RAIDERS TO UTAH?

How Does Salt Lake Stack Up Against Potential 2019 Homes For Raiders?

Dec 14, 2018, 10:16 AM | Updated: Dec 31, 2018, 1:48 pm
General view of Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah where the game be...
General view of Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 15, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah where the game between the Washington Huskies and the Utah Utes was played. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Reports surfaced earlier this week that the Oakland Raiders, who were planning on moving to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, will likely need to find a temporary home for the 2019 season.

The city of Oakland is seeking nearly $80 million to pay off the debts for renovations to the on the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum. It is not seeking to prevent the move. The city also claims that the NFL violated its own relocation policies in voting to move the Raiders to Oakland.

“For this one year, you have the opportunity to steal a ton of fans with a fan base from Salt Lake City that want (the NFL).”

“The Raiders’ illegal move lines the pockets of NFL owners and sticks Oakland, its residents, taxpayers and dedicated fans with the bill,” Oakland city attorney Barbara Parker said in a statement. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold the defendants accountable and help to compensate Oakland for the damages the defendants’ unlawful actions have caused and will cause to the people of Oakland.”

The Raiders are planning to move into their new stadium in Las Vegas in 2020. The team hasn’t signed a lease for 2019. The Raiders had been in talks with the city of Oakland about a lease for next season but they might need to look for another option following the suit.

Santa Clara, San Diego, St. Louis and San Antonio are among the cities reportedly being considered for the temporary home.

An early move to Las Vegas’ Sam Boyd Stadium is also on the table. It is also important to note that the Raiders will be hosting a regular season game in either London or Mexico City, the NFL announced Wednesday.

On the heels of a convincing argument by the hosts of KSL’s Unrivaled, KSL Sports examined how those potential landing spots size up and how appealing a potential stay in Salt Lake City may be for Raiders’ owner Mark Davis.

“Raiders fans are already coming out of California, and Vegas is going to have Raiders fans,” said KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry on the Unrivaled podcast.

Kirry said the NFL and Raiders would be throwing away a golden opportunity by going anywhere but Utah.

“For this one year, you have the opportunity to steal a ton of fans with a fan base from Salt Lake City that want [the NFL]. Get them in Salt Lake for one season,” he said.

The following cities have been speculated as a possible location for the Raiders to play home games in 2019:

  • Salt Lake City
  • St. Louis
  • Santa Clara
  • San Diego
  • San Antonio
  • Reno
  • Las Vegas

Rice-Eccles Stadium (Salt Lake City)

Year opened: 1997 (after major renovation)
Capacity: 45,807
Surface: FieldTurf
Primary tenant: University of Utah football

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

For multiple reasons, Rice-Eccles Stadium would make a suitable venue for the Raiders in 2019. Capacity-wise the stadium is nearly 20,000 seats larger than the StubHub Center, where the Los Angeles Chargers have played the last few seasons.

Although LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo is more the size of a typical NFL stadium, it’s very unlikely that BYU’s administration would allow the irreverence of Raider Nation and the sale of beer at the venue, two things that would be must for whichever city lands the Raiders in 2019.

As Unrivaled hosts Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry stated in their recent podcast, spending a year in the Salt Lake valley could do wonders for the Raiders franchise.

The team would have a season to build goodwill in the community and it’s entirely possible that many Utahns, who frequently visit southern Utah, may travel a couple hours further to support the Raiders in Las Vegas.

The Dome (St. Louis)

Year opened: 1995
Capacity: 66,965
Surface: AstroTurf
Primary tenant: None

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Like another city on the list, San Diego, St. Louis lost its NFL team to the bright lights of Hollywood. The Dome at America’s Center currently sits vacant with no permanent tenant. A return to the St. Louis area would breathe life back into an area of fans that got their heart broken.

That said, this possible temporary location for the Raiders is not overly popular with conjecturing pundits.

 

Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara)

Year opened: 2014
Capacity: 68,500
Surface: Natural grass
Primary tenant: San Francisco 49ers

 (Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Splitting Levi’s Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers is an appealing choice for the Raiders if they want to retain their hold on their Northern California fanbase.

