There have been some tears shed in Oakland this week following the NFL announcement that the city’s beloved Raiders will move to Las Vegas in 2020.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Raiders owner Mark Davis say they did everything they could to keep the team in Oakland. But fans aren’t buying it. Many say the Raiders’ departure smacks of unadulterated greed. After all, Sin City taxpayers will be on the hook for a roughly $750 million stadium subsidy – way beyond what East Bay residents were willing to stomach.
Did Oakland drop the ball or was the real reason for the Oakland-Raiders divorce that the billionaire’s club that makes up the NFL ownership simply could not resist the lure of free public money in Las Vegas?
San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Scott Ostler says it was definitely more of the latter. But he also says the Raiders and Mark Davis made a bet that it doesn’t really matter where the team plays.
“One thing that bugs me as observer, I’m not a fan, is that the Raiders and Mark Davis especially – he inherited this from his father, Al – believe that the Raiders transcend their local fan base. That they’re not the Oakland Raiders, they’re the world Raiders, the global Raiders. They could drop their team into Timbuktu and fans would come out of the woodwork to support them because they are the Raiders and they have this international following. And there’s some truth to that,” Ostler says.
“But there’s also a truth to the fact that the Oakland Raiders, the whole mystique of the Raiders, it was a co-creation of Al Davis and the Oakland fan base, which is kind of unique. The Raiders fans have always been known as gritty, hardcore, tough, costumes and all this stuff and bikers and blue-collar. And that’s what helped shape the team and the image, as much as Al Davis and his players.”