Okay, we know that the Rams will be moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles. We also know that the Chargers will either join them at a brand-new stadium or stay put in San Diego.
But what, then, about the Raiders? You know, the team that also wanted to move to L.A., but now seems likely to relocate to anywhere on the planet but that metropolis.
Following an NFL owners’ meeting Tuesday that attempted to sort out a relocation application process that involved three teams and two stadium proposals, the Raiders emerged as the big loser. Or, as owner Mark Davis put it, “This is not a win for the Raiders today.”
Davis’s team issued this terse statement, which did not include the word “Oakland”:
The Raiders congratulate Stan Kroenke and the Rams on their successful bid for relocation to Los Angeles. The Raiders will now turn our attention to exploring all options to find a permanent stadium solution. We thank fans throughout the Raider Nation for their unrivaled passion and support.
For their part, Oakland officials expressed some relief at having more time to try and retain the team. Negotiations on a new stadium there have essentially gone nowhere, but with the Raiders failing, at least for the time being, in their bid to move south Tuesday, one element of their leverage has disappeared.
“We are pleased to have additional time to work with the Raiders and the NFL to build a new home for the team in Oakland,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “We recognize that the Raiders have been understandably frustrated over the years, so we are excited to have this chance to rededicate ourselves to getting a deal done in Oakland that works for the team, the NFL, our fans and our taxpayers.
“We remain confident that the Raiders can build a new stadium in Oakland without a direct public subsidy. We stand ready to work with the Raiders and the NFL to responsibly make that happen.”
Davis didn’t sound quite so confident Tuesday. In fact, he left open the possibility that his team would not be playing in Oakland next season, let alone for years to come.
“We’ll see where the Raider Nation ends up here,” Davis said (via the Associated Press). “We’ll be working really hard to find us a home. That’s what we’re looking for, for our fans and everything else. Don’t feel bad. We’ll get it right.”
When asked directly about where the Raiders would play next season, Davis said, “America.” He added (via CSN Bay Area), “The world is a possibility for the Raider Nation.”
Wow, so perhaps the Raiders won’t even be in America. Befitting their pirate theme, perhaps they could take their operation into lawless, international waters.
There exists the chance they could move to Los Angeles, after all, in the seemingly unlikely event the Chargers decide to stay in San Diego. But the Raiders still have to play somewhere else next season. So what, in fact, are the realistic options?
Remain in Oakland. They certainly could play there next season, and either hammer out an agreement for a new stadium there or move to L.A. in 2017 if the Chargers decline their option to do so.
Move in with the 49ers. San Francisco just began play in a brand-new stadium, one located not in that city, but in nearby Santa Clara. This would make a lot of sense, as the Raiders could remain in the Bay Area and the stadium could justify some of its massive expense by adding another tenant — except that the two organizations, and their fan bases, despise each other.
Move somewhere else in Northern California. Smaller cities close to Oakland, such as Vallejo and Concord, have come up as possible landing spots. The dough that would have to be forked over to make that happen wouldn’t be smaller, though.
Move to San Antonio. That city has already been wooing Davis, and the team’s silver-and-black scheme fits perfectly with the Spurs. Even if the Raiders wanted to do that, however, some wonder if Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, a powerful league figure, would block a third NFL team in Texas.
Move to San Diego. Hey, if the Chargers do move to L.A., they leave behind a vacancy, right? Except that fans there may not even be in a mood to welcome back the team they technically still have, let alone welcome in the loathed-for-decades Raiders. Oh, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently described the current stadiums in San Diego, St. Louis and Oakland as “unsatisfactory and inadequate,” and those cities’ plans for new facilities as not viable.
Move to St. Louis. See above regarding Goodell’s comments. The league can’t keep extorting cash-strapped municipalities for public funds if its threat of letting a precious team leave town is diluted by another one immediately taking its place. Then again, the Raiders don’t exactly have a history of doing what the NFL wants them to do.
Move to Portland, Ore. This has been the subject of rumors for a couple of years, and they’re not about to go away based on Tuesday’s events. Portland appears to be a large enough market to support another pro team besides the Trail Blazers, and the Raiders could then stay in the AFC West.
Move to Las Vegas. Now we’re getting into cities that always come up in these sorts of discussions, so we may as well mention Oklahoma City, too.
Move to London. With the way the NFL keeps adding games across the pond, it seems inevitable that the league will simply add a permanent team there one day. The Raiders might find that the Jacksonville Jaguars have dibs, though.
And then there’s, you know, the whole rest of the world. According to the legendary NFL Films poem, “The autumn wind is a raider,” but at the moment, it’s a complete mystery where the Raiders and that wind will wind up.