It’s not unheard of for two teams to share a stadium; the New York Jets and the New York Giants have been doing it for years. When the stadium in Inglewood, California opens in 2020, the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers will share the stadium.

However, several reporters claim that a situation where the Raiders would share a stadium with their longtime Bay Area rival is highly unlikely.

SDCCU Stadium (San Diego)

Year opened: 1967
Capacity: 79,561
Surface: Natural grass
Primary tenant: San Diego State football

 (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)

After losing its team to Los Angeles a couple of years ago, San Diego could see the return of NFL football, at least for one season, due to the situation in Oakland.

The stadium however, is in state of disrepair, a primary reason why the Chargers left in the first place.

It also seems unlikely that Southern California would support three NFL teams at the same time as both the Chargers and the Rams have struggled to establish a footprint in not-too-far Los Angeles.

Alamodome (San Antonio)

Year opened: 1993
Capacity: 64,000
Surface: AstroTurf
Primary tenant: UTSA football

(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

When the New Orleans Saints were forced to find a temporary home due to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, they played three regular games in the Alamodome.

It was a successful venture as the Saints averaged an attendance of 62,665 fans over the three games in the stadium. Clearly, San Antonio could host the Raiders if need be. The Alamodome also hosts a college football bowl game, the Alamo Bowl.

San Antonio is a city desperate to prove they can support more than the NBA’s Spurs, but the problem may be that the location may be out of the Raiders’ long term plans to build a regional fanbase.

It would also be asking a lot of team employees to relocate from California to Texas to Nevada in such a short period of time, but pretty much all the possible landing spots carry a similar dilemma.

Mackay Stadium (Reno)

Year opened: 1966
Capacity: 27,000
Surface: Field Turf
Primary tenant: University of Nevada

In a car, it takes about three and a half hours to drive from Oakland to Reno. This would be ideal for Raiders fans that reside in Oakland. It would also be great for the team as they try to establish a foothold in Nevada.

The stadium previously held over 30,000 seats before downsizing to 27,000 in 2017. It is likely that the would have to upgrade the locker rooms and other facilities before moving in, but they could still practice in the Bay Area and fly into Reno to play on Sundays.

Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas)

Year opened: 1971
Capacity: 36,800
Surface: Sprinturf
Primary tenant: UNLV

 (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

This option is probably Mark Davis’ least favorite. It’s been well-publicized that Davis has dreams of a grand entrance onto the Las Vegas scene when the Raiders move to their fabulous new stadium in 2020. Moving into dingy, dumpy Sam Boyd Stadium in 2019 would not be the ideal welcome to the area.

Major renovations would be needed to raise the stadium’s capacity to 40,000.

Moving into Sam Boyd Stadium, even for just a season, would be a major blow to Davis’ ego and grand plans.

What Does Salt Lake Offer That Other Cities Don’t?

Though Salt Lake City doesn’t have the dazzle of some of the other cities on the list of potential Raiders homes, it is still a major market without an NFL affiliation.

Ranked as the 30th largest television market in the nation, only Sacramento, Portland, and Raleigh are larger cities that do not have an NFL franchise experience. In fact, Salt Lake City is a bigger television market than Las Vegas.

Scoring Salt Lake City as Raiders territory could be a huge win for the franchise.

Why Not Salt Lake?

Due to the belief system of dense population of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sporting events that take place on Sunday are hard to come by in the Salt Lake valley.  As such, the NBA’s Utah Jazz has typically avoided scheduling games on Sunday. The thought of hosting an NFL contest on a Sunday in Salt Lake City seems like a unlikely proposition.

Also, Salt Lake is usually considered by most as a very conservative area. The Raiders, who will be coming from Oakland and heading to Las Vegas, are likely pursuing a different clientele than the typical Utah sports fan.

Need To Figure It Out Quickly

Regardless of where the Raiders will be playing next season, they’ll need to figure it out soon. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly has asked the team to have a plan in place by early January or February so that they can construct the league’s schedule.

The clock is ticking because the 2019 NFL season will be here in no time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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How Does Salt Lake Stack Up Against Potential 2019 Homes For Raiders?