Questions over San Francisco 49ers territorial rights and scheduling challenges reportedly face the Oakland Raiders in their pursuit of Oracle Park as a 2019 home, adding uncertainty to their search.
The scenario involving the Raiders to Oracle Park has gained traction over the last several weeks, with the home of MLB’s Giants reported as a potential landing spot for the Raiders. A return to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for next season appears less likely because of a recent lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland against the team and the NFL, while their new home in Las Vegas will not be ready until 2020.
On the surface, Oracle Park offers a few advantages, as it has hosted football before and would allow the Raiders to remain in the Bay Area for another year. While the possibility of the team playing there is still in play, several questions remain. There have been reports suggesting that the 49ers are not inclined to waive territorial restrictions to allow the Raiders to set up shop in San Francisco for a season, but the 49ers have yet to confirm that is the case. In addition, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that possible scheduling conditions are another area that could have to be addressed before the Raiders could move into Oracle Park:
NFL Network reported Tuesday that the 49ers were not expected to waive territorial rights, but the 49ers have not stated this. A source told The Chronicle that the 49ers, who have played home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara since 2014, may not have territorial rights to San Francisco.
The NFL did not immediately respond to an email regarding the territorial-rights question.
According to the source, scheduling would be a key factor in the Raiders sharing Oracle Park next season. Among the possible conditions are the Raiders playing no exhibition games or September home games at Oracle and scheduling divisional games in October in case the Giants make the playoffs and require the Raiders to swap home dates.
The idea is that the Giants would want to avoid any scenario in which they play on a field that has been affected by football. However, the October condition could create complications in that AFC West opponents also could be required to adjust their home dates on short notice.
Having a shared MLB-NFL facility creates both scheduling complications and extra wear and tear to the playing surface, something that the Raiders and A’s have had to grapple with for years at the Coliseum. Although the Giants have not made the playoffs since 2016 and finished below .500 in each of the past two seasons, the club likely wants to minimize any late-MLB season damage to the playing surface in the event that it contends for the postseason. (Keep in mind, too, that the quality of the surface would be a concern for the Giants opponents as they visit for meaningful late-season games.)
Another complication is the push back that the potential shared arrangement at Oracle Park has received within San Francisco political circles. Several officials spoke out against the possibility around the time that it was first reported, and San Francisco mayor London Breed shared her own grievances with the issue during an interview with KTVU this week.