Somewhere out there, Al Davis is smiling.
Somewhat lost amid the excitement of a fantastic offseason – one of the best the Oakland Raiders have had in some time – and the opening of training camp has been the team’s stadium situation. Perhaps more aptly, the lack of a stadium situation. With little movement and not much to report, Davis’ fight with Oakland’s city council slipped off the front pages. And along with it went the pressure that had been building on Oakland officials to get a deal done. But Mark Davis ran a play that his late father would surely appreciate and got the issue right back to the forefront of everybody’s minds, and newsfeeds, again.
With the Raiders’ lease at the Coliseum set to expire following this season, Davis has been attempting to work with Oakland city officials to get a new stadium deal done – a new stadium dedicated to the Raiders alone, rather than having to share a home field with MLB‘s Oakland A’s. But Oakland’s politicians have engaged in stall tactics, foot dragging and much hand wringing – as politicians are apt to do. The clock is still ticking but nothing has gotten done.
So Davis took a little road trip to Texas.
When it was reported by the San Antonio media that Davis was in town, was meeting with city officials, developers and had even taken an aerial tour – ostensibly, scouting out stadium locations – it made national headlines. Articles written about the Raiders moving to San Antonio began – and continue – to appear everywhere and social media lit up like 10,000 Christmas trees about it. And the fact that Davis has been so coy about his visit has only fanned the flames of speculation that are already burning out of control.
Things have obviously grown so hot that Oakland mayor Jean Quan felt compelled to comment on the issue, saying that progress is being made to keep the Raiders in Oakland – which seems like typical politi-speak designed to give the illusion of movement. Still, it’s clear that Davis’ adventure to the Lone Star State lit a bit of a fire under her.
But if you believe that Davis is seriously interested in relocating the team to San Antonio, I’ve got some land for a stadium in Irwindale I’d like to sell you. The game Davis is playing is one his father played so well for so long – pressure and leverage.
Sure, San Antonio has the Alamo, the Riverwalk and the reigning NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs, but aside from that, what could possibly make it an attractive location for an NFL franchise? It can’t be the lure of lucrative TV deals given the fact that San Antonio boasts just the 37th largest television market – which ranks just slightly above Des Moines and Topeka.
As a viable location for an NFL franchise, San Antonio is lacking. But as a bargaining chip and point of leverage, it’s pretty solid. Playing cities against one another in order to secure a better stadium deal is how NFL franchises get things done today. The threat of so many millions of dollars in lost revenue will make even the slowest moving politician pick up their pace a bit. Just ask Jean Quan.
Even if Davis were genuinely interested in relocating to Texas, he would still face an uphill battle. He would need 24 of the league’s 32 owners to sign off on the deal to approve the move. And given that Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys currently own most of Texas – and the competition for fans and money with the Raiders, who have a sizable fanbase isn’t what Jones would call a good time – he’s unlikely to vote in Davis’ favor. Not to mention the fact that Texas isn’t big enough for Jones’ ego and the Raiders.
Raider fans need not worry. Davis is simply running a play straight from his dad’s playbook. He doesn’t want to leave Oakland any more than the city officials want him to. His trip to Texas was just part of a song and dance we’ve seen a million times before. And when the music stops, a deal will get done to keep the Raiders in Oakland.