The A’s have made a number of changes to the Coliseum recently. Some are bigger than others, but collectively they amount to a statement: This is our home. Rather than treat it with all the care of a hobo squatting in a boarded up ramshackle Victorian in soon-to-be gentrified West Oakland (which was more or less the case over the past 20 years or so), the A’s are treating it like the palace of magic and memories that it is.
To an A’s fan, that means a lot. First came the new scoreboards two years ago. This year, a slew of changes: Christening it Rickey Henderson Field, opening the “Championship Plaza” with games, food trucks and an inviting atmosphere, debuting the Shibe Park Tavern with nods to the franchise’s history as well as quality food and beer options, getting rid of the ugly and faded tarps, adding a sweet “Holy Toledo” sign in the outfield, and announcing an upcoming upgrade to the kids zone.
The A’s are going through all this trouble to spruce up an old building that they don’t even own. And yet, come fall, the Raiders will yet again careen through our home with the conscientiousness of a herd of Spanish bulls, trample our field and overflow our ancient plumbing system.
I have never been a Raiders fan. Few people who grew up in the Bay Area when I did really cared about the Raiders (many, such as Oakland native and avowed 49ers fan Gary Payton, never forgave them for leaving). I only ever knew them as the LA Raiders, until they came back with some fanfare when I was in high school. I’d watch their games casually if they were on TV, rooting for them but not invested in the outcome.
Although they ruined the Coliseum for baseball forever with the construction of the ugly, misplaced, tacky, and ironically-not-even-used-for-football Mount Davis, I didn’t hate them.
In past years, I convinced myself not to care about the annual destruction wrought upon Clay Wood’s artistic mastery, because at least the Raiders were Oakland’s team. There was enough crossover between A’s fans and Raiders fans that I never thought it was productive to bash the Raiders and start blood feuds within an already small and abused fanbase.
However, now that their never-accomplished-anything overgrown manchild of an owner has completed his pursuit of the dollar signs in Las Vegas, why should we bother rolling out the green carpet for this degenerate and his team that has two feet out the door?
The Warriors’ Draymond Green echoed my sentiments:
“So, it’s one thing if you’re moving them from Oakland to Fremont or something. But to Las Vegas? I wouldn’t attend a game. I won’t attend a game. And I’m not a diehard Raiders fan, but I do support the city of Oakland, so it ain’t for me. I feel like all fans should feel that way. You just don’t do that. C’mon, man. That’s ridiculous”
The Raiders have tried to reduce the awkwardness of these last two seasons by signing beloved Oakland native Marshawn Lynch out of retirement to play for his hometown team. That blatant PR move actually worked on some folks I know, because it’s hard to hate on Lynch. However it should be seen for what it is, a band-aid on the stab wound the Raiders dug into Oakland’s back.
Meanwhile, after the Raiders’ move was announced, A’s President Dave Kaval more or less said “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” while speaking to NBC Sports California’s Joe Stiglich regarding the idea of shifting the home clubhouse into the Raiders’ locker room space.
“Well, it’s considerably bigger than our current locker room,” he said, “and so we could have a more player-friendly area, more lounge space, be more spread out. Even space for training facilities we don’t have now. And so it just provides a lot more flexibility, and a better draw for players if they want to play here in Oakland.”
Let me get this straight. The Raiders are leaving Oakland, the city whose taxpayers funded their return (and are still paying for!) yet they want Oakland to welcome them with open arms for two seasons in the building that they trashed, and oh yeah, do so to the detriment of the current tenants, who by the way, actually want to stay here? Which current tenants are working hard to IMPROVE the building that the Raiders trash every fall? Why should we A’s fans or anyone in Oakland put up with this? Why should the Raiders’ paltry eight home games continue to ruin RICKEY HENDERSON FIELD and, even worse, cost the A’s a chance at landing and retaining talent?
Ah. There is this minor detail that the Raiders are on a year-to-year lease, and apparently they hold annual options to renew the lease for the next two seasons (the first of which was already exercised).
That being the case, the city and county should take a page out of Al Davis’ playbook: Don’t honor the option, and if the Raiders refuse to leave, don’t let ‘em in. That ought to be enough, as I doubt the Raiders and the NFL even want to deal with the potential public backlash that comes along with suing the city they are leaving. A few experts have put forth plausible arguments against the Raiders’ being able to stay in the Coliseum, should it come to a legal battle.
Even if the fight spills into court, I say get the sledgehammers going. If the city and county and the A’s actually go ahead and build those locker rooms right now, the Raiders can hem and haw and sue but they can’t actually play football in our home. If they can’t play, it means no divots, cleat marks, dead grass, and especially no freaking yard lines in our field. Let Mark Davis and his haircut go hat in hand to Jed York’s 49ers or find a college that needs some cash and use their field. Now that they are for sure going to Vegas, I really don’t care where they play as long as it ain’t Rickey Henderson Field.
Seriously, Raiders, just get the f*** out of Oakland.