By C.J. Peterson @SFBayCJ
Raider fans have just been duped, dumped and discarded… again.
For the second time in the franchise’s 57-year history, the Raiders will be packing up their things in Oakland and relocating to a new city.
And as a non-Raider supporter looking in, I can’t help but feel bad for their fans — as if the previous shortcomings of the team weren’t enough.
Let’s be honest here, there are already a lot of things to pity in regards to the Oakland Raiders.
Not for the organization or the people who run it, but for those who spend the real money, and devote their lives to the silver and black: the fans.
For one, a 14 year playoff drought that began in 2003 was finally broken this season — along with their starting quarterback’s ankle two weeks before the playoffs, thus derailing the chances of bringing a Lombardi Trophy back to Oakland.
Before that, there was the time when the Raiders became the only franchise to trade away their head coach, only to be beaten by him the very next season in the Super Bowl.
Or how about drafting the quarterback of the future in Jamarcus Russell, the “lean king” himself, who single-handedly slipped his way out of the NFL and is now known as the biggest draft bust in league history.
These blunders have created more turmoil than some franchises have endured in their entire existence, let alone a 15-year span.
But now, more heartbreak has arrived on the doorstep of the home of the “Raider Nation.”
The move, scheduled to take place within the next two years, isn’t like the first time when the team left for Los Angeles. At least then, L.A. was within the same state lines as Oakland and housed nearly 8 million people.
This time, the Raiders are off to “Sin City” itself: Las Vegas, Nev., where the heat stays high, and the permanent population stays low. Way low.
The last U.S. census, conducted in 2013, says that only 603,488 people permanently live in Vegas. That’s only 38 percent of the population of Alameda County, where most current Raider fans reside.
On top of that, the Raiders are now moving from the Bay Area, the No. 6 market in the United States, to Las Vegas, a 34-place drop-off to the No. 40 market within the country.
And what is this all for? Not the better good of the surrounding community or the satisfaction of the fans, which the NFL says they value over profit and monetary gain.
Instead, it’s the reciprocal of that: dollar signs valued over the fans who, in reality, pay for it all.
For over a decade and with two different mayors, the Raiders organization has made attempts to stay in Oakland, specifically on the public’s dime.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the Raiders already have landed a $650 million loan from Bank of America. On top of that, the team has another $300 million from the Davis family and an additional $200 million loan from the NFL.
This money alone would be enough for the Raiders to build a new stadium in Oakland. But what makes Las Vegas the stand out location for the NFL is the extra $750 million in public funding that will come from a hotel tax in Clark County, Nev.
That extra $750 million is simply too much to turn down for the NFL, which is why the owners voting to move the Raiders to Las Vegas resulted in a staggering 31-1 outcome.
The saddest part of all this, though, is that a fan base that has paid for and stuck by the Raiders through some of the lowest points of the franchise’s history, will have the team in Oakland for two more seasons while knowing the inevitable move is on the horizon.
That’s like being broken up with by a girlfriend who says, “I’m still going to be living with you until my new boyfriend builds our new house in two years.”
When you break it down, teams have two major sources of income: personal seat licenses (PSLs) and TV contracts.
And fans pay for both of these cash cows.
PSLs are an idea that was originally coined by former Oakland Raider owner, Al Davis. The concept is that season ticket holders must pay a personal seat-licensing fee in order to reserve their rights to the seat in the future.
TV money on the other hand, is the cash that flows in from cable companies that broadcast games to local and national fans.
A new deal that was signed in 2016, which incorporated contracts with NBC, CBS and FOX, guarantees roughly $3 billion to be paid to the league annually among the three global conglomerates.
Guess where all of that money from this comes from? Consumers of the NFL, who purchase cable packages to watch their favorite teams play.
The fact of the matter is that while the move looks good on paper for everyone else involved, it’s the same fans that have fronted the bill for 57 years who are going to suffer the most.
And in the least condescending and patronizing way possible, I feel bad for the “Raider Nation.” No fanbase deserves this, especially not twice.