Dec 6, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fan Ray Perez aka Dr. Death holds “Stay in Oakland” signs during an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Christmas Eve at the Coliseum could be the final game for the Oakland Raiders in the city with an uncertain future looming.
While much of the attention of the Raider Nation this week has been focused – and rightfully so – on the impending retirement of the great Charles Woodson, another chapter in Raider history could also be coming to a close on Christmas Eve: the Raiders could be playing their final game at O.co Coliseum and in Oakland altogether, with the league set to decide on the future of the NFL in the Los Angeles market in the middle of January.
The Raiders are of course not a lock to move: some reports out of the owners meetings earlier in the month indicated that the owners might be favoring the Rams and hoping to eventually pair the Rams and Chargers in the Los Angeles market. With the NFL exceedingly tight-lipped and intentionally disingenuous with the media and fans about the likelihood of teams moving, it’s hard to believe anything coming out of the mouths of the League or the owners while teams are still playing games.
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There are two important facts we do know, however, that could point to the Raiders moving in the offseason. The City of Oakland has no viable proposal to present to the NFL regarding a new stadium for the Raiders, at least not one that anyone expects them to bring before the December 30th deadline the NFL has established for the three existing cities involved – Oakland, San Diego and Saint Louis – to present plans to build new stadiums for their respective franchises.
The City of Saint Louis, however, just approved a funding bill for a new stadium in that city to keep the Rams in town. That stadium plan, backed by funding from the city and the State of Missouri, will likely be presented to the NFL owners’ committee on Los Angeles on or before the December 30th deadline.
If the NFL approves the Saint Louis plan, it could make it essentially impossible for Stan Kroenke to move his franchise back to Los Angeles, clearing a path for the Raiders and Chargers joint venture in Carson to be approved. That said, many sources in the media are reporting that Stan Kroenke has enough allies among the owners to block the Raiders and Chargers from the Los Angeles market while he tries to torpedo any counter-offers Saint Louis makes to keep his franchise in that city. There have also been some rumors that the NFL would approve the stadium plan, still allow the Rams to move to LA, and then send either the Chargers or Raiders to Saint Louis – an idea which seems farfetched but has been repeated enough times to perhaps have merit.
With the Raiders stadium lease extension up and no apparent talks about another one-year extension, there’s a good chance that, even if the Raiders don’t move to LA, they may be done playing games in Oakland anyway. With the Chargers in town and the Nation preparing to say goodbye to Charles Woodson, it may be a good time to also bless the old Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with one last Raider win.