The 2019 NFL season will be very much like the 1981 season for fans of the Oakland Raiders. They will get to see their team play one last year in the NorCal city before the Raiders jet off to Las Vegas and relocate for the third time in franchise history.
How things change yet stay the same in the nearly 40 years since the Raiders last moved away from Oakland. This time, it is doubtful the Raiders will ever move back to NorCal. However, when it comes to sports and the NFL, never say never.
As fans of NFL football know, the league loves money, and they will be elated by news released by Forbes this week. The Raiders value sky-rocketed to almost $1.5 billion in the almost three years since relocation talks began gaining steam.
The business website released figures this week stating the Raiders franchise is now worth a whopping $2.9bn. The impending move to Las Vegas has jumped the Raiders from the NFL’s 31st most valuable franchise to No. 12.
The very fact that the Raiders made such an extreme jump between 2015 and 2019 should scare fans of NFL teams around the league. A precedent has been set showing a team’s value can increase dramatically with relocation. Buffalo Bills fans get worried now.
The Las Vegas Raiders will play in the $1.9bn Allegiant Stadium. The move to the venue along with impending sponsorships are partly to think for a sudden surge in value in the last year alone.
Will anyone show up?
The Raiders will play one last season at RingCentral Coliseum, formerly known as the Alameda County Coliseum. The venue is at the heart of the Raiders’ relocation, just like it was in 1981/82. Owner Mark Davis wanted the city to provide him with a new stadium. The city of Oakland didn’t want to pay for a venue that would only be used for eight games a year plus the odd playoff or college game.
Oakland has long had some of the most passionate fans in the entire NFL and losing their team to Las Vegas will crush many of them. There was always a large contingency of Raiders fans that followed them while in Los Angeles. They always held hope the Raiders would come home. Their return in 1995 was hailed by long-time fans. Now, it looks unlikely the Raiders will ever return to NorCal once the move to Las Vegas is complete.
The Raiders are not the only team leaving Oakland. The Golden State Warriors will move into the Chase Center for 2019-20 in San Francisco. It ends the team’s nearly 50 residence in Oakland.
Fans have had some time to get used to the idea of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. Despite the passage of time, it still stings. In 2018, Ray “Dr Death” Perez, a Raiders superfan claimed his love for the team had died. His sentiment will be shared by a number of fans this year, and it begs the question, will anyone show up at RingCentral Stadium?
Surely, there will be long-time Raiders fans that will continue to follow the team once they move. However, for many, football has died in the city and it looks unlikely to be revived.