Believe it or not, this is the campus of a school that will take on not only two of Black College Football’s most prestigious programs, but a school headed to Conference USA next season. Don’t recognize the campus? This is the campus of Lincoln University in downtown Oakland, California. This article by Kyle Kensing provides an intriguing look at one of the most mysterious programs in college sports.
Since starting their program in 2021, the Lincoln Oaklanders have not played a single home game and the same will be true in 2023. While the paydays are good for the program, the travel mileage and costs are unbelievable. After traveling 19,367 miles in 2022, or an average of 1,937 miles per game, the Oaklanders will travel 19,755 miles for an average of 1646 miles per game.
It’s hard to imagine this travel load is sustainable unless the paydays are huge. Yet it’s hard to imagine where the Oaklanders would play home games against lower-division teams. This is where the Oakland A’s move plays a factor.
Even casual sports fans know about the Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas, which began to materialize last week. While it’s logical for the city of Oakland to demolish the Coliseum, the city can make good use of the property rather than simply leaving it abandoned.
I am not suggesting that the entirety of the Oakland Coliseum remain standing for a school whose football program is three years old and has never played a home game. Instead, I suggest, the city leave the monstrosity that is “Mount Davis”, or the colossal centerfield bleachers of the Coliseum.
Built in 1996, as a solution to keep the Raiders in Oakland, and costing Oakland around $200 million, the towering bleachers seat around 11,000, more than enough to accommodate Lincoln. Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect Lincoln to draw return visits from Southern or Florida A&M, but a football stadium that utilizes only the Mount Davis bleachers could be enough to draw return trips against regional 2023 opponents like the College of Idaho and Western Oregon.
Compared to the curved bleachers at the Coliseum, Mount Davis provides better site lines for football. Surprisingly, a college keeping a set of bleachers from an abandoned ballpark has precedent. A portion of the stands from Braves Field in Boston, built in 1915, serves as the bleachers for Boston University’s Nickerson Field, which serves as home to the university’s athletic teams.
Having even one or two home games not only helps cut down on the immense travel costs for Lincoln, but it also funnels money into Oakland’s economy. Hosting Lincoln football games will not bring tourism and commerce on the level of A’s and Raiders’ games but it is better than nothing. Additionally, it increases local revenue to a degree through the temporary employment needed to staff games through concessions and security.
The curved bleachers around the rest of the stadium can be demolished to make way for housing in the area or other buildings that will help the city, making it a win for all parties in the city.
Converting Mount Davis to a usable college football venue for a young program would be one silver lining to one of the saddest sagas in recent sports memory.