Sports

If The Raiders Really Cared About Their Fans, They'd Leave Oakland Now

The publicly-owned Coliseum Authority could lose as much as $2 million a year if attendance falls.
March 29, 2017, 3:45pm

As of right now, the "Oakland" Raiders have at least one more year of existence before they become the Las Vegas Raiders, a purgatory that no one is particularly happy about. It could be as much as two or even three years, as the club has an annual option to extend their lease at the Oakland Coliseum, and team owner Mark Davis said he would like to stay as long as the fans will have him, more or less.

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This puts the city of Oakland, Alameda County, and Raiders fans in a weird spot, because the Alameda County Coliseum Authority—a public entity jointly owned by the city and county—will actually lose money when the Raiders play at the Coliseum. As the San Francisco Chronicle reported before the vote took place, the Coliseum Authority barely breaks even as it stands. But if game day revenue falls as a result of fans not wasting their time and money with a team that's abandoning them—Dr. Death has already bailed—then the Coliseum Authority will come out in the red. The Chronicle's Kimberly Veklerov estimates a 10 to 15 percent attendance drop could cost the Coliseum Authority $2 million a year, not to mention the savings by not having to spend $450,000 every time they convert the stadium from football to baseball.

From a taxpayer standpoint, it's clearly better if the Raiders left Oakland ASAP. That money could go towards badly-needed stadium renovations, which the Coliseum Authority will have to pay regardless if they want to keep the stadium functional. But if the Raiders insist on exercising their club options to stay there, is it better for Raiders fans to keep going to games in order to minimize the Coliseum Authority's debt, even if that puts money in the team's pocket too? Would boycotting the games be an exercise in cutting of their economic noses to spite their faces?

Either way, those few millions of dollars a year are nothing compared to the debt the Coliseum Authority still has to pay off from the Al Davis-demanded renovations in 1990. The Coliseum Authority still owes $83 million towards that debt and won't pay it off until 2025. Mark Davis will be living it up in Vegas by then. It's almost as if the billionaires always win and the taxpayers always lose. Funny how that happens.