Biggest NFL Stadium Stories for 2019
Even in the absence of a new stadium opening, the NFL should have an interesting 2019 when it comes to facilities. One team enters the new year without a firm answer surrounding its home, while some clubs are awaiting under-construction stadiums, and a few may carry out renovations.
Below is our look at the biggest NFL stadium stories for 2019, including the Oakland Raiders’ ongoing search for a one-season home, the building of new stadiums in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and renovations to existing facilities. The landscape is likely to change over the coming months, but for now it is apparent that the NFL is heading for a unique year when it comes to facilities.
Where will the Raiders play in 2019?
A recent lawsuit filed by the City of Oakland against the team and the NFL has left doubts about where the Raiders will play in 2019, as their lease for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum ran through the 2018 season. With the lawsuit making an extension less likely, the club will have to figure out what venue—or venues—could host home games for one season until a new Las Vegas stadium opens in 2020.
Reports have surfaced linking several possibilities to the Raiders: the home of MLB’s San Francisco Giants and the new Tottenham Stadium have been mentioned in reports, while the team has received overtures from Tucson, and a seemingly wide range of other options could be in play. However, the issue remains unresolved, as neither the team nor the NFL has given an indication of where the club will play home games next year. It remains to be seen when a solution will emerge, but for scheduling purposes this is a challenge that the team and the league may look to resolve within the early stages of the year.
New Stadium Construction in Los Angeles, Las Vegas
Over the long run, the Raiders can still look forward to their new $1.8 billion home that is currently under construction in Las Vegas. Set to open next year, the stadium is being built at a site west of Mandalay Bay for the Raiders and UNLV football. It is also expected to be a draw for other major events, with a future Super Bowl being a viable possibility.
In Los Angeles, construction continues on what is perhaps the league’s most ambitious stadium project to date—the new Los Angeles Stadium at Hollywood Park (rendering above), located in Inglewood. Upcoming home to both the Rams and the Chargers, the stadium will anchor a sprawling development at the site of the former Hollywood Park Racetrack. Delays due to heavy rainfall in the early phases of construction caused the stadium’s originally scheduled 2019 opening to be pushed back, but it remains on track for 2020.
The new Los Angeles stadium will join MetLife Stadium—home to the New York Giants and Jets—as just one of two that hosts a pair of NFL teams, and has already been chosen as the site of Super Bowl LVI in 2022. It will also play a major role in the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
For now, the biggest renovation in the works comes from the Baltimore Ravens, who are planning a round of upgrades to M&T Bank Stadium that includes club and suite level improvements. Other upgrades will also factor into the upcoming round of renovations, which is expected to be the last in the Ravens’ roughly $120-million, multi-phase project that began in 2017.
Given how busy teams have been in upgrading their facilities in recent years, there figure to be more renovations announced over the coming weeks and months. Some—such as the Minnesota Vikings’ plans to swap out the turf at U.S. Bank Stadium—will focus on on-field and player facility improvements, while others could focus on upgraded fan amenities.
Though it will take years for a solution to come to fruition, 2019 could provide a better sense of how the Buffalo Bills will handle their long-term stadium situation. The status quo at aging New Era Field will not work for Bills owner Pegula Sports & Entertainment (PSE), which announced in late November that CAA ICON will conduct a study on the team’s stadium options, including the feasibility of renovations and a potential new facility. The study, which will also consider potential renovations to Buffalo’s KeyBank Center—home of the NHL’s Sabres, another team owned by PSE—is expected to take six to nine months to complete.