In an effort to force Oakland to build a new stadium for the Raiders, owner Mark Davis has had talks with San Antonio political leaders and there are once again rumors that the Raiders are on the move.
It was a big deal when the Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1981 because, to that point, they were one of the NFL’s most successful franchises and the only major league team that had started in Oakland. It was still a big deal when the Raiders returned in 1995. I was among those eager to see the Raiders back. I had strong ties to the Raiders, having covered them, 1967-71.
Now, though, the franchise has been driven down by seriously bad decisions by Al Davis before his death. They are winless and possibly on their way to an 0-16 mark. And, Oakland and Alameda County residents are still paying for changes made to the Coliseum when they returned in 1994.
As if that’s not enough, we know that a pro football team does little to bring money to a city. That’s why then San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom wouldn’t even answer the phone calls of 49ers owner John York when he was trying to put together a public-private financing plan to build a new stadium at Candlestick Point. Newsom knew the city would not benefit very much from a new stadium.
By contrast, a baseball team often brings a lot of money into a city. To understand why, you have to look at the patterns of fans.
Baseball fans often spend money at local bars and restaurants, before and after games – and the baseball schedule is much longer than football’s. Fans who come substantial distances to games will stay over at local hotels, eat at restaurants and often buy at local stores.
In contrast, football fans spend almost nothing away from the game. They tailgate before games and leave afterwards.
I first became conscious of this pattern in 1980, when Oakland mayor Lionel Wilson wanted to take money from a proposed deal to move the A’s to Denver to try to keep the Raiders in Oakland. The A’s were in disarray because, with free agency, owner Charlie Finley couldn’t keep star players. The Raiders, of course, had been consistently successful. Yet, when I talked to restaurant owners and the manager of the Edgewater Hotel, they were unanimous in saying they’d rather the A’s were the team that stayed, not the Raiders.
That’s why I’ve long supported the idea of a new park for the A’s. Of course, Lew Wolff doesn’t want that because he still dreams of moving to San Jose. He even refused the offer of local businessmen who offered to pay for a new park. Of course, if the Raiders moved, the Coliseum could be remodeled into a much better baseball park.
What’s more likely is that nothing will change. Major league baseball owners are not about to challenge the Giants territorial claim to San Jose, written into their agreement in 1993, so the A’s will stay.
The sensible move for the Raiders would be to move to Santa Clara to share a stadium with the 49ers. But if they do that, they’d have to leave that ridiculous shrine to Al Davis behind.
They won’t be moving to San Antonio. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a lot of power in NFL circles and he is vehemently opposed to putting an NFL team in San Antonio, which is currently a very important part of the Cowboys fan base.
The NFL controls the Los Angeles area and wants to put two teams in there. But the Raiders won’t be one. Al Davis burned a lot of bridges when he came back to Oakland. The only fans left are those out on parole.
So, Mark, quit whining. If you want a new stadium, move to Santa Clara. Otherwise, you’re staying put.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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