The Raiders will finish this season in Oakland and hope to inaugurate their new Las Vegas stadium in 2020. As for the year in between . . . it’s complicated.
On Wednesday, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas — home to UNLV’s football team — “is not considered a contingency site for home games in 2019,” rebutting a San Francisco Chronicle story from earlier in the day that said the college stadium seemed likely to host the Raiders if they couldn’t find a 2019 home in the Bay Area.
Here’s the problem: The Bay Area isn’t looking all that promising, either, despite the team’s long-professed hope to play its 2019 home games in Oakland. Again, it’s complicated. The Raiders' lease with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority expires after this year, Gehlken writes, but the group’s executive director, Scott McKibben, told the Chronicle that “the Raiders had agreed in writing to terms of a deal to play at the Coliseum next season and possibly in 2020-21 if their new Las Vegas stadium wasn’t ready.”
However, McKibben added that a clause in that agreement allows the Raiders to break that pact for 2019 if local officials file an antitrust lawsuit against the team and the NFL over the Raiders' move to Las Vegas. Last month, Oakland City Council member Noel Gallo said the city planned to do exactly that, though such a lawsuit has yet to materialize. The Chronicle predicted that it’s going to happen eventually, however.
But the Raiders aren’t necessarily holding a great hand here, either, because there aren’t a whole lot of great options in the Bay Area for 2019:
Levi’s Stadium: Relations between the front offices of the Raiders and San Francisco 49ers, the stadium’s current tenant, “have never been overly friendly,” the Chronicle notes. So the Raiders moving into the 49ers' stadium in Santa Clara for a year seems doubtful.
San Jose State’s Spartan Stadium: Seats only 30,456, which hardly is ideal for an NFL franchise (although the Los Angeles Chargers currently play in a stadium of similar size).
California Memorial Stadium: A UC Berkeley representative told the Chronicle that the school is unlikely to host the Raiders because of logistical challenges, such as a lack of parking.
Stanford Stadium: School officials said they have had no contact with the Raiders.
AT&T Park: The baseball-centric home of the San Francisco Giants has hosted numerous football games, even the full home slate for Cal in 2011. The August-October overlap between the MLB and NFL seasons may still be a dealbreaker, though.
So if Oakland is off the table, and most of the rest of the Bay Area is probably off the table, and Las Vegas is off the table, where does that leave the Raiders in 2019? Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio posited a few guesses Thursday morning, such as San Diego (which at the moment has an NFL stadium sitting mostly empty), San Antonio (which has expressed interest in hosting the team, Florio notes) and Los Angeles (which now has two NFL franchises and probably doesn’t need a third).
“It’s in our minds, but it’s really in the back of our minds right now,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said in late August. “We’re really concerned about 2018. Obviously, 2019 won’t be in Las Vegas, but it may have to be somewhere.”