Sports

Where Will the Raiders Play Next Season If They Leave Oakland?

GettyImages-630769872
Oakland Raiders fans hold signs before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders' tumultous preseason took a turn for the worst amid reports the City of Oakland is reportedly ready to sue them and the NFL in a move that could see the franchise leave Alameda County earlier than scheduled.

According to multiple reports, the City of Oakland is set to file a class-action lawsuit, in the latest development in a saga that has seen the Raiders on the verge of a move ever since they returned to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995. The franchise has considered moving to Los Angeles for a second time and has attempted to build a new stadium on the site of the current Oakland Coliseum, to no avail.

Frustrated at the lack of viable solutions, the Raiders submitted a proposal to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020, which was approved by 31 votes to 1 by NFL owners in March last year. 

The three-time Super Bowl winners have already indicated that should a lawsuit be filed, they would look to relocate before completing their move to Vegas.

Earlier this week, Coliseum authority Executive Director Scott McKibben said the Raiders “made it very clear to me that [if] the City decided to file a lawsuit they would not seek a lease extension to play at the Coliseum but would play elsewhere.”

Should the Raiders opt to leave Oakland next season, finding a temporary home might require a degree of flexibility.

Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco is arguably the best option if the Raiders are to remain in the Bay Area, although it remains to be seen whether the 49ers would be prepared to share their home. At the same time, the 49ers pay approximately $25 million in annual rent, compared to the $3 million fee the Raiders currently fork out for the Coliseum, which makes the move unlikely.

GettyImages-630769872 Oakland Raiders fans hold signs before the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Raiders have a strong fan base in San Diego and have previously looked to make the city their temporary home before but relocating to Qualcomm Stadium next season would see them play their home games 500 miles from their actual home.

For the same reason it’s unlikely the Raiders will use to the Los Angeles Coliseum, particularly as neither the Chargers nor the Rams would be too happy about having the Raiders back in town for another season.

Similarly, University of California and Stanford’s stadiums are both logistically viable options but neither university is likely to be too excited by the prospect of having to deal with NFL games, meaning the Raiders could have to look around for a while.

Speaking about the lawsuit, which is set to be filed and announced by City Attorney Barbara Parker in the coming days, Oakland city councilman Noel Gallo said he wanted to take the Raiders and the NFL to court to ensure a degree of compensation for the team leaving the city.

Gallo insisted the lawsuit was not aimed at changing the Raiders’ minds, rather at securing millions of dollars in damages to offset the financial impact the move to Las Vegas will have on local businesses in Oakland.

"My ultimate goal is to pursue the National Football League and the Oakland Raiders to pay back some of the cost that our taxpayers will have to make up," he was quoted as saying by MyNetworkTV-affiliated Kron4. "With the bond, we are looking at $90 million, whether the Raiders are here or not, we have to continue to pay as taxpayers."

Fellow council member Rebecca Kaplan echoed Gallo’s stance. “I do believe, and have consistently advocated, that we should seek to protect Oakland taxpayers in dealing with the sports teams,” she told the Bay Area News.

The city council has mulled the option of filing a lawsuit since earlier this year but up until now there appeared to be little interest in suing. However, now that the council has got the proverbial ball rolling, not everyone is on board with the move.

“You are going to expose the city to potential liabilities and for what?” former Oakland Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said. “You are trying to excuse yourself from not doing s**t about it.”

De La Fuente, who described the lawsuit as “ridiculous,” was instrumental in bringing the Raiders back to Oakland in the 1990s, after the franchise had relocated to Los Angeles in similar controversial circumstances.

The Raiders will hope things on the field prove more successful than off it but after trading Khalil Mack to Chicago last weekend, the chances are slim.

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