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Nation must show or Raiders will go

Mark Davis has been more visible of late
(TFDS photo/ Patrick A. Patterson)

After selling out their home opener against the San Diego Chargers, the Raiders attendance has dropped off dramatically. In their third game, as they were coming off their first win and facing their division rival Denver Broncos the announced attendance was their worst since 2005. After beating the Eagles, the Raiders had the lowest home attendance since 1966. (Not counting a scab game in 1987.)

This dwindling attendance is sending a message to both the city of Oakland and the Raiders. The message that the fans allegedly want to send is that they want a competitive team, but the message that is being sent is that there is not overwhelming fan support. This message is not lost on the city of Oakland or Alameda county, both of which are needed if the Raiders are going to get that new stadium they covet. However, the message is coming through loud and clear to the Raiders that the fans aren’t coming out, and each non-sellout pushes the Raiders closer to considering a third move.

With the fans not coming out, the Raiders are not making the gate money. They are already at an economic disadvantage by playing in a stadium with a minimum of luxury boxes. This is exacerbated by lack of sell-outs which further hurt not only the team’s immediate financial situation, but the long term valuation of the franchise.

When Al Davis moved the Raiders to Oakland prior to the 1982 season, there was no issue regarding sellouts. The Raiders had a streak of home sell-outs that stretched over a decade long. The issue was the small capacity of the Coliseum and that it only held 54,000 people, as well as the lack of luxury boxes. The prospect of playing in a stadium with a capacity over 90,000, followed by a promised brand new state of the art stadium complete with luxury boxes was too much to pass up.

As it stands, the Coliseum as it was reconfigured in 1996 has a capacity of 62,000. It does have luxury suites in both the East Side and West Side clubs. However, the sales of the club seats have not lived up to expectations, nor has attendance.

Year Attendance Record
1995 423,376 8 – 8
1996 425,018 7 – 9
1997 375,499 4 – 12
1998 386,548 8 – 8
1999 497,041 8 – 8
2000 462,515 12 – 4
2001 472,091 10 – 6
2002 485,092 11 – 5
2003 440,063 4 – 12
2004 405,936 5 – 11
2005 418,450 4 – 12
2006 467,964 2 – 14
2007 472,876 4 – 12
2008 462,800 5 – 11
Yearly avg 442,519

The Raiders are on a pace for approximately 390,000 attendance. That would be the lowest home attendance figure since 1998 when the Raiders drew 386,000. It is also only 85% of the average annual attendance.

This is a pivotal time for the future of the Raiders in Oakland, and the message that is being sent is one that Oakland is not supporting the Raiders.

Developer Ed Roski has received the green light for building a new stadium in the City of Industry in the LA area. Since the Raiders have ties to that area having called it home from 1982-94, they are always one of the first teams mentioned when it comes to a team moving to LA. As it stands, the Raiders lease with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum ends in 2010. That would basically make the Raiders a pending free agent and a very tempting target for the LA stadium.

The Raiders have also been exploring options for a much needed stadium in the East Bay. In 2007 Mark Davis approached the city of Dublin about using some surplus Camp Parks land for a new stadium and was rebuffed. There has also been talk of the Raiders and Niners sharing a stadium in the South Bay. More recently the Raiders have been working on a proposal to build a new stadium/retail area in the same area as the current Coliseum.

The clock is counting down towards the end of the lease, and the fans need to show the Raiders and Oakland that they want their team in Oakland.

You can also find Patrick Patterson on EXAMINER.com!
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