Los Angeles Raiders Fans to Hold Another Rally on Saturday


Raider fans rally in Downtown Los Angeles to support the team’s return to the city. 12/20/2014. Photo Credit: Matthew Lorscheider

Raider fans in Los Angeles are planning to hold their second rally in as many months on Saturday, this time near the Los Angeles Coliseum, the stadium that was home to the Raiders from 1982 through 1994. Raider fans gathered previously near Staples Center and the ESPN Studios at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles on the same day that Roger Goodell announced that no team would be moving to Los Angeles for the 2015 Season.

This rally comes in the face of building momentum that Stan Kroenke will be bringing his Saint Louis Rams franchise – the franchise that called the Los Angeles market home for nearly 50 years – to a stadium site that he owns in the City of Inglewood, a working-class suburb along LA’s southwestern edge located near Los Angeles International Airport. Prior to the announcement of Kroenke’s stadium plans, the Raiders and, to a lesser extent, Chargers were considered the favorites to relocate to the vacant market.

Robert Cote, one of the key organizers and administrators of the Facebook page “Bring Back the Los Angeles Raiders,” stated that his team had connected with organizers of a similar Facebook group and organizing effort in Saint Louis to keep the Rams in the city where they won a Super Bowl championship after the 1999 season. According to Cote:

“We feel they have as much right to try and keep them in STL. We feel the same about our Oakland brothers and sisters. Both the Raiders and Rams need to follow the NFL rules on relocation.”

Rams owner Kroenke has been criticized for not thoroughly exhausting options for a new stadium in the Saint Louis market, while Raiders owner Mark Davis has been very thorough in attempting to get a new stadium built in Oakland for his team. However, Cote stated that he and his fellow organizers would not rule out a two-team system in Los Angeles in which the Raiders and Rams shared the market and even potentially shared a stadium.

Cote went on to add that the Bring the Raiders Back to LA organizers had reservations about the potential tax bill that the Inglewood stadium plan would put on the people of Inglewood, a city of just over 100,000 residents with a median household income of under $45,000 a year. He pointed to the AEG-sponsored Farmers Field plan, to be located adjacent to Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, that is planned to result in zero net cost to Los Angeles taxpayers.

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Rams fans in Los Angeles held a rally recently near Staples Center, an event that was attended by roughly 500-600 people per estimates from the organizers of that event. The Rams event was announced well in advance by local TV and radio, and most local TV stations had camera crews on site for the event. Cote and other organizers, as well as many Raider fans in LA, believe that the LA media has an agenda against the Raiders and for the Rams, and points to the uneven coverage of the two rallies: the Raider rally in December did manage to get on local TV, but only after a group of roughly 1,000 Raider fans marched to the front of Staples Center, where an NHL game was taking place. According to Cote:

“They think we are thugs and gangstas. That’s one of the reasons we put on family events, to showcase that we are everyday hard-working middle class citizens. The real truth is, [the] Raiders fan base isn’t what corporate America wants.”

Cote went on to say: “Our numbers will be our media. They might not want to help promote our events but our numbers force them out.” He pointed to the recent Rams rally, and stated that their rally did not have as many people as the Raider rally despite advance media coverage, while the Raider rally organized a larger number of people purely by Facebook and word of mouth.

Despite the seeming rivalry developing between the Raiders and Rams groups, Cote stated that he and his team had reached out to organizers for the Rams fans in an effort to join up and show the NFL that the LA market could support two franchises. He stated that the Rams group responded that they were not interested in teaming up with Raider fans.

Cote closed by saying: “We also want to make clear we are not trying to steal the Raiders out of Oakland. We are making sure LA is their first option if [the] city and the county in Oakland should fail to deliver a new stadium. This is a political move on our part it puts pressure on both city officials to get a deal done with the Raiders organization at the end of the day we just want what’s best for our team.”

There are eight officially recognized Raider Boosters clubs in the Los Angeles media market area, per Raiders.com, as well as a number of unofficial booster groups. While the presidents of the official clubs are not directly involved in the organizing of the Bring the Raiders Back to LA events, the previous event was well-attended by fans representing some of the clubs, notably the Original Los Angeles Raiders Boosters, the Covina Raiders Boosters, and the Raider Nation of South Los Angeles.

The rally, which organizers are calling a “Blackout,” will be held at the University of Southern California Rose Garden at 10 AM on Saturday, according to the Facebook event page. The event is being promoted as both a rally for the football team as well as for the jobs that would be brought by new stadium development and related activity. Organizers have reached out to local labor leaders in the area but the level of involvement by organized labor is unclear at this time. Agenda items listed on the Facebook event page include encouraging fans to enjoy the free museum admission at nearby museums that day and “invest in the LA community.” As of the time this article is being written, the Facebook event page lists 464 people as “Going” and 67 as “Maybe” out of roughly 2,200 people invited to the event.