Now that we’ve reached the tedious part of the lockout, as it reaches the finish line and the owners realize, “Oh crap, we’re going to miss out on all those preseason games,” and the players realize, “Oh crap, if we settle now we’re going to have to play all those preseason games,” the Bay Area gridiron fan is currently distracted by the idea that the 49ers and Raiders may end up sharing a stadium one day. In the future. The very distant future. If about 200 things fall into place. Totally going to happen.
If the 49ers and Raiders were roommates, at least they’d avoid one of the classic roommate struggles: whose food and beverages belong to whom. The 49ers won’t even need to write their names on their bottles of Chardonnay, nor the Raiders on their tallboys of Four Loko. The Mt. Tam from Cowgirl Creamery? The Raiders won’t even touch it, since they have plenty of Kraft Singles.
But like a sexually charged but volatile couple who mostly get along fine — provided they have their space — it’s questionable what’s to be gained by the 49ers and Raiders shacking up.
Having said that, we all know what the deal is — why it “makes sense” for the two local NFL teams to share a stadium:
— Both teams play in stadiums with primitive luxury suites, multipurpose setups that don’t lend themselves perfectly to football, and bowels that actually smell like human bowels.
— Mount Davis doesn’t just look heinous, it gives whoever sits up there altitude sickness.
— Anyone who’s ever been trapped in the Candlestick Park parking lot late into a Sunday evening, hours after the game ended at 4:15 pm, knows a level of hell (at least if you’re behind the wheel — if you’re pleasantly buzzed and sitting in the passenger seat or in the back, listening to music or the radio, life could be worse — unless you have to pee).
— There’s the pesky notion that if either team doesn’t get a new stadium sometime in the next 5-to-10 years, they could move to Los Angeles.
— California isn’t footing the bill for any stadium, let alone two separate stadiums in one region.
— The NFL used to have a stadium-building subsidy program, but it supposedly ran out of money back in 2007. If Roger Goodell’s going to open up the company pockets again, it’s been strongly suggested that the two teams share a large, expensive, football-only structure with two levels of luxury boxes (at least).
Are you ready for some
Which leads to why among fans, even supporters of a shared stadium are lukewarm: new NFL stadiums are incredibly overrated for fans. The prices get even higher (and it isn’t like the Coliseum or ‘Stick are exactly bargains now), the atmosphere becomes antiseptic. Sure, the revenue stream gets higher. But the NFL already has revenue sharing, and soon will have a salary cap and floor that should put everyone on a relatively even playing field.
The argument for the 49ers and Raiders sharing a house in a neutral location like Santa Clara (besides the obvious financial considerations) is, “Look at the Giants and Jets, they share a stadium and it isn’t even in New York!” Well, you know what I think every time I see a New York Giants or Jets home game? First, I think about the fact that they’re actually in New Jersey, and it bothers me (yes, I am a simple and petty man). Then I think about how this isn’t really the Giants’ or Jets’ home, because next week the end zones and fans will be dressed in different colors.
The biggest benefit to fans of having a new stadium? It’s like your team just got a beautiful new house you can be proud of. Actually, that’s the only real benefit, unless you go to NFL games to check out the upgraded bathroom facilities and luxury concessions. And who does that? People go to football games to tailgate like crazy for hours before the contest, fill up on food and drink to the degree that you aren’t even hungry when you walk through the gates, and yell like crazy when your team’s either on defense or scores a touchdown. And if the Raiders and Niners get new stadiums or share one, there’s going to be fewer people yelling and more people sitting in khakis with their legs crossed saying, “Down in front, or I’ll text security and have you removed from the premises.”
You can’t stop progress, and neither team’s owners want to stay in their current stadiums for long. And if they end up sharing a stadium in Santa Clara, that’s fine. And once a new stadium is built around here (it’ll happen eventually, although I have my doubts the Niners and Raiders will share it), the owners who inhabit said stadium will be on top of the world, swimming in gold bullion like Scrooge McDuck.
However, in this fan’s opinion, things aren’t altogether horrible right now. And a new stadium won’t suddenly make things better, either in the win column or the “fan experience” category (the fact that a 6-story parking garage is somehow a benefit seems to be missing the fact that barbecues aren’t as fun underneath a ceiling). In other words, enjoy the time it takes to get to the distant future when pigs fly and 49ers and Raiders sleep together.