With the City of Oakland filing its lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL today, speculation continues to run rampant the team will play its last game in Oakland on Christmas Eve. Where will the team play in 2019? Not in Nevada.
It makes all the sense in the world. The Raiders move to their future home of Las Vegas a year early after the City of Oakland sues the team and the NFL for relocating to Nevada.
The only problem: it’s not going to happen.
Reports are raising the possibility the Raiders could possibly move to Las Vegas and play in Sam Boyd Stadium (the dilapidated and embarrassing current home of UNLV football) until their new stadium is completed in July 2020. The only issue with these reports is the stadium isn’t viable and has been ruled out numerous times by the Raiders and the NFL.
“There’s no way in hell we’d ever play in that (Sam Boyd) stadium,” a team official told me back in September.
Why you ask? Numerous logistical challenges make it impossible including the lack of enough camera locations (for both NFL television broadcasts and for instant replay for NFL officials). The amount of money the Raiders (and/or the NFL) would have to spend to make improvements are cost prohibitive for a stadium that will be demolished once the new stadium is completed, per Senate Bill 1 – the Nevada State Legislature’s law that funded the construction of the stadium. Everything from locker rooms, medical facilities, and other infrastructure make it impossible.
What about Reno? That’s not even being considered either.
Despite being a quaint mid-major football stadium, Nevada-Reno’s Mackay Stadium lacks the same infrastructure needed to host an NFL game – let alone a season – as well. In fact, I sat in Mackay Stadium just last month as the Wolf Pack battered the Colorado State Rams on a frigid evening. While it feels more collegiate than Sam Boyd Stadium, it’s not anywhere near capable of hosting the NFL either.
The two other sites being mentioned include Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, and San Diego County Credit Union (formerly Qualcomm) Stadium – the former home of the now Los Angeles Chargers.
Sources with knowledge of both situations claim Mark Davis isn’t keen on Santa Clara and the NFL doesn’t want the Raiders in San Diego as it may make them and Chargers owner look bad. The NFL and Chargers ownership argued San Diego was no longer viable in that stadium so what happens if the Raiders play there and sellout each game? That wouldn’t go over well within the league. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen in one of the two spots, but it’s nuances to consider.
As we mentioned on our CBS Sports Radio show over the past few months, Phoenix could be an option but I’d imagine you’d have to sweeten the pot for the Cardinals to even consider. We also mentioned darkhorse Utah – yes Utah. Provo, Utah, home of Brigham Young University, could most likely be an option with Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake at the University of Utah also something to consider. But I don’t think either one has much of a chance.
That means no one really knows where the Raiders will call “home” in 2019. Perhaps a few games in London, Mexico City and perhaps another locale. I have been told on numerous occasions the Raiders and the league has been planning for contingencies for a while. There won’t be any resolution for a while so patience will be a necessity.
If the Raiders time in Oakland is indeed over, don’t book travel to Nevada with the plans of seeing the team playing in the Battle Born state until August 2020.