Please Don’t Go
As it stands the Oakland Raiders will officially be the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. This move has not been easy for Raiders owner Mark Davis, for the fans or Oakland. In fact, many obstacles, detours and pitfalls were overcome to make this move happen. The Raiders are not out of the woods just yet though. Oakland, the long-time home to the Raiders and myself is threatening to sue the team for leaving. Also, where the team will play home games for the 2019 season remains an unanswered question.
The Raiders have shared the Coliseum with MLB team Oakland Athletics since 1968 when the A’s moved to Oakland from Kansas City. Also on site, neighboring the coliseum is Oracle Arena, home of NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Here is a link to an aerial view of the Oakland Coliseum to give you a better idea of the layout.
Can’t We Work Things Out
Efforts to renovate the Oakland Coliseum, replace it all together or move the team began as early as 2009. The Oakland Coliseum is now rated as one of the worst stadiums among NFL teams. I can attest to this fact. I have been to the Coliseum many times and it has needed repairs or a wrecking ball for a very long time. Mark Davis took control of the team in 2011 after his father, Al Davis died. What Al didn’t get to finish in his lifetime his son Mark immediately made first priority. The Raiders followed the Rams’ and the Chargers as the third NFL franchise to move cities in the 2010s.
The Way We Were
I understand why Oakland is upset. The Raiders are a huge draw to the market. Enough is enough though. Attempts to fix the Coliseum situation met with a lot of back and forth, too many promises to count and a long list of plans that never materialized. In all attempts, Raiders were happy to meet other parties at least halfway in negotiations. In some instances it almost gave the ball club away just trying to stay in the Bay area.
All The Ways I’ve Done You Wrong
There was the talk of the Raiders sharing the newly built Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers. That didn’t happen. Discussions ended with 49ers breaking ground on the stadium without the Raiders. In 2013, an abandoned Naval Base in Concord, 26 miles from Oakland was a possible alternative. In 2015, in yet another attempt to stay in the Bay, Raiders talked with Oakland Athletics owner to strike a deal that would create two separate stadiums on the Coliseum site. “Coliseum City,” was a potential plan that would create two new individual stadiums for baseball and football and the Oracle Arena would be rebuilt or renovated extensively. Information revealed later shows Mark Davis levied 20% control of the Raiders team and still a deal was not made. Just when the Raiders thought they were making progress the Athletics extended its lease agreement with Oakland for another 10 years.
The Price You Pay For Love
Keep in mind the Raiders were free to leave Oakland in 2013 but continued to sign one-year lease extensions throughout this lengthy exploration of local site alternatives. If you have ever leased anything you know this is not an economical way to go about it.
Eventually, Mark Davis looked outside of the Bay and found and home in Paradise, Nevada, more commonly called Las Vegas. In April 2016, Raiders made its intentions know to the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and in September 2016, it unanimously approved the Las Vegas stadium plan. In October 2016, Brian Sandoval the Nevada Governor passed Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1. These bills approved a tax increase on hotel stays to create funding for the new stadium.
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
The NFL was hesitant to let the Raiders leave Oakland for Las Vegas because most of the NFL’s revenue comes from TV contracts. With Oakland’s media market size and stability ranked sixth and Las Vegas ranked 42nd I can understand why. Despite the long search for a new home and worries by the NFL, in 2017 Raiders finally broke ground on The Las Vegas Stadium. As I mentioned the team expects to start playing there in 2020 but until then Oakland is the land of Silver and Black and the Coliseum continues to fill with fans. Even probable sudden death by collapsing coliseum doesn’t stop these die-hard fans. Raiders fans aren’t scared of anything. Raider Nation for life!
“We want to bring a Super Bowl championship back to the Bay Area.”~ Mark Davis
So This Is Really Goodbye
It will, however, be a bitter-sweet goodbye. There have been decades of reciprocal love and support between Raiders and the Bay Area. It is a hard pill to swallow. Like a love affair that ends prematurely. Raiders, know that you will be missed.