OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – On Monday night, the Raiders kicked off what could be their last season in Oakland if the city follows through on a lawsuit that has the team threatening to leave sooner than planned.
From the heartbreaking move to Los Angeles in 1982 to the latest angst over the team relocating to Las Vegas, Raider fans are used to facing the impending loss of the East Bay favorites.
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It seems no Raider season is complete without some sort of drama. This latest threat to leave at the end of the season if the city sues them to stay in Oakland is no exception.
At issue, according to Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, is that the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas will leave taxpayers holding the bag for millions in stadium improvements
“An investment of over $200 million that the citizens of Oakland made to have a professional Raider football team,” said Gallo.
Coliseum Authority head Scott McKibben said the Raiders were in the midst of negotiating a extension on their lease in Oakland for them to play here until their new Las Vegas stadium is ready, but that changed with the threat of a lawsuit.
“If there is a lawsuit filed, they have no intention of staying,” said McKibben.
So far, the city is not backing down.
“The way that Marc Davis has treated city has been shameful. And if they don’t play another day here, so be it,” replied Gallo.
But an early Raider exit will come at a cost. For starters, the team pays about three million a season in rent. Then there are the jobs and concessionaires.
“We employ over 3,000 people on game days,” said McKibben. “There’s a loss of jobs, there’s a loss of sales tax, loss of other economic impact to the community.”
Despite the possible losses, it seems to be a price Oakland officials are ready to pay.
“As far as I’m concerned, I represent the citizens and we want compensation,” said Gallo.
But stay or go, for many fans, it’s all just part of being a Raider fan.
“This is a game. We fans, you know?” said Raider supporter Mandel Gross.
“Where ever they go, we follow,” said fan Rommel Rally.
Some possible Bay Area locations where the Raiders could play out the rest of their time prior to their Las Vegas stadium being complete are Spartan Stadium at San Jose State and Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, which was actually built to accommodate two home teams.
Or the team could what it often has done and change their minds, deciding to play out another season in Oakland next year and make the Raider Nation happy.