By Timothy Bella,

OAKLAND, Calif. (CBS Los Angeles) – When Oakland county and city legislators approved the return of the Raiders from Los Angeles in July of 1995, Al Davis and the silver and black looked to be coming home for the long haul.

“It is an economic shot in the arm and one that is symbolic of good things to come,” said then-Oakland City Councilwoman Sheila Jordan at the time.

Sixteen years later, the franchise’s future is unclear and good things may not be on the way. Davis, the franchise’s controversial owner who won three Super Bowls and made the team into an unmistakable global brand, died at his home in Oakland early Saturday morning. In the wake of Davis’ death, new rhetoric is bound to spring up about the franchise’s future in Oakland, undoubtedly sparking new rounds of discussion as to whether the Raiders would return to Los Angeles, a move that could increase the franchise’s value by as much as $1 billion, instantly making them one of the league’s most lucrative organizations, according to John Semcken, vice president of Majestic Reality.

“The minute a team moves to Los Angeles they become the richest team in the NFL,” Semcken told the Orange County Register in April of this year.

In the hours following Davis’ passing, Raiders CEO Amy Trask kept adamant about the team remaining in the Davis family, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that there is a succession plan in place involving Davis’ wife, Carol, and his son, Mark. Still, the NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora indicated that some owners do expect the Davis family to look for additional owners, potentially signaling the early signs of more Raiders-to-L.A. talk.

But the financial uneasiness of the Raiders residing in Oakland is evident. Last season, the Raiders had the league’s lowest per-game attendance, bringing in just 46,431 fans a game – well short of a sellout. In fact, the club sold out just one home game during its 8-8 campaign over the 2010 season, accounting for about 30 percent of the league’s televised blackouts.

Recently, Forbes ranked the Raiders as the second-least valuable NFL franchise, generating just $217 million in revenue last year.

The franchise’s lack of more substantial revenue is happening as concerns of job creation continue to hinder the Oakland economy. The unemployment rate in the Bay Area stands at 9.7 percent, higher than the country’s unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These grim statistics, as well as the revenue numbers at local hotels, restaurants, and shops, would undoubtedly be affected.

George Vukasin, Sr. — the former president of Coliseum, then known as the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum — was one of the main players responsible for bringing the Raiders back to Oakland, wining and dining Davis during the summer of 1995. Yet, Vukasin is skeptical as to whether the current local economic climate, one struggling to plug enough financial resources into a law enforcement unit for a community continually facing violent crimes, would allow a new football-only stadium for the silver and black. This comes as the Oakland A’s, the Raiders’ co-tenant at the Coliseum, propose a baseball-only stadium in San Jose.

“In order for a new football stadium or for a major renovation to be made for where the Raiders are now, it’ll take a lot of money and I’m not sure the community has the money to make it successful,” said Vukasin, now the chairman emeritus for Peerless Coffee in Oakland. “The financial challenges of the city are very substantial.”

Then, there’s the 500-pound gorilla in the room: The fact that the country’s second-biggest market hasn’t had an NFL team for the last 16 years. If what’s happening in Los Angeles is taken into consideration, then the talk of the Raiders heading back to L.A. may not be a pipe dream after all.

Anschutz Entertainment Group is on the cusp of getting approved a proposal to build a 72,000-seat football stadium to be located in downtown Los Angeles, across from the Staples Center. The tentative plan entails unveiling Farmers Field in time for the beginning of the 2016 NFL season.

The move would also help ease the city’s unemployment issues. At close to 12-percent unemployment, the Los Angeles area is facing even more significant unemployment numbers than its Oakland neighbors to the north. The approval of the new stadium would add 12,000 new construction jobs and another 11,000 full-time jobs to the region, according to AEG.

If a Southern California move was in the cards for the Raiders post-Davis, there isn’t a better time to do it considering today’s volatile economic climate, management expert Roger L. Martin told CBS Los Angeles. When assessing the past business potential of an NFL team in Los Angeles and how it would be different now, the biggest issue that the city faced was playing its home games in the oversized Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, giving way to the idea that people want to be at a full venue, said Martin, author of FIXING THE GAME: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL.

“Supply kills demand in entertainment,” said Martin. “The only reason L.A. doesn’t have a team is because they’ve never had a stadium that creates the right match between supply and demand.”

He added that the franchise and the league would see increased value by having the Raiders back in Los Angeles, generating more streams of revenue by being in a top-tier market as well as creating new tax opportunities for the state.

“[Los Angeles] should be a contributor into the revenue-sharing pot, not a taker, which I would assume Oakland probably is, being a prototypical small-market franchise,” he said. “That’s what would make the NFL like this.”

