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By Tim Hunt

Time to let the Raiders go

Uploaded: Aug 7, 2014

One of the great misnomers is that the Oakland Raiders organization cares about the East Bay.
If you believe that, I have a bridge from Hawaii to China that I am happy to sell you.
When Al Davis abandoned a loyal fan base in the 1990s to seek greater fortune in SoCal, he should have burned his bridges in Alameda County and Oakland forever. He played financially successful games in SoCal—remember Irwindale and the multi-million payment when a stadium was not built. That turned Al's attention back north. Thanks to politicians and other civic boosters, they bought him and the Raiders back.
What happened is a business school case study for a train wreck. The public—Alameda County and the City of Oakland—invested millions to rebuild the Coliseum—greatly irritating the Oakland A's. What's worse is that the deal required the Coliseum authority—through a subsidiary—to sell the tickets—not the team. The pols and others involved in the deal assumed the seat licenses would quickly sell out—Oops.
The Raiders controlled the quality of the product (the team) and the ticket prices—while the pseudo-public agency had to sell the tickets. The monumental problems were predictable.
I was present in a meeting when a Raider marketing official said he could only sign off to promotions that built the brand and were not directed at selling tickets. Yes. That's the deal pols agreed too.
Re-negotiations eventually made the team responsible for ticket sales and thus you have seen increased outreach and promotions to try to fill seats for a team playing pretty poor football most seasons (that's being charitable).
Fast forward to today. Owner Mark Davis has a year left on his lease agreement and the A's—after way too many machinations between pols in Oakland and the county—have reached an agreement on a 10-year lease. Of course, the new 10-year deal with the A's allows the authority to break the lease if there is an agreement to build a football stadium.
That leaves Davis hanging—he can try to make a deal to jointly use the 49ers new stadium in Santa Clara or get out of Oakland. Look for the later .There is precious little chance of a new football stadium in Oakland.
The 49ers move locked up the corporate money in the Silicon Valley and certainly will help their strong base on the Peninsula crowd.
That leaves the Raiders with the tiny Oakland/East Bay corporate community. If you were Workday based in Pleasanton, would your key clients rather go to the Niners or the Raiders—or the A's or the Giants?
Davis was checking out San Antonio, which already has a usable stadium in the Alamodome. He likely would require a new stadium and San Antonio is closer to Dallas and those Cowboys that San Jose is to L.A.
Slip on your business hat and try to consider the Raiders today versus the championship teams that were heavily involved in the community in the 1980s. That's 40 years ago.
Other than the name and the logos, there is almost no similarity between the pre-LA Raiders and the team today. Mark Davis has taken steps improve the operation.
Consider the charitable donations—something foreign to the Raiders. Both the 49ers and the Giants established foundations in 1991 and often routed corporate sponsorship promotions (field goals, touchdowns, etc.) through the foundations. The 49ers have given away $26 million, while the Giants have granted $19 million.
The A's, according to the San Francisco Business Times (the source of these numbers) have given $500K per year. The Raiders have neither a foundation nor a giving program—the San Francisco Business Times lists no total for corporate gifts. In my pretty broad charitable experience, that would be accurate and reflect the interest in the community beyond selling tickets.
To finance a new Oakland football stadium, officials have said there's a funding gap of about $600 million. That would be on top of the more than $100 million that the county and city of Oakland are paying on bonds from the 1995 construction of Mt. Davis on the east side of the Coliseum. Some of the elected officials are asking the right questions about whether pouring hundreds of millions into a facility that is designed to be used 10-12 times per year makes financial or even P.R. sense.
So, other than a bunch of folks who like to dress-up and act out in the end zone, what is the public interest in keeping the Raiders? Bid them adieu and hope the door hits them in the butt as they depart. They have sucked enough out of Alameda County in the last 20 years.