Since the 2017 season schedule was released there have been a lot of eager, excited fans awaiting their chance to see the Raiders kickoff in Los Angeles. This Sunday they will make their return to the City of Angels for the first time in 23 years.
The Raiders played in LA from 1982 to 1994, heading back to Oakland in 1995, winning a Super Bowl following the 1983 season.
For many Southern California fans, the Raiders’ return to where they once made their home for 13 NFL seasons isn’t exactly the way they had hoped. Just last year, they were in the bidding along with the Rams and Chargers to relocate to LA, but the Raiders were shut out.
First the Rams moved back, playing their games in the Raiders old home, the LA Memorial Coliseum. With their close proximity, the Raiders and Rams faced each other this past preseason, but the game was in Oakland, not LA.
This season the Chargers joined the Rams in LA, playing their games in the 30K seat StubHub center in Carson, not far from where the shared stadium site the Raiders and Chargers had hoped the league’s owners would approve over the Rams.
A year later, the Raiders would get the relocation approval they sought, but it was to move to Las Vegas, where they have already held their ceremonial groundbreaking.
Even with the hopes of Southern California Raiders fans dashed, they will still relish the opportunity to see their former home team take the field in their neighborhood once again, instead of having to travel to Oakland or San Diego or eventually Las Vegas. Even if their team is finishing off a lost season.
San Diego was always considered somewhat of a home game for the Raiders, especially last year when the Raiders were headed back to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Those empty seats had to be filled by someone and Raiders fans were eager recipients.
StubHub Center has been a constant showing of empty seats this season, far worse than Qualcomm Stadium ever was. The Chargers lost a good deal of fan support when they abandoned San Diego and have yet to gain any kind of foothold in LA. The resurgent Rams being in town isn’t helping either.
I would be surprised if Sunday was a blackout of raucous Raiders faithful. For many of them, it’s a day 23 years in the making.