The Los Angeles Raiders. Sure, it’s better than the San Antonio Raiders, but it still doesn’t sound quite right.
For me, the Oakland Raiders is the only name that will ever ring true.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the past few years about the Raiders packing up and leaving town for a second time. O.co Coliseum is regarded by many to be one of the worst homes for a professional sports team in this country, and with the Raiders’ lease of the facility set to expire at the end of the 2014 season, it’s no surprise that the team is exploring its options.
Thirty-two years have passed since Al Davis took his beloved Raiders to L.A. While many die-hard fans rejoiced when the team returned to Oakland in 1995, a sense of abandonment and bitterness remained with the Oakland fan base. Those feelings faded over the 19 years since the team’s return, but as seen by the fans’ reaction to talks of another move—first back to L.A. then to San Antonio, Texas of all places—they never truly disappeared.
Future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson echoed these sentiments during training camp when he spoke to CSNBayArea.com.
“I think it would be devastating,” Woodson said. “It’s happened once before and a lot of people are still bitter about that, and I think it would be doubling down on that bitterness if they were to leave again. I think it’d be tough for the city of Oakland.”
Another move by the Raiders would be devastating to their fans and to the city they’ve called home for so many years, but the sad truth is the NFL doesn’t deal in sentiment. The NFL deals in money, and when it comes to economics and business it doesn’t matter what the Raider Nation wants.
And money isn’t just an issue for the NFL, it’s also an issue for the Raiders and for tax payers.
From the NFL’s perspective, a Raiders return to L.A. would be beneficial on multiple fronts. Above all, it would give the league something it’s sorely wanted since the early 90s—a franchise with which to exploit the second largest market in the country. Combine the Raiders’ profitability and its past history in L.A. and it’s almost a no brainer for the NFL.
On the other end of the spectrum, staying in Oakland would cost a hefty penny for the Raiders and for the city itself. There are reports that the Raiders’ ideal stadium—a 50,000 seat complex built in the vicinity of the existing coliseum— would cost anywhere from $800,000 million to $1 billion and that the Raiders are willing to foot only $300,000 of that bill. The rest would have to put on the tab of taxpayers in the area, and that doesn’t include additional costs for the demolition of the existing coliseum and the construction of infrastructure to compliment a new stadium.
It’s unlikely that taxpayers in Oakland are eager to pay those costs, leaving private funding as the only plausible answer for keeping the Raiders in Oakland.
If the Raiders do end up leaving Oakland, I’ll still root for them. They’ll still be my team, but there’s no denying that things would feel different. L.A. wouldn’t be so bad, especially considering an alternative like the Raiders becoming a Texas team, but I, along with countless other fans, would be sad to see the Raiders gone from Oakland.
The Raiders are all about tradition. They were built from a commitment to excellence and have carved a place for themselves in American Football history, and I would love to see them expand that tradition in the city where it all began. Long live the Oakland Raiders.