Even as some of their players donned masks to guard against smoke during practice Thursday, the Raiders remain confident the smoky skies above the East Bay won’t prevent them from playing the Los Angeles Chargers at the Coliseum on Sunday.
But if that changes and the NFL and Raiders decide the air quality makes playing the game in Oakland unsafe, there is precedent to moving the game to another venue. During the catastrophic wild fires in San Diego in 2003, the poor air quality down south prompted the NFL to move the Chargers-Dolphins game to Arizona. Ironically, there was talk back then of Miami and San Diego playing in Oakland.
For the second consecutive day, the Raiders cut short their practice Thursday because of the air quality. Some of the Raiders even wore masks under their facemasks during practice.
“We continue to monitor air quality conditions in the Bay Area and are in close communication with both the Raiders and Chargers, as well as local authorities,” said NFL spokesman Michael Signora on Thursday. “At this point, the game remains scheduled for Sunday in Oakland.”
If conditions get worse over the skies in Oakland the next couple of days, options might include pushing the game back a day. The Raiders and Chargers have different bye weeks, so rescheduling later in the season wouldn’t appear to be among the possibilities.
What if the Raiders and Chargers needed a last-minute venue solution? What would the options be?
Would the Chargers — or Raiders, for that matter — be interested in changing their home-and-home series sites this late and having their Dec. 31 game, scheduled for Carson, moved to Oakland?
One could argue it wouldn’t make much difference for Chargers fans, who haven’t exactly filled the StubHub Center this season.
The Chargers, though, share their home stadium with Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, who have a game scheduled there Sunday afternoon, which poses an obvious problem.
If you want pie-in-the-skie options, what about the Chargers’ old Qualcomm Stadium home in San Diego? San Diego State’s football team plays there Saturday night against Boise State, but how do you think San Diego fans would react if given a chance to have Alex Spanos’ team back for a day?
Yeah, never mind.
While we look down south, the Raiders’ old home, the L.A. Coliseum, is open Sunday because the current tenants, the Rams, are playing in Jacksonville on Sunday. Could desperate times lead them back for a last-minute, one-game reunion on the field where Howie Long and Marcus Allen once reigned supreme?
Of course, the Los Angeles area is battling its own smoky sky issues these days as wildfires in the region continue to burn, so who knows how viable an option that would be.
However, if the air quality in the South Bay is significantly better than Oakland, there’s a stadium in Santa Clara that won’t be in use on Sunday — the 49ers will be in Washington, D.C.
Anybody want to speculate on how Raiders owner Mark Davis would feel about that possibility?
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