NFL Musical Chairs

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Movin’ on Up?

Image Credit: nbclosangeles.com

The big news from the NFL this week was the league owners’ approval of the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas. This makes the Raiders the 3rd team in the past 2 seasons to receive league approval to relocate. Some folks are excited about the news, others are obviously upset. Some of the negative response isn’t so much from Raider fans, but from an overall general disapproval of all this recent movement among NFL teams.

Relocation in the modern NFL era is nothing new. The Raiders moved to L.A. in ’82. The Colts slipped out of town on a snowy Baltimore night to Indy in ’84. The Cardinals left St. Louis for Phoenix in the late eighties. The nineties saw a ton of team movement as well. Following the ’94 season the Rams left L.A. to replace the Cardinals in St. Louis, and the Raiders followed suit by returning to Oakland. A year or so later the Browns skipped out of Cleveland to bring pro football back to Baltimore. Lastly, the Oilers closed out the decade of relocation by dumping Houston for Tennessee of all places.

From here the league enjoyed nearly 20 years of location stability. That all changed last year when this bizarre looking billionaire moved his St. Louis Rams back to Los Angeles.

Stan Kroenke: Image Credit: ibtimes.co.uk

Then last month, the San Diego Chargers announced they too were moving to L.A. And now….we know the Raiders are moving to Sin City, effective 2019-2020.

Raider’s owner Mark Davis, son of the late, infamous Al Davis, will take on huge criticism for moving his beloved team away from the loyal fans of Oakland. I’m here to tell you that Davis’ decision pales in comparison to what the scarf-wearing Stan Kroneke did.

Many folks (outside of St. Louis of course) viewed the Rams move as simply a homecoming. The Rams were returning to the city they’d played the majority of their years in. The thing is, Kroneke bought the St. Louis Rams, not the L.A. Rams. He had no connection or history to Los Angeles. His Rams played in a stadium, that although outdated by modern NFL standards, was no where near as outdated and under serving as those the Raiders and Chargers played in. What’s more, the city of St. Louis ponied up the financial backing for a brand new, state-of-the-art, football-only stadium for his Rams. He didn’t need to move the team back to L.A. His motivation was greed. Nothing more. The second-largest market in America had gone 20 years without an NFL team, and Stan wanted to tap that hibernating resource.

Image Credit: nflus.ru

I won’t waste much time talking about this. Let’s translate that image by saying, “Bad idea.” According to Chargers owner Dean Spanos, he tried and tried to get a new stadium deal in San Diego, and the city and county just wouldn’t play nice with him. There’s no question the Chargers needed a new stadium. Jack Murphy Stadium was built in the mid-60s, and was vastly lacking the amenities required of a modern NFL stadium. Yet to say there was no way to get a new stadium in San Diego, well tell that to the San Diego Padres. They stopped playing baseball at The Jack several years ago when they successfully worked with the San Diego community to construct Petco Park, their new baseball stadium…….in San Diego.

Raiders Owner, Mark Davis: Image Credit: sportsnet.ca

Which leads me back to this. I’m a traditionalist. I’m not big into change when it comes to sports. I don’t like when teams move and abandon their loyal fanbases. Yet in this case, I absolutely 100% support Mark Davis’ decision to move the Raiders. I did not agree when his father moved the Raiders to L.A. in 1982. The Oakland Coliseum was only 14 years old at the time. Much like Stan Kroneke’s move last year, Al Davis’ move to L.A. was also out of pure greed. When Al moved his Raiders back to Oakland in 1995, the Oakland Coliseum was then 27 years old. No big deal right? Fast forward 22 more years. The Coliseum is now pushing 50 years old, and the Raiders are still playing there. Not only is it the worst venue in American professional sports, the Raiders don’t even have the dump to themselves……they share it with the Oakland A’s of Major League Baseball.

When I was a kid nearly half of the pro baseball teams shared venues with NFL teams. Today, only the Raiders still share a stadium with a baseball team. Right or wrong, it’s not what the NFL wants. It’s not what MLB wants.

When Al Davis moved the Raiders back to Oakland, the community had 14 years to work on a new stadium agreement with him before he died. They’ve had the past 8 years to work on it with Mark Davis. This isn’t exclusive to the Raiders. The aforementioned A’s, much like the Raiders, continue to play baseball in what is MLB’s worst, most sub-standard venue. Add to that, the Golden State Warriors play in one of the oldest basketball arenas in the NBA (located in Oakland, next to the Coliseum). The Warriors are moving next season to a brand new arena on the other side of the bay in San Francisco.

Point being, when you connect all the dots, the clear common denominator in all of this is the city of Oakland. There are those who say Oakland is broke. Its schools are broke. Their public safety services are underfunded. Why should they put a dime into entertainment venues? I agree wholeheartedly! They shouldn’t! But here’s the deal……sports teams are not a community service. They don’t belong to the public. Like it or not, they’re a business. If one community can no longer afford that luxury, a business owner has the right to move his business to a community that can.

As I said, I don’t normally agree with teams relocating, but in the case of the Raiders organization, I believe they tried to make this work. Oakland failed Raiders fans, not Mark Davis. Enjoy your new digs Raider Nation!

Image Credit: nbcbayarea.com

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