The Oakland Raiders announced Wednesday they will be covering up 10,000 seats next season on the east side of the O.co Coliseum. This has to be one of the most embarrassing things the team has had to do in recent years. Raider Nation is a devoted and loyal fan base, so the fact the team had to cover up seats should anger and embarrass the Raiders and their fans.
The new capacity at the Coliseum for next season is expected to be around 53,250, about 1, 000 less than the average attendance for games this season. The major motivation behind the move is the change in the NFL blackout policy which now requires teams to sell out to have games televised locally instead of the 85 percent last season. This will make it easier for the Raiders to sell out, but the tarp will be an eyesore for fans and television cameras alike.
However, the biggest issue is that fans as proud as Raider Nation were not showing enough support that the team was forced to close off a section of the stadium. I understand attendance is down across the league with the experience away from the stadium becoming better than in the past, but it is not like Oakland has a lot of pro sports. Similar to how cities like Milwaukee and Buffalo rally around the few teams they have in their area, the same should be true of Oakland even though San Francisco is right across the bay.
The fans and team alike should be embarrassed by the need to tarp a section of the stadium, but it was a necessary evil so Raiders’ fans could watch the home games on local television.