy a 13-acre plot of land that currently houses the Peralta Community College District headquarters. Before the first shovel hits dirt in 2021 at that location, team president Dave Kaval anticipates taking one year to continue meeting with Peralta officials as well as local residents and business owners, many of whom have expressed skepticism about building a ballpark in the area.

Another two years is expected to acquire all the needed permits, complete the necessary environmental reviews and finalize ballpark design.

The upshot is the A’s are looking at another five years playing at the Coliseum. And given that, it’s worth taking into consideration what changes and improvements the A’s might aim to make to their current home. They’ve already made attempts this year to improve the fan experience at the Coliseum, adding food trucks and opening Shibe Park Tavern inside the stadium.

It’s a solid bet they gradually look to improve things from a team and player perspective. Earlier this season, Kaval told NBC Sports California that after the Raiders leave for Las Vegas, he has designs on possibly taking over the Raiders’ locker room space and making it the A’s new clubhouse.

Manager Bob Melvin would be a big fan of that idea.

“That would be great,” he said Wednesday. “Look, I’m a Raider fan, and I don’t want to see them go. But the fact of the matter is they are gonna go, and there is more space at our ballpark for us to be able to take advantage of, whether it’s training room space, whether it’s weight room type space, whether it’s expanding the clubhouse. Those would be important things for us, and we would have the ability to do that once the Raiders leave.”

The Raiders’ lease runs through the 2018 season, but owner Mark Davis has mentioned a desire to possibly play at the Coliseum in 2019 before his team’s Vegas stadium is ready in 2020.

Manfred willing to wait on new stadium for Oakland Athletics

Manfred willing to wait on new stadium for Oakland Athletics

MIAMI — Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to wait — to a point — for the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics to get new ballparks.

Tampa Bay and Oakland are the only two major league teams currently seeking new stadiums. The Rays have a lease through 2027 at Tropicana Field, which opened in 1990 and has hosted the Rays since the team started play in 1998.

The A’s have been at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum since moving there from Kansas City for the 1968 season. The park opened in 1966.

“We right or wrongly have been extraordinarily committed to our existing markets and patient with those markets as a result,” Manfred told the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday. “I continue to believe that Tampa is a viable major league market. I also believe it may be better than the alternatives that we have out there, and I am hopeful that we get to a resolution. As I’ve said to you before, however, there does come a point in time where we have to accept the reality that the market for whatever set of reasons can’t get to the point that they have a major league quality facility, and I am not going to indefinitely leave a club in a market without a major league quality facility.”

The Rays have been considering sites on both the St. Petersburg and Tampa sides of the bay.

“It really depends on progress, right?” Manfred said. “At the point in time that it starts to grind to a halt and nothing’s happening — I don’t think we’re there, OK — but at that point in time where everybody’s kind of, you get this look of where are we going next, that’s when you’ve got to start thinking about what your alternatives are.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last month the A’s are focusing on three locations. The paper said the team is strongly interested in a 13-acre site near downtown that currently is headquarters of the Peralta Community College District. The Chronicle also said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf favors Howard Terminal, north of Jack London Square, and the team is considering constructing a new ballpark at its current location, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

John Fisher was approved in November as the controlling owner of the Athletics.

“They’ve said they’re going to by the end of the year identify a site in Oakland that’s their preferred site,” Manfred said. “I think that given the change in the control situation in Oakland that it was prudent for Mr. Fisher to take a year and make a decision as to what site he thinks is the best. That decision is a uniquely local decision. I really don’t believe it is my job to have a preference for those sites. They know their market better.”

Manfred said at a Town Hall on Monday that MLB will delay any plans for expansion until after the A’s and Rays get new ballparks. He mentioned Montreal, Mexico City and Charlotte, North Carolina, as expansion candidates.