Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden can already cross SoFi Stadium off his list of favorite venues to play in, and he’s only played there twice.
It wasn’t just a frustrating 28-14 loss to Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers that had the Raiders’ coach irritated in a recent postgame press conference. In fact, Gruden’s distaste for the one of the NFL’s newest venues officially began in the final minutes before kickoff.
Jon Gruden ripped SoFi Stadium’s design after the bizarre delay
SoFi Stadium is an indoor venue with a translucent roof designed to protect fans from the California sun and any potential rain in the area. One would understandably believe such a stadium is free from traditional weather delays.
As the NFL world quickly realized on Monday, Oct. 4, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
SoFi Stadium has open panels on the side of the building. In other words, there are exposed spaces that make the building susceptible to lightning delays, as was the case when inclement weather pushed back the kickoff in the Raiders-Chargers game by roughly 35 minutes.
“I thought it was a joke,” Gruden remarked after the game, according to ProFootballTalk. “But it affected both teams.”
Gruden didn’t stop there when he spoke with reporters on Monday night.
“The locker room here is the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen. I mean, you can’t see anybody. It’s like a maze. So whoever contorted this visiting locker room, I’d like to meet this guy, see what his idea was.”Jon Gruden
Something tells us that Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and HKS, Inc. — the man who built SoFi Stadium and the company that designed it, respectively — shouldn’t expect to be on Gruden’s Christmas list this year. Or next year. But maybe in 2023.
Gruden wasn’t alone in offering commentary on the unexpected delay
While players from the Chargers and Raiders waited out the delay in their respective locker rooms, social media users preceded Gruden in taking SoFi Stadium to task.
ProFootballTalk’s Michael David Smith called the weather delay an “embarrassment for the NFL” in a three-tweet thread. He and others openly questioned why someone would build a $5.5 million stadium that is susceptible to weather delays.
“The ESPN crew is doing the pregame show on the field, and there are fans in the stands,” he wrote in one tweet. “So it’s safe to have people on the field, and it’s safe to have people in the stands, but they have to delay the game because [of] reasons.”
Oakland Athletics pitcher Chris Bassitt opted for the sarcastic route.
“A weather delay in a dome is so California it ain’t even funny,” the 2021 All-Star selection tweeted. Cleveland Browns receiver Anthony Schwartz offered a similar comment.
According to the Orange County Register, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley tried making light of the delay when he spoke with reporters following the win.
“We just said, ‘Hey, guys, this is going to be a chapter in our books. Weather delay in a dome stadium,’” Staley said.
2021 has been an extremely strange year for weather delays in sports
Considering how strange 2021 has been, perhaps all of us — and that includes Gruden — should have expected a weather delay at a closed-roof stadium at some point this season.
The overall oddities have extended to indoor venues, too. A leaky roof at Madison Square Garden forced a 14-minute pause during the third quarter of an April game between the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors. The Knicks at least used a 32-point fourth quarter to hold off Fred VanVleet and the Raptors that night.
Hurricane Ida’s fierce rain and wind forced an indoor weather delay at Louis Armstrong Stadium in Queens, N.Y., during September’s US Open. One match was postponed, and another moved to Arthur Ashe Stadium.
All of this means we’re definitely headed for a snowed-out game in the 2021 World Series, even if this year’s Fall Classic involves the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers. Actually, can we instead have them play during a snowstorm? That sounds far more enjoyable.