Like his father Al Davis, Mark Davis is jilting Oakland and loyal Raiders fans for brighter lights and greater riches elsewhere.
Forget saccharine platitudes about how Raiders Nation bleeds silver and black. And, please, National Football League, drop the pious talk about the supposedly corrupting influence of gambling.
It’s simple math: Davis is chasing the gold and glitz of Las Vegas, and his partners in the world’s richest club are salivating at the $750 million that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature pledged to help build a fabulous new stadium.
If the Silver State can set that kind of platinum precedent, imagine what other cities will fork over for new stadiums to lure or keep their football teams.
Oakland, which has steep pension debt and a depleted police force, was not in a position to match what Vegas threw at Davis and the NFL.
Throughout his three-decade tenure as NFL commissioner, Pete Rozelle, a legendary figure in the sporting world, warned that legalized sports betting would create cynical fans, obsessed with point spreads and suspicious of players and coaches.
That was a simpler time. Now, teams partner with online sports wagering sites. So why not move to the nation’s gambling capital? It’ll be an ideal venue for a Super Bowl, so convenient for placing wagers.
Roger Goodell and the NFL moguls who voted 31-1 to permit the Raiders’ move used to discourage partners from moving, understanding that their brand depends on fan loyalty. No more. In the past 14 months, the Rams have left St. Louis to return to Los Angeles, and the Chargers have headed to L.A. from San Diego.
Davis’ father, Al Davis, sued the NFL in the 1980s to force the league to authorize the franchise’s move to Los Angeles. Davis did relocate, only to conclude that the L.A. market wasn’t green enough. Oakland lured him back to the Oakland Coliseum, and Alameda County still owes $80 million for the stadium upgrades.
Mark Davis, who took over the team when his father died in 2011, inherited Al’s wandering eye.
He intends to have the Raiders play in Oakland for another season or two and oh-so-sincerely said he would dearly love to bring the fans a championship, as if he cares about them even a little bit.