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I came across something very interesting on the NFL Network the other day. It was the "A Football Life" episode on the Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore. I really felt a new respect for the City of Cleveland and their fans.If you notice the episode on sometime take time out to watch it, you wont be disappointed. The Browns fans heartbreak is a direct connection that many Raiders fans can relate to after having gone through a relocation as well.
Oakland lost the Raiders to LA and got them back 13 years later from but the team once again is feeling the tug of a possible relocation. Thankfully it is more theory than fact that the Raiders are interested in leaving again for Southern California.
The show about Cleveland losing the Browns made me think of the Oakland Raiders stadium situation and how gut wrenching of a feeling it would be for local fans to see the team move to LA again. There is still a possibility that the same tortured fans that stayed tough the first time the Raiders left may have to go through losing their beloved team all over again. I don't think It's likely to happen, though. The City of Oakland is doing everything they can to build a new stadium to house the Raiders and keep them where they belong. The city council has a plan in place and approved funding to upgrade their entertainment district in an attempt to keep the Raiders in town.
A move to LA for a second time would be the end of a lifetime love for many Bay Area fans who already suffered losing their local team once. There would be scores of fans putting down their Raiders gear forever. It definitely would be an example of the old saying "Fool me once shame on you, but fool me twice then its shame on me". Mark Davis surely knows that he would forever be hated and he does not want to be the guy remembered for moving the team from Oakland permanently. Its tough to imagine anybody wanting to go through what Art Modell lived with for all those years.
Mark Davis has everything on the line and he is betting on the original home city. There is a huge reason for that bet: MONEY. He literally can not afford the move to LA. Roger Goodell has said that the NFL will require any team that makes the move to LA to fork over $500 million dollars to make it happen. That is not an amount of money that Mark could come up with on his own. It would require some serious concessions.
A move to LA would almost certainly have to include Mark Davis selling a large portion of the team in order to come up with that hefty cost. That is the number one reason I don't believe it will be the Raiders down in LA in the near future. I just don't see Mark being in a hurry to sell a large portion of his family's legacy so soon after his father's passing. If he did he would be admitting to the outside world that he did not have the fortitude to own an NFL franchise.
The connection the Raiders had with the Bay Area fans before leaving has never fully returned. With the way the game changed during Oakland's hiatus to Los Angeles it would be naive to think it ever can be fully restored. The players at that time had an unbelievable connection with the fans. They played hard on the field for the fans and they played hard off the field WITH the fans.
The stories of partying between the Raiders and their fans are legendary. Its also something that just doesn't happen anymore. If the players got drunk and partied with the fans the way they did back then it would be on ESPN in about 3.2 nanoseconds. The connection that existed in the 70's between the players and fans would be chastised by today's media and cracked down on by today's NFL commissioner.
When that connection was severed it must have been terrible for the fans. The fact that it came just one year after a Super Bowl victory makes it even worse. The Raiders came out to defend their 1980 championship with a 7-9 dud of a year in 1981 and then a wave goodbye after that. They left the city that loved them for the pursuit of better facilities in Los Angeles; facilities which they never got.
The fact that they are right back in the same stadium they felt was insufficient for their needs in 1982 is just sad. They left their fans in tatters to get a better stadium and it never came to fruition. Then the Raiders did the same thing to LA for the very same reason. The whole situation has been going in circles for over 3 decades.
It is seventeen years now since they returned to Oakland and that same struggle for a worthy stadium continues. It not only continues but once again threatens the very survival of many Raiders fanhoods in the Bay Area. I only can hope that the fans that already saw their beloved team leave will not have to endure it again.
The City of Oakland is struggling enough, taking their team from them again would just be cruel. The team and the city are doing everything they can to keep that from happening but without a new stadium, leaving remains an option. The lease to the O.Co Coliseum ends after the 2013 season so we won't have to wait much longer to finally get a stadium worthy of being in the NFL. The Bay Area fans now can only cross their fingers and hope that the new stadium the Raiders have needed for decades will not have to be in the City of Angels. Thankfully the signs point to the Raiders staying put in the Bay Area.