Sports franchises move all the time. I know this. Anyone who watches and follows sports knows this. Sadly, it has become part of the sports landscape.
Seattle lost the Supersonics to Oklahoma City; St. Louis lost the Rams to Los Angeles; San Diego lost the Chargers to (again) Los Angeles; Cleveland lost the Browns to Baltimore. Examples aren’t hard to come by on this topic, but news earlier this week that the Oakland Raiders would be moving to Las Vegas really bothered me.
Admittedly, it didn’t bother me at first. I wasn’t surprised by the news, just kind of sad that Oakland (a city seeing its own revival still unbeknownst to much of the country) would be losing a core part of its considerable personality with the move. It only bothered me when Golden State Warriors Center/Forward, Draymond Green, gave this opinion about the move:
“I feel bad for the city of Oakland, man,” Green said when asked about the subject after the Warriors’ 113-106 win over the Houston Rockets. “I don’t even know how that’s going to work, honestly, with a football team moving to Las Vegas. I feel bad for the city.
“If I was a fan, I wouldn’t attend a game for the next three years, but that’s just me. That’s ridiculous. No way I would pay my way to attend a game.” – Draymond Green Via ESPN
Seems sincere enough, right? Only, the Warriors are moving across the Bay to San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season. Don’t be fooled, either; yes you can see San Francisco’s silhouette through the fog across the water, and yes you can hop a ferry to San Francisco from Oakland. But that separation, despite its tangible distance, can feel like traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego or Seattle to Portland. When you look at the lower bowl of Oracle Arena, the crowd the last few years doesn’t reflect the demographic of the city of Oakland or the the team on the floor. San Francisco, by contrast, would. Ticket prices are a growing problem in the NBA and in the case of the Warriors move that’s something to keep in mind as they head over to San Francisco.
The abandonment of Oakland, a great American sports town with a rich history of championship teams, continues to show the deep lack of respect for the communities that cheer these franchises on. Bay area native and current ESPN NFL reporter, Jim Trotter tweeted his feelings about the move as such:
Rickey Henderson, Nate Thurmond, Rick Barry, Reggie Jackson, Vida Blue, Ken Stabler, John Madden. The list of legends to have called Oakland home for any time is too long to put here.
Another sad thought: the Oakland Athletics might be next.
For those who have ever been to Oakland and know it’s people and their fans they know they’re a passionate bunch. The argument isn’t as simple as “well if they’re so passionate, why didn’t a stadium deal get done?” Well, public money for private stadiums/arenas has been proven to be a sucker play by sports owners. You won’t find many ‘suckers’ in Alameda County; especially not for over half the cost of the stadium build. Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke knew this, which is why he is paying for his team’s digs; a novel concept in today’s public money cash grab.
So it stands that by 2020 the Raiders will be in Las Vegas and the Warriors will be in San Francisco. And what of Oakland? Hopefully they will still have the A’s.
But even that seems like wishful thinking.