People are going to hate me for writing this. Niners fans hate the Raiders and vice versa. Actually, the fans want you to think they hate each other- they actually don’t. In reality, the two fan bases like talking smack to one another every four years when the teams play. There’s a long historical rivalry here which doesn’t make a lot of sense anymore. San Francisco fans and Los Angeles fans hate each other on principle, and the Raiders used to play in Los Angeles.
There’s also the cross town rivalry at play here, with Oakland always trying to compete with San Francisco. However, there should be some compromises made between the two teams. As an objective Bay Area native who doesn’t particularly care about the Niners or the Raiders, I’m going to go ahead and and make my case: the Niners and the Raiders need to share a stadium.
Candlestick is old… like really, really old
It’s no secret that both teams need want new stadiums. Things get bigger and bigger in the NFL and teams have to compete with each other. Currently, Candlestick Park is one of the worst stadiums in the league. Sure there are some great things about it. I’ve never been to an arena with as many quality seats. I’ve watched a Monday night game from the upper bowl, and it was one of the best live sporting events I’ve ever attended. It’s also rich in history- you can feel the timeline and tradition of the Niners (and the Giants to a lesser extent) just by stepping in. But, at this point, the minuses for the team (not necessarily the fans) far outweigh the plusses.
For one, Candlestick is really old. The stadium was built in 1960… for the Giants. Yes the Giants. It’s astonishing to me that the Niners, historically one of the best franchises in the league, never built their own stadium. They were guests in their own home until the Giants moved out in 2000. It also has terrible facilities. When I go to a Giants game, it’s fun to go early and walk the concourse, buy different types of food, and look at the city from the upper levels. When I go to a Niners game, I get to my seat as soon as possible and try not to move too much because the stadium was built in the windiest part of the city and I feel like I’m going to freeze. It doesn’t have the luxury boxes and corporate friendly seats that other teams do, which is great for fans, but makes it hard for the team to compete money wise with other teams with new stadiums. It’s also in the middle of nowhere. There is currently no public transportation to get to the stadium and nowhere nearby to hang out- no sports bars, shopping centers, restaurants etc. The situation is so bad that voters approved two separate times to rebuild Candlestick with a new stadium, but plans fell apart. So yes, it’s pretty obvious this needs to happen.
The Oakland Coliseum is potentially worse
The Coliseum in Oakland was a great baseball stadium at one point. I recently went to an A’s game and it’s a great experience. Public transportation makes it easy to get there and the baseball field looks amazing from the upper and lower decks. However, you can’t call it a real football stadium. The 10,000 seat expansion added in 1996 ruined the view of the surrounding hills and the seats up there are less than comfortable. This expansion had to be done to add more seats for football games, but it was an ugly addition and A’s fans hate it. Like the Niners, the Raiders have a hard time calling their home arena “home.” The stadium was originally built for both the A’s and the Raiders, but since the Raiders moved to Los Angeles for 12 years, the stadium became the A’s home territory. Like Candlestick it is terribly outdated in terms of facilities and luxury boxes, and many believe Al Davis plans to move the team if he does not get a new stadium in the Bay Area. Even the A’s, a team which couldn’t hope to compete money wise with the Raiders are looking for a new stadium.
So why should the teams share a stadium?
If you look around at the league, 3 of the worst 5 football stadiums reside in California (Qualcomm stadium being the other). There’s a good reason why all three of the California football teams have failed to build new stadiums and why there is no team in Los Angeles: the state simply refuses to pay for stadiums like other cities. Everybody wants to live in California- the big cities in this state don’t have to offer huge tax exceptions and up-front money to draw teams into the area. The state is also broke: California is facing budget problems and does not have the resources to spend money on publicly funded stadiums. If the Niners and Raiders hope to get any help from the city and state government, they should build a new joint stadium. In addition, the NFL has already publicly said they would prefer a joint stadium in the Bay. They know that an area with a total population of 7 million people has no need for two new, state-of-the art stadiums. With both teams pooling their resources, the Bay could be home to the best arena in the league. Not only is this a benefit for the teams, but this could help the struggling Bay Area economy. Not only would this increase investment in the area directly surrounding the stadium, but the NFL has recently been rewarding teams with new stadiums by letting them host the Super Bowl. A Bay Area Superbowl would be a great thing to see.
Finding a location for this hypothetical stadium is going to be the hard part. The most likely locations would be in the East Bay or South Bay- somewhere with a lot of space and close to public transportation. The area around the stadium could be built up with shops and restaurants and could really boost a stagnant Bay Area economy. The proposed area in Santa Clara for the Niners new stadium could work, but only if Caltrain and BART were somehow connected to the stadium. Regardless, I’m getting ahead of myself here- first we need an agreement between the two teams.
If you’re a die hard Niners or Raiders fan with a huge problem with this idea, please let us know in the comments.