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2013 A Critical Year For Future Of Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders as a franchise have reached the crossroads. The post Al Davis era has been ushered in with change in every possible way.

More than half of the roster, almost the entire coaching staff and front office were restructured. And now for good measure even the very stadium in which the Raiders play is being restructured.

The Oakland Raiders are changing in every way possible and that change is coming to a head in 2013.

Don’t look now but the path is being paved for this franchise to once again depart the East Bay. Entering the final year of their lease with the O.co Coliseum the Oakland Raiders have some serious decisions to be made in the coming months.

There have been no secrets that the franchise seeks a new venue. There has also been constant talk of the team’s desire to remain in Oakland indeed in the very same area in which they reside.

That might very well be the truth but the reality is that getting a new stadium built won’t be an easy feat. The city of Oakland, like most of California, is in a budget crisis. The Raiders simply don’t have the capital to fund a private project of their own.

Something has got to give.

What’s a given is that the NFL will eventually return to Los Angeles. Whether or not the Raiders are a possible candidate for re-re-location remains to be seen. Then again, L.A. isn’t the only option for the Raiders. Moving across the Bay is something that could come to fruition as well.

What we know for sure is that the Silver and Black are struggling to keep fans in the seats. You don’t drop your attendance nearly 10,000 below the lowest level in all of pro football unless there is some serious concern over the fan base losing interest in a subpar product.

By lowering the bar the Raiders are in essence waving the white flag. They know the knowledgeable and faithful fans that comprise Raider Nation were unsatisfied by the first season under the new regime. They also know more and more NFL fans as a whole are tuning in instead of buying tickets. Combine the two elements and watch as the perfect storm brews in The Bay.

Beyond the business aspects the product on the field is also at a breaking point. Reggie McKenzie might only be entering his second year on the job but given the results of 2012 it looks as if the Raiders could be entering their second decade of rebuilding.

Two .500 seasons were enough to raise the hopes of football’s most faithful fans. Then a return to 11+ loss football sucked the life out of those same fans. The Raiders response was to cut the number of tickets available to their fans.

You do the math and connect the dots here. It’s another year or five of rebuilding it would appear.

But the doom and gloom will be forgotten of something happens to make us all forget that these are troubling times. Unfortunately that magic cannot happen during the offseason. More contract conundrums and cap constraints will make for another minimalist offseason. So that means all of us, the front office included, are waiting for the 2013 regular season to begin. Make no mistake, this is a season that could very well determine the future of the franchise.

The Raiders can’t keep cutting seats and Raider Nation can’t be asked to keep sinking money into an inferior product. This franchise it at the crossroads and just which direction it goes will largely be determined by what happens in the next 8 months.

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