By Edward Perez
For the Oakland Raiders, it has always been tough to find a place to call home. Having emerged as the home for a professional football team against all odds, Oakland was selected to receive the eighth AFL franchise as a way to appease the demands of Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton, who wanted a second team on the West Coast.
However, when the Raiders began as a franchise in 1960, there were no stadiums in Oakland that were suitable for hosting a football team at the time. As such, Raiders management was unsure about where to look to stage home games. Cal refused to lend Memorial Stadium to the Raiders, leaving the Raiders to look to Kezar Stadium as their first home field. Subsequently, the Raiders were permitted to use Candlestick Park for the final three home games of their first official season.
In 1961, the Raiders were allowed to play exclusively at Candlestick Park. However, one of the team owners, Y. Charles Soda, still threatened to move the Raiders out of the area if a stadium was not built in Oakland to host the Raiders. This threat prompted the Raiders’ move to Frank Youell Field in Oakland from 1962 to 1965.
Later, the Raiders were given the newly built Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as their home stadium, as the Silver and Black played their first game at O.co in 1966. Along with the Raiders, the Kansas City Athletics (founded in Philadelphia as the Philadelphia Athletics) took interest in the new stadium and made a move to The Town, becoming the Oakland Athletics in the process.
Fast forward to the present, and things are still not bright for the Raiders. Oakland has not made the playoffs since 2002, with its lease of the O.co Coliseum expiring at the end of the upcoming season. As such, the Raiders are on the prowl for a new home. Unless the Raiders can come to an agreement with the city of Oakland on a new stadium, Oakland may lose the franchise for the second time in 35 years.
The city of Oakland worries that a new stadium for the Raiders will cost over a billion dollars. As such, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suggested that the Raiders could rent Levi’s Stadium from the San Francisco 49ers, but Raiders owner Mark Davis has rejected the idea.
The A’s, which recently signed a new 10-year lease, but can opt out the deal after 2018 with minimal financial penalties, also factor into the Raiders’ future. This is because negotiations between the city of Oakland and the Raiders have included the possibility of demolishing the O.co Coliseum, which would sabotage the new 10-year lease that the A’s just agreed to.
As one can see, it is a really tricky situation. The A’s were also previously angling for their own stadium in San Jose, but Major League Baseball convinced them of staying in Oakland. In my estimation, the best move for the Raiders seems to be finding a new home outside of Oakland, with Davis strongly pushing for this option.
Los Angeles and San Antonio are at the top of the list for landing the Raiders in the future. In particular, let’s not forgot to mention that the Raiders moved to L.A. in 1982, where they remained until their return to Oakland in 1994.
A recent joint practice between the Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys in Los Angeles drew 8,000 fans, with most in attendance sporting the silver and black; the fans even proceeded to start a chant to bring the Raiders back to L.A. Magic Johnson also believes that Los Angeles is ready to once again for an NFL team should the Raiders opt to return.
Most recently, news has focused on the possibility that San Antonio may have a chance to land the Raiders. On the other hand, Tom Osborn and Josh Baugh, in a report for San Antonio Express News, give insight on why this move may not ultimately happen. For one thing, the town’s beloved NBA franchise, the San Antonio Spurs, are opposed to the Raiders’ possible move to south Texas.
In their report, Osborn and Baugh also highlight the Raiders’ lack of recent success as a potential stumbling block to the move. While the Spurs have won five titles in the last 15 years, the Raiders’ last championship came in 1983. Furthermore, the Raiders have also not made the playoffs since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2002. Therefore, the Silver and Black’s complete implosion over the last decade as a franchise may deter would-be host cities, including San Antonio.
Finally, according to NBC Sports, the Spurs also worry that if the Raiders were to move to San Antonio, the health of the basketball franchise would be undermined by competition in the market for revenue streams like sponsorships, suite rentals and ticket sales.
For now, the Raiders will likely stay at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for one more season. Nevertheless, the franchise will be anxious over what the future holds for them. Regardless of the final outcome, the next few months figure to be filled with contentious debate over the fate of a historic and proud franchise.
Contact Edward Perez at edwardp.nbtb13 ‘at’ gmail.com.