As the 49ers stadium issues in Santa Clara have developed, one recurring topic in the comments has been reaction to the potential need for the 49ers and Raiders to share the stadium. Financing a new football stadium is not quite as easy as it was a decade ago when cities and counties were throwing money at teams and naming rights deals were there for the taking. Tough economic times and certain realities about public financing have put the onus on teams and the NFL to figure out how to finance a stadium.
The 49ers have had a basic framework in place for a new stadium in Santa Clara, but financing remains a significant issue. Naming rights are a sizable concern outside of the Farmers Insurance deal in LA as we've seen Dallas and the Giants/Jets struggle to find a naming rights buyer. Throw in tough economic times making it aless practical for many fans to afford personal seat licenses and you've got a tough road ahead if the 49ers want to open their stadium by 2014 or 2015.
This has all led to predictions that the 49ers and Raiders will end up going in on a stadium deal together. It would not be at all surprising to see the NFL basically tell the two teams that they need to team up on a new stadium if they want NFL money through a future G3 fund. As would be expected, this has led to some fairly disgruntled comments about having to share a stadium with Raiders fans.
My thought is whether there really is such a significant rivalry as to turn off many fans in a shared stadium. Raiders fans and 49ers fans don't exactly get along, but is it really all that intense? Are the two teams "hated rivals" as James described it? I suppose the geographic rivalry is still there, but I just don't sense it at this point. Maybe some folks still view it as some kind of bitter rivalry. Am I missing something in that?
At the end of the day, it sounds like this deal would be the 49ers basically leasing the stadium from Santa Clara, and the Raiders then sub-leasing it from the 49ers. If they could work out some kind of deal like this, I'd actually argue it might be more fun for 49ers fans because then the Raiders become a sort of lesser party in this transaction. I don't know if it would work out that way once the NFL gets involved, but it's worth considering. I'm always down for having the Raiders sitting a notch below the 49ers.