The Oakland Raiders appear set to leave that city early thanks to a lawsuit from the city of Oakland alleging antitrust and breach of contract violations, and there’s been lots of discussion about where they could land for 2019 ahead of a full move to Las Vegas in 2020. But the team managed to surprise many with a possible destination Friday, with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area passing on a statement from the San Francisco Giants Friday on the reports that the Raiders might be headed to the Giants’ home, AT&T Park:
“There has been initial interest expressed in exploring the opportunity of the Raiders playing at AT&T Park,” the Giants said in a statement to NBC Sports Bay Area. “Many details would need to be figured out. The Giants want to do what’s best for Bay Area fans and would be open to the concept just as we hosted Cal Football in 2011 when Memorial Stadium in Berkeley was being renovated.”
As Bair notes, this could perhaps be done without a massive impact on the Giants’ schedule. The Raiders have often opted (in three of the past five seasons) to play three of their first four games on the road to avoid issues with the baseball field at the Oakland Coliseum (which they share with the A’s), and if that practice continues, that could lead to the Raiders playing a home game in Week 3 (when the Giants are on the road in Atlanta) without too much difficulty. That would mean there aren’t too many Giants’ home games to consider afterwards. Of course, there are preseason games to worry about, but the Raiders could conceivably sell those to other markets. And yes, the Giants could make the playoffs, but that’s far from a sure thing given their 73-89 record in 2018.
However, there are still a lot of hurdles to clear. AT&T Park is within the San Francisco 49ers’ territory, and while they currently play quite a ways south in Santa Clara, they’d have to approve the Raiders’ bid to play there. (And that might be far from a sure thing given those teams’ history.) Also, the Giants might not be all that thrilled with the idea of a regular NFL presence at their stadium and what that might mean for their playing surface. And while the area around AT&T Park is excellent for Giants’ games, it’s not necessarily ideal for Raiders’ games; there are some nearby parking lots, but not a ton, and it might not be an ideal fit for Raiders’ fans.
We’ll see what, if anything, comes of this in the long term. There are a lot of talks ahead, and there’s certainly a good possibility the Giants and Raiders won’t be able to come to a deal here. But it’s definitely interesting that AT&T Park is now being mentioned as a potential Raiders’ home in 2019. That’s probably not ideal for Giants’ fans, but while it poses some issues for Raiders’ fans, it might be better than some of the other alternatives that have been floated; it’s not that far from Oakland, it can handle a lot of people, and they’d likely have a reasonable home-field advantage there. There are plenty of hurdles still to clear, including the 49ers’ approval, but it’s interesting that this has been added to the list of possible solutions.