Of course, the Raiders returning to the City of Angels isn’t a slam dunk by any means. When the Raiders first moved to the Coliseum in Los Angeles, the plan was to eventually build what was to be, according to Davis, a state-of-the-art stadium that would have been no cost to Los Angeles-area taxpayers. Paul Tagliabue, the NFL’s commissioner at the time, often butted heads with the volatile owner during the team’s tenure in Southern California.

“He put a lot of onerous things in our way that drove us out of L.A.,” Davis told ESPN in 2002.

Vukasin said the economic ripple effect the Oakland area would face if the Raiders were to leave again could be a significant one, adding that major city real-estate developers in the area see the Raiders as a giant plus for the community, given the name recognition Davis helped give the franchise.

“If the city lost the team, they’d be recognized as a community that couldn’t support it,” he said.

Whether the franchise will stay in Oakland has yet to be seen, but its future will look different without Davis, who made an indelible impact on the game, especially in two California cities.

“When you look at the landscape of the National Football League and what Al Davis did, it’s immense,” NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen said in a statement to CBS Los Angeles. Allen, who played 10 seasons for the Raiders during their time in Los Angeles, was once referred to by Davis as “a cancer to the team,” resulting in a harsh falling out between Allen and the franchise. “It’s no secret that we didn’t see eye-to-eye at times, but I’ve always been grateful for the opportunity that he gave me, and I’ll always remember that.”

Then again, as Davis said in the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary “Straight Outta L.A.,” which highlighted the Raiders’ run in Los Angeles, an Oakland-to-Los Angeles move is never really that far out of sight and out of mind.

“If they ever offered a new stadium, they could knock,” he said.

Comments (41)
  1. LARaiderNation says:

    Bring them back! Nobody in LA wants the Chargers!

    1. Den says:

      We don’t want the Raiders. They belong in Oakland. The Chargers belong in Los Angeles. They started here and we been waiting 50 years for them to come back home to Los Angeles.

      1. Brian Fulsom says:

        Speak for yourself. I went to my first Raider game in 1988 & I have been a fan ever since. The Raiders are linked to the L.A. market because of its move down here and that fact can’t be overlooked. As as stereotyped in a later response, we are not all gangsters or thugs. I know many Raider fans who are business owners, police officers, grad students, and other pillars of the community. IF they come back, they will be welcomed back with open arms…and Farmer’s Field! Thank you for your time.

      2. Brian Fulsom says:


      3. Dan says:

        Shut Up!

    2. Dave says:

      Yeah we don’t want the Raiders in LA, Bring back the Chargers to Los Angeles.

      1. Chargers1 says:

        70% of Raiders fans are gang members. Leave that thug team in Oakland!
        The Charges are the original LA team.

        We don’t want any more Dodger Stadium beatings!!!

      2. ES says:

        Just what LA needs, more criminals. As if we didn’t have our fare share already.

    3. Al Isdead says:

      Please DO NOT bring this gutter organization to L.A. I would like to go to a football game with my son and not have to sit among a bunch of gang bangers. I have always said that if all the Raider fans in the world disappeared one day crime in this country would drop 90%.

      1. Chargers1 says:

        Like I said Brian Fulsom. 70% are gangster and thugs and you fall in the 30%.

  2. LA is mucho lazo says:

    Good old LA, with the exception of the Kings, every professional sports team started somewhere else. LA is a rotten sports town anyway considering it is already full of self important dweebs who produce nothing of value. They actually could have kept the Raiders or lured another NFL team there if they got up off their lazy butts and built a decent stadium. But LA stands for LAZY. It is too bad Oakland is too poor to keep the team they love because LA does not deserve any team-just a big mirror so they can admire themselves.

  3. yourbiznes says:

    The L.A., Oakland, L.A., Oakland Raiders????

    1. Dees Knuts says:

      About as bad as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. I want my beloved Chargers to stay in San Diego and I want the raider nation to stay in Oakland. We have enough criminal problems here. Although they would fit in well with the hoods who claim hate and fear at Dodger stadium. In fact, I want out of California all together, this state has gone to the dogs.

      1. So Cal says:

        Good for you and PLEASE leave California ASAP. Go cry to someone else.

  4. The real T says:

    I guess Im the odd man out when I say I dont want either one …. Give me the Packers or the Vikings , Rams – Money Makers (Money Makers draw fans which creates work, which creates jobs) – which the Raiders arent – at least at present…. – Chargers are a different story (Just not a preference)- the others I just like better….I Love Football – but I like to watch a competative game ….. I just dont think Oakland “brings it” …Although they have done better this year than the last few – so far…..

