The Raiders announced their relocation to Las Vegas on Monday, leaving fans such as myself heartbroken. One of my earliest memories as a Raider fan is taking the BART to my first ever football game with my dad.
I was nine or 10 years old then, and the Raiders were playing their rival the Denver Broncos at the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders ended up losing that game, badly, but the atmosphere and camaraderie of their fans was truly special.
I even witnessed some drunk Raider fans beat the crap out of some cocky Bronco fans that day! These are the memories I’ll cherish once they officially leave.
According to CSN Bay Area analyst Ray Ratto, the Raiders have had the third worst record in the National Football League, behind the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, since they moved back from Los Angeles to Oakland in 1995.
Despite all the lousy seasons and the carousel of unqualified coaches the Raiders have hired and fired since, and despite being the laughing stock of the league for a decade, the East Bay fan base stood by the team. We cheered our asses off no matter what the team’s record was, no matter what relocation rumors surfaced in the media. Despite our undivided loyalty, owner Mark Davis failed to reciprocate that same loyalty to the Raider nation.
Don’t get me wrong, the NFL is a business and the Raiders have needed a new stadium for years now.
The Oakland Coliseum is a dump. It’s old, it’s cold and it’s the only stadium in all of sports that houses two pro sports teams. Davis is the least wealthy NFL owner and not being able to make money in a rising Bay Area market and economy has to make us question his competence, but that’s a story for another day.
He tried to hold the city of Oakland and its citizens hostage by asking taxpayers to fund the stadium. He tried to get the Oakland A’s booted out the out of the city and the Coliseum so the NFL could purchase the property and build a new stadium on the site all for themselves.
Since he took over the team after his father died, Mark Davis has had one foot out of the door, using cities such as San Antonio, Carson City and Los Angeles as leverage. He got his wish, and the love affair between Bay Area Raider fans and the Raiders is on borrowed time now.
Bottom line: the decision to move to Las Vegas was all about the mulah. If Mark Davis and the NFL really wanted to get a stadium deal done in Oakland, they could have. Money talks however and Vegas has $750 million of public money coming from hotel taxes that the city of Oakland doesn’t have. It sucks, but it is what it is.
So what happens next?
The Raiders will awkwardly call Oakland home for the next 1 to 3 years while the stadium in Vegas is being built. I don’t even know if I can root for them while they play out their remaining time here, but I for damn sure won’t be a fan when they move to Las Vegas.
The worst part about this whole situation is the Raiders are FINALLY contenders again. After years of waking up to watch quarterbacks like Andrew Walter and Kerry Collins throw the ball to the other team, after watching Randy Moss walk his routes in 2006, after watching Jamarcus Russell stink up the joint, we Raider fans finally get a team we deserve.
And just like that, they are gone.
I think I speak for all Bay Area Raider fans when I say this:
F*** you, Mark Davis.