The Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders are looking for a temporary home for the 2019 NFL season.
At this point, a pop-up stadium in Dubai might be in play.
The Raiders – often called “America’s Team” because over the last half-century they have contacted every American municipality seeking a housing deal – are scheduled to move to a new, expensive, almost-paid-for dome in Las Vegas in 2020.
Until then, they have been a lame-duck tenant at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. However, the city of Oakland filed a federal antitrust suit against the Raiders and the NFL over the Las Vegas move, and Raiders owner Mark Davis indicated he won’t renew his lease in Oakland next season if they were being sued.
(FYI: The Davis family – Mark is son of the legendary, late Raiders owner Al Davis – has a lot of experience in legal battles. Since 1980, the team motto is, “Just win in court, baby.”)
All of this leaves the Raiders with a 4-12 team, a $100 million bobble head coach and no place to play losing football come September.
This would be somewhat embarrassing for the NFL, except when you consider the Los Angeles/San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers are playing two seasons at a 27,000-seat soccer stadium near a 7-Eleven in Carson, Calif.
Meanwhile, on the eastern end of Sports Nation, Daniel Snyder – recently voted “worst owner of a Native American-themed franchise in New World history” – is in the midst of a 10-year collection plate tour of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia in search of a $1 billion handout for a new stadium.
Public officials in the DMV are courting him while the public is castigating him.
Which brings us back to the Raiders and Davis. People mock Davis a lot, but he apparently cashed in the largest Groupon ever to get his Las Vegas facility. Davis not only convinced Bank of America he was good for a $650 million loan and the NFL to float him another $200 million, he also swindled and swagglefoosed the state of Nevada for $750 million of public money.
Davis makes Billy the Kid look like Mister Rogers.
For 2019, the Raiders have other Bay Area options – play at Stanford or Cal-Berkeley, or share the 49ers’ Santa Clara home or the baseball Giants’ Oracle Park.
There also is the possibility the Raiders might “hit the road” and play this single season in farther-flung locales: San Diego – I could’ve sworn they had an NFL team – or Seattle, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Antonio, Reno, Nevada, or maybe even Fresno, California, “the gateway to Bakersfield.”
They could have a belated Farewell to Southern California campaign at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, site of some of the team’s most storied bleacher brawls.
The Raiders and the NFL are also rumored to be considering London – not London, Arkansas, or London, Ohio or London, Kentucky, but London, England. Sure, the NFL already plays there annually, but we’re talking about a logistical nightmare of eight home games 5,350 miles away from Oakland, plus the likelihood that most Black Hole fans don’t clear British customs.
League sources also indicate three other avant-garde options are being discussed:
Biosphere 2 in Arizona. A de facto dome, the building was originally designed to demonstrate an ecological system to support and maintain human life in outer space, quite compatible to sustaining the Raiders front office.
The Pentagon in Virginia. If the government shutdown lasts into the fall, this would be a wonderful repurposing of the world’s largest office building, creating the NFL’s first five-sided stadium. Plenty of parking.
Amazon warehouse in Oklahoma. To boost interest, season-ticket holders could have Amazon Prime subscription fees waived and pick up orders seat-side at home games.
If all else fails, Davis might pay homage to his dad and see if Irwindale, California, is willing to give the team another $10 million cash advance for the possibility of eight games in town.
Or – who knows? – the Raiders might be the first to Airbnb a stadium.
Ask The Slouch
Q. My son and I have counted at least five times this season in which replay has gotten a call wrong in a Chiefs game. Can’t you make a phone call and fix this? (John Wagner; Independence, Mo.)
A. If they used replay in 1776, we might still be under British rule.
Q. You seem like the kind of guy who can “do the math” – what is the differential between difference and differential? (Peter Brady; Greenbelt, Md.)
A. It is of no consequence, or inconsequential.
Q. Shouldn’t 2019 be the year that authors of your column’s questions finally get a raise? If not, can we go to arbitration? (Graham Vink; Vienna, Va.)
A. No raise, no arbitration and, just for bringing up the issue, no $1.25 for you!
Q. His athleticism is over the top. (R. Brendler; Rockville, Md.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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