On Sunday, the Raiders will play their last game ever in Oakland, for the second time.
They left in 1981, returned in 1995, and they’ll now leave again. This time for Las Vegas.
“The Raiders and Oakland grew up together,” Raiders owner Mark Davis told Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area on Friday. “We were the stepchild of San Francisco. We were just Oakland. And I believe my dad took special pride in that and in building it up. . . . The Raiders were born in Oakland, and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. There’s no doubt about that.”
Davis selected a relatively recent (and relatively obscure) game as his most memorable of the games the team has played during its second stint in Oakland: A 2014 win over the Chiefs that ended Oakland’s 0-10 start to the season.
Five years later, he’s preparing for perhaps the most amicable split that ever has happened between a city and a team.
“The Oakland Raiders were established in 1960,” Davis said. “The Los Angeles Raiders were established in 1982. And the Las Vegas Raiders are being established in 2020. It’s a new era, and we’ve got a new residence.”
It will be interesting to see whether that new residence evolves into a clear home-field advantage, or whether it will be populated with plenty of opposing fans on a regular basis. The Raiders hope to build a fan base in Las Vegas and to draw fans from L.A. and Oakland for home games. But fans of visiting teams surely will be inclined to make the trip to Nevada for the games to be played there, eight times per year.
Regardless, the Raiders had no choice but to leave. With no public money available to build a stadium in Oakland and Las Vegas bringing $750 million in free money to the table, it was an offer Davis and the Raiders couldn’t refuse.