Opinion: Oakland Raiders Relocation is a Foregone Conclusion


Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fans tailgate while holding signs the read “Stay in Oakland” before the NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL owners meeting in San Francisco this week to discuss – among other things – the NFL’s future in Los Angeles, groups in three markets whose teams are in play for the nation’s second-largest market are scrambling to find a way to give their home team a new stadium. Saint Louis, with the youngest existing stadium of the three, appears to be well on their way to approving a heavily state-funded new stadium in order to keep the Rams in town, despite Stan Kroenke’s plans for a stadium on a parcel he owns in Inglewood. San Diego stadium talks have progressed rapidly since the February announcement of a joint Raiders-Chargers stadium plan for Carson, though nothing concrete has emerged.

And then there is Oakland. Oakland, the third-largest city in the nation’s sixth-largest market, has been in one way or another negotiating with the Raiders regarding a new stadium ever since the franchise returned in 1995. As the Raiders lease on the aging O.co Coliseum began to run out in the past few years, talks regarding the future of the site, and of the team in Oakland, have escalated.

There was brief noise about the Raiders moving to Santa Clara to share Levi’s Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers, which has since abated. There has been the long-running plan promoted by various politicians in Oakland and Alameda County for “Coliseum City,” a massive mixed-use development that would center two new stadiums for baseball and football in a complex of retail, entertainment and housing – or just a football stadium, or just a baseball stadium, depending on who you’re asking.

More from Las Vegas Raiders News

Raiders owner Mark Davis, since inheriting the team, has repeated over and over again that he wants to remain in Oakland, while all the while openly flirting with almost every potential stadium plan LA has had to offer in that time as well as at least one other city (San Antonio). He, like Stan Kroenke and Dean Spanos, is obligated by the NFL to exhaust negotiations in his existing market in good faith – both Kroenke and Spanos are saying all the same things. But no other owner has presented himself to the league to be as malleable and cooperative regarding relocation to Los Angeles as Mark Davis has. It’s abundantly clear that Davis, like Kroenke and Spanos, and perhaps even moreso, wants Los Angeles.

News reports have come fast and furious in the past week that spell almost certain doom for the future of the Oakland Raiders. Just yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that talks between the Raiders and Oakland officials were “gurgling blood” in large part because of Davis’ insistence that the existing Coliseum be torn down immediately upon agreement to a new stadium deal – which would force the MLB’s Oakland A’s out of town. Stadium talks in Oakland have frequently seemed to pit the A’s and Raiders against each other in a “only one can remain” scenario, a scenario that many agree the A’s would win (82 games a year is a lot more economic activity than 10).

The City of Oakland and County of Alameda, entities that are awfully strapped for cash, don’t have the money to pony up, and despite financier Floyd Kephart’s insistence to the contrary, private funders for a stadium project have not emerged. Finally, and most fatally, the Coliseum City plan involves using the sale of housing units to drive profit, a model that the NFL is opposed to.

Live Feed

Steelers legend Franco Harris passes away at 72
Steelers legend Franco Harris passes away at 72 /


  • JaMarcus Russell: Self-proclaimed biggest NFL Draft bustNFL Spin Zone
  • Madden 23 rookies: Every Round 1 pick in the 2022 NFL DraftApp Trigger
  • Former Detroit Lions executive reveals backup plan if Calvin Johnson had been goneSideLion Report
  • Madden 23: Predicting this year's cover athleteApp Trigger
  • 30 greatest players to never win a Super BowlFanSided
  • Meanwhile relocation to Los Angeles for the Raiders is gaining steam. The City of Carson, a suburb of Los Angeles, approved construction of a football stadium on a vacant site in that city, a stadium site chosen, purchased, and promoted by a joint venture between the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers

    Just yesterday the joint venture announced they had hired former NFL executive, minority owner and league influence heavyweight Carmen Policy (who was instrumental in bringing the expansion Browns back to Cleveland after the original Browns moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens). Policy is expected to present the Carson stadium plan to the NFL owners meeting this week.

    This morning it was reported that the Raiders and Chargers joint venture had completed a land transaction on the stadium site that transferred control of the land to a joint powers agency for the purpose of readying it for stadium construction. This was a crucial step in advancing the Carson plan, one that the competing Inglewood plan has not yet completed. The Carson plan is now the most fully-advanced stadium plan that Los Angeles has seen in over 20 years, and much farther along than any plan in an existing market, save perhaps for the Saint Louis riverfront stadium plan. The San Francisco Examiner’s Thom Fain stated that “Carson officials are driving the pace car” in the race for a new stadium.

    Of course the Raiders are not completely wedded to Carson, either. Peter King of Sports Illustrated has suggested that Stan Kroenke, one of the NFL’s wealthiest owners, may move his team to his Inglewood site despite an existing plan for Saint Louis – and the Raiders would then move into Saint Louis’ new stadium.

    While this defies logic to some degree, Davis and Kroenke have been seen together publicy, suggesting the two may have had some talks about other options, like Kroenke selling the Rams and buying the Raiders to move to Inglewood, or perhaps the Raiders and Rams sharing an Inglewood stadium if the Chargers end up remaining in San Diego. And let’s not forget that the City of San Antonio were very recently on their knees begging Mark Davis to move there.

    Live Feed

    The Aces are under the microscope, and now the WNBA is too
    The Aces are under the microscope, and now the WNBA is too /


  • Mark Davis should stand by complaints with Josh McDaniels decisionFanSided
  • Mark Davis reportedly upset that rival fans keep packing Allegiant StadiumFanSided
  • Las Vegas Raiders make historic hire with new Team PresidentNFL Spin Zone
  • 5 reasons the Raiders may have passed on signing Colin KaepernickNFL Spin Zone
  • Raiders organization reportedly imploding, per former employeesFanSided
  • The fact of the matter is that Oakland is, for Mark Davis, simply no longer a viable site for his business. The team has struggled with attendance at O.co Coliseum for years now, needing to essentially close down the “Mount Davis” upper deck seating section in order to avoid weekly TV blackouts. The team struggles to get top-tier corporate sponsors, generates paltry sums from season ticket revenue, and has to share a massive piece of concessions and parking revenue with the Oakland A’s, who are the primary leaseholder on the Coliseum. A brand new, football-only stadium in Oakland or somewhere in the East Bay would be a major improvement, but Davis would still have to compete for sponsors and fans with the San Francisco 49ers in a market that is arguably not big enough to justify two NFL franchises.

    Meanwhile, his team has a massive following in Southern California and an established history in Los Angeles. He knows this, and he knows that even if he does share the LA market with the Chargers or Rams, the Los Angeles market is 2.2 times the size of the Bay Area market (based on Neilsen’s TV Household DMA rankings). Leaving Oakland for a smaller market like San Antonio or Saint Louis might be a dramatic step down, but at least he wouldn’t have to share and he’d have a brand new stadium.

    There is still some hope for Oakland. Floyd Kephart, the San Diego financier who claims to have a plan to finance the Raiders new stadium in Oakland, has until June 21st to show the City and County his financing plan and get them on board. If the plan is indeed viable, the NFL and the Raiders may be interested. But this seems like a longshot, since Kephart’s plan would have to fundamentally change the structure of the Coliseum City proposal. Barring some unforeseen miracle of private finance or a draconian power move by the NFL, the Oakland Raiders seem destined to become the Some Other City Besides Oakland Raiders as soon as 2016. While the Raiders to LA is certainly not a done deal, the Raiders leaving Oakland just might be.