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Raiders don't need a palace

Posted December 29, 2014

Scott Ostler - San Francisco Chronicle -

 

It’s time for Mark Davis and the Raiders to take the team, and football, and sports, and the world, in a new direction: back to the basics.

Levi’s Stadium is a French poodle. The Raiders need a rescue mutt.

Sports-venue building has become a game of rich-guy one-upmanship. I see your Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones, and I raise you Levi’s Stadium, with wi-fi in every hot dog. Excuse me, frankfurter.

Result: faux-marble palaces for the 1 percenters.

San Francisco is bidding to host the Olympics. For the main stadium, the plan is to erect a temp stadium for $350 million. Temporary (I assume) does not mean unsafe or rickety; it means basic and unpretty.

The London Olympics featured temp arenas. A couple of years ago, San Francisco put up a temp stadium on a pier for a volleyball tournament. They worked fine.

The Raiders could build a “temp” stadium that could be used for 10 years or more. Bad idea if you’re trying to win architecture awards. Great idea if you’re trying to win football games.

A Levi’s-class stadium would cost $1.5 billion, plus the cost of designer chefs. A temp stadium can be built for less than one-third of that cost.

With the billion dollars saved, the Raiders can keep ticket prices from skyrocketing and give themselves a true Black Hole atmosphere. The basic bowl will be a noise trap. With no VIP dining/drinking hideouts, fans will — a novel idea — sit in their seats!

Here’s a truth that stadium builders always ignore: Football fans don’t give a spit what the stadium looks like. But if you’re worried about an ugly exterior, the erector-set look, do this: Nail plywood to the outside structure and paint it white. Voila! A giant outdoor projection screen for art, photos, movies (no ads). Hey, a new use for the Raiders’ overhead projector!

The Raiders are the perfect team for this bold experiment. Their fans are not martini-sippers or canape-nibblers. They come to football games for football games.

Instead of a work of art, the Raiders would have a stadium that celebrates the art of work.