If there was any question that the economic downtown is beginning to trickle down to professional sports, here’s the confirmation: The country’s most popular professional sports league, the NFL, is begging two of its franchises to share a stadium.
OK, so the word they technically used was “urging.” Nonetheless, it’s a drastic step considering that the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders aren’t exactly on great terms. The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’s Mike Swift broke the story that the league is stepping up pressure on both teams, and views this stadium share as a potential duplicate of the way things have worked out for the Giants and Jets in New York, though talk of the project has been swirling for weeks, as we previously reported right here.
Still, while the idea might make fans of both franchises cringe, it has some serious merit, as both Swift and a report in THE SPORTING NEWS note. The teams would only have to “share” the stadium for a single preseason game every year, than a matchup between them once every four years. That’s five games every four years. No big deal.
Of course, all of those considerations fail to take the cultural difference between the two sets of fan bases into account. Anyone who thinks that 49ers fans are going to be comfortable sharing a brand new stadium with the Raiders’ crew of spiked shoulder pad lunatics are kidding themselves. And there’s no proof that the Santa Clara site hand picked by the 49ers could add the infrastructure space needed to accommodate both teams.
Will it happen? Good luck guessing. All of the logical signs point to “yes”, but like all intra-regional rivalries in the NFL, there are just as many emotional reasons to reject that notion, and that in itself might keep things from going forward.
Need more proof? Just think: All that pessimism comes before you even consider the Al Davis factor. If he’s afraid he’ll have to pay 10 cents more than he should, there’s no way this deal goes forward.
Good luck Roger Goodell and, for that matter, the rest of the NFL. It says here that you’re probably going to need it.