Roughly 400 Raiders fans met with NFL executives at the Paramount Theater in Oakland Thursday night to discuss the expected relocation proposal that the league could address as soon as this season.
The center of some outrage and much disappointment is the possibility that the Raiders could move to southern California and share a building with the Chargers.
It was a back and forth conversation at times, but mostly, fans venting their frustration with the situation. Little flack was aimed at the city or county, some citing crime and education problems among larger issues in Oakland.
Many felt that the league simply hasn’t done enough. The vast economy that is professional football in America is flourishing, and certainly there’s some way the NFL can pony up more cash.
In response to this, the league’s relocation point man, Eric Grubman, fired back essentially telling the crowd that the city and county have been more of an obstacle than partner.
One fan jumped in the mix, calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a coward for not being there, instead sending four league employees, and added:
“Who the hell are you guys fooling right now? Us or yourselves?”
Grubman’s response was simple:
“If this was a waste of time, we wouldn’t be here.”
The proceeding started with a bang, before tapering off, and those who were present for the first hour got quite a show.
Oakland Mayor made an appearance and offered a few lines, none more notable than when she said the Raiders are Oakland’s team, and don’t belong in a “tired suburb” like Carson.
Mark Davis answered a few questions, and entered the mix to applause fit for a hero, a clear fan favorite when it comes to football owners.
Fans made strong and emotional pleas to the powers that be, and even went as far as to propose they raise the extra money to build a new stadium themselves.
Crowdfunding was proposed within the first hour, not long after another speaker called the league out for not forking over some of the billions they bring in every year for the sake of maintaining a good product.
Seat licensing has been a large part of funding stadiums, the 49ers charged as much as $80,000 per license for premium seats, and no less than a few thousand to simply get into the last row of the top deck.
Photos by Marlene Sanchez/SFBay
Between naming rights and the seat licenses, the team raised over $1 billion with relative ease, pretty close to what the Raiders will need to build what they want.
Grubman told the crowd that it would be unfair to ask them to raise capital in that manner, fans pay a lot for tickets and merchandise.
Another fan, though, offered up something that another team is already doing.
Ownership shares of the Green Bay Packers are currently being traded, though there is not return on investment of any kind, fans can buy in and tell their family they own a football team.
The Raiders might take a hard look at following this lead, maybe even the league in general. Sort of like a coaster, or a jacket bought on black Friday, minority ownership of the Oakland Raiders could be stationed under the tree for opening after the Raiders host the Chargers on Christmas eve.
A final yet important argument that fans made to the league, who plan to share their experience with all 32 owners, is that the Raiders simply aren’t as profitable in Los Angeles as they are in Oakland.
Fans cited the willingness of Chargers fans to sell their tickets a few weeks ago when the two teams met in San Diego, and also reference empty seats at the Los Angeles Coliseum in the 1980’s and 90’s.
Fans posed a real question that the league has surely asked themselves: What would be different?
Relocation seems imminent to many, but there is still time for the unusual and extraordinary to happen. Something weird.
Raiders owner Mark Davis hasn’t formally filed for relocation, and the beloved owner got a tremendous level of support from fans, and Davis pumped his fist in the air after one said:
“Oakland is weird. We’re weird. You’re a weird owner. But that’s okay. You’re one of us.”
Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.