Raiders fans say they will travel to Vegas if necessary

The consensus is in: nobody wants the Raiders to move, but they would all travel if necessary.

Wandering the the Coliseum parking lot more than two hours in advance of their season opener versus the Falcons, countless fans told SFBay the same story. And nobody offered up a reasonable financial plan that hasn’t already been discussed.

Kyle, who spent the last two years of his life in Iraq, told SFBay that one of the major issues with Las Vegas is that fans would be seriously limited in tailgating, as he pointed out the countless tents, grills, and coolers full of beer:

“Look at all this! What are they going to do? You can’t get all this in Las Vegas. Sure, I could get some of this while dropping five dollars on the slots. But look at all this. This is why the Raiders need to stay. I don’t know these guys. But here we are, chilling like best friends.”

Kyle’s sentiment wasn’t singular. It was like the chorus to a Nate Dogg jam — dominating and clear.

Longtime Raiders fans Juan and Vanessa Viveros flew down from Portland, from where they said they recently moved. They said others on the flight were headed for the Coliseum:

“This is home.”

Viveros was one the only person who spoke with SFBay who couldn’t guarantee he would travel to Vegas, despite having friends in town and a place to stay.

Another Raiders fan sporting shades and a brown and silver goatee said he believed that the team could generate enough revenue to build in Oakland by selling more expensive seat licenses, with which others in a group of four agreed with.

Coupled with a small tax increase, they said, the Raiders would be able to stay.

The problem, though, is that stadium construction costs have increased dramatically over the last decade; the Rams’ new stadium in Inglewood is expected to cost $2.6 billion.

The Las Vegas stadium would cost an estimated $1.9 billion, and the Raiders would only be able to devote roughly $600 million — leaving a sizable gap in funding.

The 49ers were successful in building Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and using seat licenses to make up a very large portion of the project, but a high number of fans feel alienated by the extraordinarily high price they were forced to pay.

One fan in a group of several who spoke candidly with SFBay said that he’d be willing to pay twice what he currently does for the season — $600 per seat, which would become $1,200.

That wouldn’t close the gap.

The 49ers sold rights to some premium sections of Levi’s upwards of $80,000, and that didn’t include the cost of tickets. “SBL” stands for “stadium builders license,” a means to accrue the financing necessary to build a new venue.

The worst seats in the house cost around $4,000 for the license, plus more for the tickets. The SBL marketplace operated by the 49ers now has the license for a pair of seats in section 422, arguably the worst in the house, for $450 each.

Lower level end zone licenses are now selling for around $20,000 on the marketplace, and that’s steeply discounted.

If Raiders fans really wanted to pick up the tab, and owner Mark Davis has argued vehemently against making fans pay such a prohibitive amount, they could expect to pay from $10,000 to $80,000 just for the right to then pay a large number to pay for their tickets.

The licenses are eligible for resale, but it’s a pill that is hard to swallow for the movers and shakers that help decide the fate of the Raiders’ next home.

The San Francisco Giants managed to build one of the most attractive parks in the country for an inflation-adjusted amount of $600 million. Many fans who got in early and sold their licenses after one of three World Series’ wins managed to make a substantial profit.

Some are selling for six figures on the Giants’ marketplace.

There’s no guarantee, though, which is what scares Davis, Mark Badain and others involved in the process.

Fans say they’ll pony up a lot more than they’re currently paying, which could be encouraging. If only the Raiders were better a few years ago, and the team could have made a larger profit.

A stadium in Las Vegas has reached the final stages of the legislative process, and the potential move will likely be voted on during the NFL owner’s meetings late in the winter.

Until then, though, fans are pledging to do as much as they can. And if it’s not enough, they’ll hop a plane — even if it’s not ideal.


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 Raiders football.