Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, March 31, 2017



Say it ain't so, Joe! Sorry: The vote is in and the Oakland Raiders are moving to Las Vegas. It was made official on Monday at the annual N.F.L. owners meetings. Held on the last week in March, thirty-two millionaires and billionaires converge at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. Behind closed doors, they wheel and deal with football fan's hearts like pieces on a chess board. Our mailbox is jammed packed...so let's get started.

Why do the Raiders owners want to move to Las Vegas? Leslie, Des Moines. Normally, teams move to larger cities to increase their fan base. Clark County Nevada is the 29th largest metro area in the USA with two million residents. The Bay Area is the 11th largest. Nope, the reason why Mark Davis is moving is he wants a new stadium. Ever since Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones built the behemoth, luxurious indoor super-stadium, all the other owners have been jealous. Other cities like Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Seattle followed the trend and have state-of-art football arenas. However, the publicly-owned Oakland Coliseum is one of the oldest in the league. And Mark Davis is tired of the other owners laughing at him about it!

Is the stadium in Oakland really that bad? Tracy, New York. Naturally, the answer depends on who you ask. According to a recent poll in USA Today, the Oakland Coliseum did not fare well. It placed 30th of the 31 stadiums nationwide. Ouch! The biggest complaint involved the multi-use field which is also used for baseball. This means the first 4 games are played with dirt patches. However, if you ask the fans who actually buy the tickets, they will reply with indifference. See, these are passionate fans who come to watch the game on the field. Frankly, they don't notice much about anything else and certainly don't care about the national rankings of the food vendors.

Who cast the lone vote against the move? Ethan, El Cerrito. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this story is the near-unanimity of the final vote. A whopping 31 of the 32 owners approved the move. NOTE: A two-thirds vote is required for this measure. That one vote against relocation was from Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. It appears he is the only participant who cares at all about fans. "I may own the Dolphins, but the team belongs to the people of Miami." he explained. Raider fans are known for their fervor. It seems 99% of the fans at a home games don Raiders gear. ESPN Jersey Rankings has them at #2 in sales amongst all teams.

When will the move occur? Tom, San Diego. Here's the tricky part: The new, domed super-stadium in Vegas won't be completed until the year 2019. Normally, when a pro team relocates, they play a season or two in a smaller venue until construction ends. For example, the Los Angeles Rams are playing in the ancient Coliseum while the most expensive stadium EVER is being built nearby. However, there is no stadium in tiny Vegas large enough to support a pro football team. So next two seasons will still be played in Oakland. This will create a lot of tension in the stands for anyone dumb enough to wear any Las Vegas merchandise to a home game.

At the end of the day, what message are the owners sending? Stephen A, Los Angeles. An editorial in the New York Times stated owners are "going where the money is." See, the 32 NFL teams have a revenue-sharing system, where profits are equally divided amongst teams. Last season, Oakland produced one the smallest contributions. The excitement of a team in Sin City will be a huge financial gain for all of the owners, even the one who voted for the fans. Let's face the truth. The owners stopped caring about fans decades ago. They are simply a commodity that can be found...and mined of their cash...anywhere.

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