The City of Oakland has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL in search of millions in debt relief from remodeling the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, additional damages and possibly the team’s name and branding elements over their decision to leave for Las Vegas.
The action could spell death for the team’s tenure at the 52-year-old stadium. The Silver and Black’s lease with the aging venue expires at season’s end, and the team obviously is uneasy about finalizing a lease for the 2019 season with a public entity that is suing them.
The Raiders have explored contingency plans in case a long-threatened lawsuit was levied. They don’t have great alternatives if they eliminate the Coliseum as an option for next season, the final year before a new Las Vegas stadium is scheduled to open in 2020.
Here are some possibilities, and whether they’re realistic or not:
Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas)
Let’s get this out of the way first: UNLV’s home field is not an option. It would take major renovations to make the venue viable, and it makes zero sense to pour money into a stadium that even the Rebels football team will abandon after next season. Also, the Raiders don’t want to crawl into the Las Vegas market and wait for their new stadium’s big splash.
All of those reasons virtually eliminate Sam Boyd Stadium as a viable option, and it’s the only venue in the state of Nevada that could be considered an prospect.
Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)
Raiders owner Mark Davis doesn’t like Levi’s Stadium one bit, and he wouldn’t be thrilled to play there for even one season. The 49ers might love some extra dates but not the extra wear on their home turf.
But ... Levi’s Stadium was built to house two NFL teams. The 49ers easily could accommodate -- or tolerate -- an extra tenant. The Raiders easily could move in there for a year, and stay in their home market. It also might be the league’s preferred option if the Coliseum is out, because it doesn’t mess with any markets already claimed by other teams.
The league certainly could nudge the Raiders and 49ers into a pact for one season. Keep an eye on Levi’s as an option as we trudge ahead.
Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego)
San Diego just lost a team, and is still reeling over the Chargers relocating north to Carson. That market, which housed the Bolts for 56 years, can be a football-friendly market with a large Raiders fan base residing there, and throughout Southern California.
It also has an aging, yet NFL-ready stadium that's collecting dust on Sundays. One problem: The Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams both are marketing heavily in San Diego. Those teams might not appreciate the most popular team in SoCal invading their turf, even on the southern fringe.
However, it would be a short flight for the Raiders to play home games while continuing to practice in Alameda, so San Diego could be a prospect over several others on this list.
Alamodome (San Antonio)
The Raiders flirted with San Antonio before moving relocation prospects to L.A., and then to Las Vegas. The facility also is NFL-ready, but it’s a great distance from California for home games.
It’s also difficult to imagine the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans, two heavyweight franchises within the league, allowing another team to enter the Lone Star State.
Cal Memorial Stadium/Stanford Stadium
Both NCAA venues could host NFL games, but there are issues aplenty with on-campus stadiums at Cal and Stanford, respectively.
Stanford doesn’t want or need the extra dates. Parking around Cal is a nightmare, and there’s no tailgating. Neither stadium is a realistic option.
Raiders as a traveling band
Coach Jon Gruden would hate it, but the Raiders could play more than half their games on the road, even if they call a new venue home. They have given up a home game to play abroad in four of the past five years, and they could give up another to an international city.
The Raiders could, conceivably, establish a short residence in London to avoid extra travel while playing through their last season before heading to Las Vegas.