The Oakland Raiders appear to be looking for a new home after spending the last 19 years in the Bay Area. According to the San Antonio Express News, owner Mark Davis has already started the process of potentially relocating the team.
The latest report states that Davis and two other members of the organization met with officials from San Antonio. The owner declined to go into detail about his visit, only claiming that he’s friends with former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros, who suggested he meet with a few city officials. Following the meeting, the Express-News reported that city manager Sheryl Sculley used a memo to the city council.
“I was asked to meet two weeks ago with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis, and members of his staff. Mr. Davis has expressed interest in a possible relocation of his NFL team to San Antonio and we are engaged in preliminary due diligence,” Sculley said in the statement. “The agenda for this visit included a tour of the Alamodome and meetings with local business leaders.”
A move to San Antonio would give Texas three NFL organizations. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn’t have much to say about the news at training camp, though he did acknowledge the importance of the San Antonio market to his team. Dallas and San Antonio are 274 miles apart, and the Cowboys have held their training camp at the Alamodome on five different occasions.
The Raiders eventual relocation has been a topic of discussion over the past year, as the team failed to sign a new lease to play in O.co Coliseum. The stadium is 48 years old, making it the third-oldest in the NFL. Oakland’s lease with the Coliseum is set to come to an end after 2014, and Davis has stated that he doesn’t want to sign another short deal. The Raiders are the only NFL team to share their stadium with a baseball team.
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If the Raiders could get a new venue in Oakland, there’s a good chance the team would stay in the city. That doesn’t appear to be a strong possibility, considering there’s a $600 million funding gap for a football-only stadium, according to Oakland Councilman Larry Reid. While temporarily playing in the Alamodome, the Raiders would have a much easier time getting a new venue built in San Antonio, considering the property value is far less expensive in Texas than it is in California.
Davis is doing his due diligence by looking at San Antonio, but the team could also leave Oakland, while remaining in the state. Moving back to Los Angeles, where the team played for 13 seasons, is an option. The city needs a new stadium, but the L.A. Times reported that the league is looking at potential sites in the city, and could choose to build a stadium that’s owned by the NFL itself.
The Raiders had a lot of success during their time in Los Angeles, winning a Super Bowl and recording just three losing seasons. Al Davis, who had been principal owner from 1972 until his death in 2011, was prepared to move the team on several occasions during the Raiders’ time in L.A., and an agreement with Oakland was eventually signed in 1995. There had been suggestions that his son Mark would be more aggressive in finding a new football-specific stadium for the famed team.
The Raiders could switch cities, while staying in the Bay Area. The San Francisco 49ers are set to play in the NFL’s newest stadium, as the $1.3 billion Levi Stadium officially opened on July 17. The 49ers could rent out the stadium to their crosstown rivals.
It won’t be simple for the Raiders to move, especially to a place like San Antonio. The Bay Area ranks as the No.6 media market in the United States, while San Antonio comes in at No.36. Twenty-four of the 32 NFL owners would have to approve the move.