As of Wednesday, the Oakland Raiders don’t have a home for the 2019 season.
We’re roughly eight months from the first preseason games of the year being played.
This seems like it should be a concern for Raiders owner Mark Davis and the NFL.
2019 lease with city is unsigned
The Raiders are supposed to move to Las Vegas for the 2020 season, when their stadium is completed. The plan in the interim was apparently to sign one last one-year lease with the city of Oakland for use of the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
In an interview with ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez last month, Davis said he preferred to spend 2019 in Oakland, and that there was a lease agreement submitted to the city council.
But that was before Tuesday, when the city filed a federal lawsuit against the Raiders and the NFL, seeking damages for what it believes is an illegal move to Las Vegas. The city isn’t asking for courts to force the team to remain in Oakland, but wants the city and residents to recoup money it has invested, only to be left high and dry with the Raiders leaving.
With the city suing his team, it seems unlikely Davis will want to stay, though Wednesday he said that’s his preference. He didn’t rule out many options for 2019, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times:
Raiders owner Mark Davis said he'd like to stay put next season, but the team has all sorts of options re where to play. Didn't rule out San Diego. Didn't rule out anything, really, except San Antonio.
— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) December 12, 2018
But where will they go?
It’s all well and good if Davis wants to take his team and go elsewhere because the city of Oakland (rightfully) wants to recoup money it spent on a stadium that is losing a tenant.
But where will they go? And what kind of damage does it do to a franchise to have three home cities in three years? Raiders fans are among the most rabid in the NFL, but it’s hard to think the majority of them will continue to follow a vagabond outfit.
Davis told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Tuesday night, “We’re 3-10 and we’re still relevant,” but they’re relevant because their high-paid coach has decimated the roster and they’re now essentially homeless.
The Raiders do know (sort of) where at least one of their “home” games will be next year: On Wednesday, it was announced that they’re one of five teams hosting an international game. No word if it will be the one in Mexico City or one of the four in London.
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