The NFL is actively trying to move back into the Los Angeles market, which has been vacant since 1995, and the Oakland Raiders are among the teams that could be slotted back into the area, fifteen years after they left. The league is so invested in the idea that they’re considering financing a new stadium themselves, something that, quite simply, is not done under normal operating circumstances. As for Oakland, which seems perpetually stuck in limbo regarding NFL necessary updates to the O.Co Coliseum and the passionate support of their Bay Area fanbase, this is just the second most offensive idea — the worst being the idea that the team would move in with the San Francisco 49ers in their new arena in Santa Clara.
“Whatever gets us a team in L.A., that would be awesome,” Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, told The Los Angeles Times. “Whatever it takes, I know I’d be willing to support.” The paper went on to detail a relatively tight timeline for how the whole process would play out should a team be moved, the crux of the matter falling on how to avoid a dead season while still having time to sell season tickets to fans in the new market. The result? The last two weeks in January. If anything goes down at all, it won’t be revealed until then.
While the NFL has already had two and a half teams crash and burn in Los Angeles already, the presence of a professional football team playing in the country’s second largest city has an unmistakable allure for the league office, an allure that usually manifests itself right now as a convenient bit of extortion when it comes time to ask communities for more money to build new stadiums. If the Raiders move to L.A., they will not be forced to cohabitate with another team — one of the main reasons they moved back to Oakland in ’95.
Comparing two situations that took place nearly two decades apart will have inevitable problems, and the Raiders ownership has, at least publicly, never considered leaving Oakland for another destination. That said, it’s hard to envision another team that’s so suited to a quick move, especially given the quagmire that has developed between the Oakland Athletics, the Raiders, and the city itself.
The ongoing legal battle that’s developed over the A’s new lease, which is set to be for ten years at the current O.Co Coliseum, is labyrinthine, but essentially this is what’s happening: The MLB wants to move the A’s to San Jose, the NFL wants to knock down the O.Co and build a football-only stadium on the site, and the city of Oakland wants the A’s to build a new, separate stadium in their city — something they contend has never been in the baseball team’s plans. To further complicate matters, there are fears that a long-term lease signed by the A’s could “force out the Raiders without securing a commitment from [A’s co-owner Lew] Wolff to build in Oakland,” per the San Jose Mercury News.
This time last year Victor Matheson, a Holy Cross economics professor, was asked about the likelihood of an LA move for the silver and black and concluded that the team’s chances of staying in Oakland were were bleak. “It sucks to be an Oakland Raiders fan—not a Raiders fan, but an Oakland Raiders fan,” Matheson said. One year later, and not much has changed.