Oakland Roots stunningly called off last Saturday’s home opener against Memphis 901 FC just seven hours before the game due to the field conditions at Laney College Football Stadium. It marks the second time the organization has had to postpone a home opener in its time within the USL Championship after the Juneteenth debacle in 2021–sending supporters into a frenzy, taking another embarrassing lash to the face.
Roots announced today they are moving April 1’s slated match against New Mexico United to Cal State University East Bay in Hayward. Pioneer Stadium notably holds a 5,000 seat capacity–500 less than Laney–and one main grandstand in a sunken field.
As of Friday, March 24, Laney College athletic director John Beam posted on social media they are concluding renovations on its field. However, the video shows work was still being done with equipment moving around. Evident by Roots’ announcement to move its upcoming match to CSUEB, Laney is clearly not ready in the immediate future.
The root of the issue at Laney College is the infill, a material to help cushion synthetic turf, which requires time to settle. Although Beam indicates in his video the field was done on Friday, March 24–there was a miscommunication on what was deemed “accomplished” by the college.
Team sources indicate Roots initially laid their turf on top of Laney’s new field on March 24 and things seemed normal at first. However, the weight of the turf on the recently laid infill caused the field to warp in several areas while giving a “pillowy” like balance. Upon returning the following morning, Roots’ staff noticed the sunken sections of turf and scrambled for options.
Infill is typically the final portion of synthetic turf installations and levels itself out naturally over time with playing activity. It’s unclear if Laney College foresaw Roots’ turf improperly impacting the fresh infill, but the club was given the greenlight to carry on as usual.
In its press release, Oakland Roots announced the recent storms over the last month postponed Laney’s project. Although time began backing up, the school’s athletic department expressed their project would be done by Thursday, March 23 and ready to go the following day.
“We had reassurance that the field would be completed on the 23rd,” said a Roots’ source.
Roots examined Merritt College in the Oakland hills as a possible temporary venue, similar to when they played there in 2021, but the site lacking lights meant they would need to starkly alter the April 1 schedule on short notice with the USL Championship, sponsors for Roots and New Mexico United, and both home/away broadcasts.
As for whether Laney will be ready for April 15’s match, the club responded they are taking things on a week-to-week basis and will dive deeper into the Hartford match once they are completed with New Mexico. Oakland will make its first two appearances of the season at Pioneer Stadium with the US Open Cup set for April 4 against El Farolito.
Another wrench in the mix is that CSUEB’s Pioneer Stadium is scheduled to undergo renovations of its own in June. Should issues persist at Laney, returning to Hayward will not be an option for the latter half of the season.
We’ll progressively provide more information on Roots’ ongoing stadium situation.