I am not among those of my era who are amazed that the Rolling Stones are still touring energetically at carbon-dateable age, but I know I am in the minority here, and I recognize power when I see it. So when the Stones condemned their recent experience playing the 49ers’ stadium, the implication was clear.
The 49ers should move.
The team, which built and owns the stadium, located it within the confines of the city of Santa Clara, where its headquarters have been for decades. But until the stadium was built, city and company got along well enough. Since then, though, they have enjoyed a hate-hate relationship so vicious that they don’t even hide it anymore. They’ve fought over adjacent soccer fields, curfews, taxes, zoning, ingress, egress and engaged in hilarious and mutual snottiness toward each other. The stadium, once hailed as a triumph, is now condemned as a terrible alternative to Candlestick Park, whose best day was the day it was collapsed. It’s hot in the sun, and the turf is bad in the rain, and it’s empty in all conditions. Jed York looked like a genius, and five years later he looks like pre-stadium Jed again.
Indeed, Oakland and the Raiders got along far better, even while the football team was leaving. Beat that with a stick.
So with the caveat that not every situation is the same, maybe it’s time after all these years (five) for an annulment. I mean, if you can’t make Mick Jagger happy, what is the point of any relationship?
True, the 49ers would be leaving their own stadium, and true, there isn’t a lot of open space between where Candlestick was and Levi’s is, but it isn’t like there aren’t places out there that would debase themselves for a stadium. Besides, who wouldn’t like a team leaving its own home because they think the neighbors suck, while the neighbors are offering to put up the For Sale signs on their own dime?
Toward that end, my first solution: Las Vegas. When the Raiders were trying to figure out their stadium problem (which is to say, before they bamboozled Sheldon Adelson), they were always earmarked by people who didn’t understand either team’s leadership to become subtenants of the 49ers. It is to Mark Davis’s credit (yeah, yeah, shut up) that he refused. But it seems right and proper to subject Jed York to that same level of humiliation, making him the guy who has to pay rent to the guy who didn’t want to pay rent to him.
Second: Oakland. The advantage is that they would be moving closer to their actual fan base, and to an old/borderline decrepit stadium which would remind them of the place where they knew their finest glories. In addition, it would drive the A’s nuts yet again, since they are this close to finally having the town to themselves, and we could listen to a few more years of football players bitching about the evils of infield dirt. The disadvantage is that the 49ers might be actually playing a game when the city implodes the place, and while the NFL can endure rescheduling games due to weather, doing so due to rubble would be a rougher optic.
Third: Los Angeles. The idea of Jed getting last choice on everything after Stan Kroenke and Dean Spanos is hilarious on its face, and the three guys could split the cost of begging the Stones to return. Besides, every team in the NFL will eventually be based in Los Angeles for network ease, so why not jumpstart that process? The NFL put a game in Winnipeg on an 80-yard field, so overcrowding is clearly not an issue.
Fourth: Treasure Island. The artificial island built in 1939 and which currently holds up the middle of the Bay Bridge is technically a part of San Francisco. But getting there and leaving there would be an ordeal that would make getting in and out of the Santa Clara yard resemble the Star Trek transporter, and besides, global warming is going to swamp the whole thing in 20 years anyway and we’ll be right back where we started, with a stadium with half its seats in a flash-fryer.
Fifth: St. Louis. This would simply be more needless punishment for a city that doesn’t deserve it.
Sixth: Mendocino County. If the league ever relents on marijuana as a pain medication, the 49ers can corner the market on Day One, a competitive advantage that would make Jerry Jones’s brain explode. That, we can all agree, is a desirable outcome under any circumstance.
Seventh: London. Gives the Jaguars a traveling partner for when Shad Khan finally leaves Florida, and Jed could buy Bolton to save that franchise as an act of good will.
Eighth: Mexico City. Now that the Raiders have a home that they can’t be forced out of by the league office, our neighbor to the south needs a replacement, and according to the government there, moving the Dolphins would constitute an act of war.
Ninth: Reno. Nevada gives out money without a lot of hesitation. They might be willing to be suckers again.
Or how about just: Buy Santa Clara. This would take some serious cash because rich folks live there, but it may be the only answer since annexations have fallen out of fashion since the U.S. blackjacked Texas 174 years ago. Bribing the city council is a faster way, but we wouldn’t encourage that unless we could watch and take 10 percent for our silence. Jed could have himself named the Emperor of Silicon Valley and banish the current Santa Clara political establishment to a re-education camp outside Watsonville, and still have his albatross of a stadium.
But he will never again know the comforting love of Charlie Watts and Keith Richards. It’s a high price to pay, but that’s what happens when you can’t get along with your neighbors.
Ray Ratto wonders why the NFL hasn’t air-dropped Jay-Z in for mediation. I mean, what else is he there for?