  5. Ovarela says:

    I think the Rams should come back to LA. Whenever I think of old school professional football in LA, the obvious choice is the Rams! I

    1. noneoff says:

      While you’re at it, bring back Roman Gabrial and Rich Saul.


    Lets be Real. The analyst got it right. Any team to move to L.A. will be instant billionaires. L.A. is a heavily crowded city with hundreds of thousands of sport fans. DIE HARD sport fans. When the Raiders lived in L.A. they made a ton of cash on jerseys and side sales. They need that money to bulk up the team.
    The stereo type that the team will only bring violence is an old one from the eighties. These young wooper snapper hoodlums are fighting on the internet now and the cops in L.A. do not put up with the slightest bit of gang violence at sport venues. Especially what after what happened at the Dodgers Stadium. Bring Raiders back so they wont have the title of Chokeland Raiders anymore. The Team deserves more respect simply because of it’s history!!

    1. T says:

      on a positive note – i did like the Team when coach Grueden was there …..

    2. Brian Fulsom says:

      Well said!

      1. Richi says:

        Do yourr home work Brian Fulsom. I know a lot of cops, and they tell me all the time that if the Raiders come to LA you will have a spike in beatings like what happened at Dodger Stadium.

        Just look at what happened in preseason this year when the Raides played the 49ers.

  7. Juan says:

    The Raiders are the only NFL team that won a SUPERBOWL while in L.A., bring them back!

    1. Andrew West says:

      still they were only in L.A. for only 13 years, 13 years is not the same as 48 years the Rams were in L.A., the Rams are L.A.’s true NFL team, plus the Raiders Super Bowl Win in L.A. was won with an Oakland Roster, all the players on that L.A. Raiders team were Oakland players except for Marcus Allen

  8. Stuart says:

    which ever team comes to L.A should have a new name and uniform

  9. T says:

    @ stuart – maybe we can come up with a different animal – Ardvark? Rotweillers?
    Racoons?, Squirrels ? Pigeons? … sorry just trying to add a little humor..:)

  10. Raider says:

    This is for everyone with the negative remarks towards the Raiders about being gang bangers and thugs. Don’t look back at the 80’s and mid 90’s when the Raiders were in L.A. But look at the positive and what they will bring to L.A. jobs will be created. I’m a raider fan and anywhere you go in the country to watch a football game at any stadium you will experience some kind crimal activity, but you just don’t hear about it in the local news. Stop whining and bring the Raiders back Los Angeles Raiders that is.

  11. Frank says:

    It is funny how people say bringing the Raiders will bring criminal element to LA. Open your eyes, they are already here. Fact is there are more Raider fans than any other team here and the Chargers would not get the support as San Diego fans would not make the drive to support an “LA” team. Da Raiders will be back like it or not but that is the reality.

  12. dawilliams says:

    The minute the Raiders leave their home and come to L.A.they are done. They lost in Los Angeles before and they will loose again. The Raiders belong in Oakland. Thats where they should stay. L.A. is always quick to lavish money on something they want. Uncle Tom Bradley lured the team to L.A. and they failed because they lost their team character. They became Hollywood Raiders. Thats why they aint won since. They made their rep in Oakland and thats where they should stay. L.A. should create its own team from scratch and stop trying to filch and steal the success of others.Oakland is a blue collar team from a Blue collar town. Like the Green Bay Packers they represent a true core of fans. They dont need these greedy corporate tyes filching and stealing their past glory in an attempt to cash in on their name and past glory. The Raiders need to rebuild their rep in Oakland thats their home. Thats where they belong.

  13. raider-hater says:

    F*ck the Raiders, we DON’T want them in los Angeles. A multi-millions dollar stadium surrounded by entertainment complexes will in no way harbor such a problematic team with it’s problematic followers.
    Bring the Jags, or Vikings instead.

  14. Michael says:

    The Raiders Fans are not gansters. The gangsters just like the appearal. It wont matter what team ends up in LA, LA is just a city of violence and crime. And I live in MN now and Vikings fans beat someone the first home game of the season. I watched it happen. People get drunk and get pumped up, Im a bartender and see it everynightl. I believe a RAIDERS only stadium will be great no matter where it is. REAL MEN WEAR SILVER AND BLACK

  15. Cowboys Blue says:

    Raider Nation was Born in Los Angeles. When the Raiders moved to L.A. in 1982, The Raiders fan base was officially put on the global map.

    Al Davis loved Los Angeles. To this day the Raiders are the most popular team in the City of Angels.

    Bring them back!

    Take the venue in Downtown Los Angeles and name the Field after AD.

    Al Davis Field at Farmers!

    Los Angeles Raiders 2013

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