Major news out of Nanaimo as we have learned joint press conferences will be held in Nanaimo and Oakland California this Monday to announce the building of a new football stadium in the Canadian city Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Rumoured to be named “Nanaimo Centre”, the 14000-seat stadium will be built at 1 Port Drive on Nanaimo’s south downtown waterfront. The stadium will be the new home base of the Vancouver Island Raiders as well as the temporary home of the Oakland Raiders of the NFL for 4 games in the 2018 season.
The stadium is being funded by the Oakland Raiders and the NFL and is one of 4 stadiums being built to be temporary homes for the Oakland Raiders in the 2018 season.
The move to Nanaimo is a result of the Oakland Raiders 2019 relocation to Las Vegas and the resulting backlash from fans in Oakland. The NFL team has decided that playing two seasons in a city the team is leaving isn’t something that will be continued past 2017. Raiders owner Mark Davis, along with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will be announcing at Monday’s press conference the Oakland Raiders will play home games in 4 locations in 2019, all in stadiums built through a joint venture of the NFL and Oakland Raiders.
It’s been confirmed that the 4 stadiums, to be built to assist amateur football teams, will be in Nanaimo, Basildon England (30 miles outside London), Las Vegas Nevada (a new high school stadium in advance of the Raiders permanent NFL stadium, and Verkhoyansk Russia. The stadium in Russia was specifically chosen as that city is listed as one of the 10 coldest in the world. There the NFL and Raiders will be testing all weather equipment and uniforms that are expected to be adopted by the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears due to the inclement weather conditions those club’s occasionally play in.
We were unable to reach either Mark Davis or Roger Goodell but did speak to VI Raiders President Kabel Atwal who will be at the press conference Monday. He was understandably excited that his club would soon be leaving Caledonia Park, a stadium with the dubious distinction as the worst junior football stadium east of Windsor Ontario.
Atwal on the upcoming announcement;
“Obviously, this is huge for the VI Raiders and the city of Nanaimo but I think also the Oakland Raiders and the NFL. We will soon have the best stadium in the British Columbia Football Conference but the Oakland Raiders are going to love it here.
“Our stadium is going to have fantastic ocean views and the temperature for the players is going to be much better than the incredible heat in Vegas and that brutal cold in Russia. The Russia thing I really don’t get. You might as well be playing in Winnipeg or Regina as the temperature is about the same. I know many of the players we recruit out of the prairies will tell you this was a terrific move for them, and I know the NFL is going to feel the same way. Our hope is that they re-consider the whole Vegas thing altogether and relocate to Nanaimo on a permanent basis. That is the ultimate- goal for us.
“But most importantly, the VI Raiders will finally have a home stadium a junior football team and a city can be proud of. I know we don’t need 14000 seats, really a 2500 seat stadium would be perfect but we will take this and really want to thank the Oakland Raiders and the NFL for stepping up.
“The VI Raiders football club has 7 provincial and 3 national championships since 2005. We have brought a lot of positive things to Nanaimo. A stadium this city can be proud of is awesome for the community and it’s long overdue. It’s going to benefit not only our team but high school and minor football as well.”