This Day In Sports: Happier days in Oakland

August 7, 1995: The return of the Raiders to Oakland is finally made official when Al Davis signs a lease that commits the team to at least a 16-year stay at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Raiders would resume play in the Bay Area a month later. Davis had moved the team to Los Angeles in 1982. But the Raiders never really won over fans there. The L.A. Rams also moved to St. Louis in 1995, and the nation’s second-largest market went without NFL football until the Rams returned 21 years later.

Davis, who owned the Raiders from 1972 until his death in 2011, had tried to get improvements made to the Coliseum in 1981, but when his efforts failed, he opted for another Coliseum in L.A. The move was messy, as NFL owners voted 22-0 opposing the switch, but Davis ultimately won a court battle. He wasn’t happy with his new Coliseum for long. About four years in, Davis was seeking the luxury suites he said he was promised when he moved south, and short of that, he wanted a new stadium built for the Raiders in the L.A. area. He even considered moving the team to Sacramento.

Fed up, Davis began negotiations for a return to Oakland, and in 1990, he announced that he was moving the Raiders back to the Bay Area (more than five years before it actually happened). Then six months later, he announced a new deal to stay in L.A. By 1995, Oakland was in forgive-and-forget mode, and fans welcomed the Raiders back with open arms. The city put $220 million into renovations at the Oakland Coliseum, including a new 10,000-seat section that would become known as “Mount Davis.” (It ruined the ambience of the facility, blocking the view of the East Bay hills during baseball season.)

The landscape sure looks different now. The Raiders, of course, moved to Las Vegas in 2020. This time, the owners’ vote was 31-1 in support of Davis’s son, Mark, who (like his dad) had sought improvements to the aging Coliseum—or a new stadium. Oakland thus lost its cornerstone franchise. And it’s about to lose the A’s to Las Vegas as well. But fans are not going quietly, accusing owner John Fisher of gutting the team in order to erode support as an excuse for the move.

The “Sell the Team” movement has been impressive, from the fans’ “Reverse Boycott” night in June to the huge turnout over the weekend for the sweep of the cross-bay rival San Francisco Giants (the A’s are now 32-80). Saturday, Oakland fans handed out 10,000 “Sell the Team” tea towels, as well as “Unite the Bay” cheer cards. They’ve endured not only the loss of the Raiders, but also the Golden State Warriors, who moved to the new Chase Center in San Francisco in 2019. Enough with the gut-punches.

(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment during the football season on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra. He also anchors four sports segments each weekday on 95.3 FM KTIK and one on News/Talk KBOI. His Scott Slant column runs every Wednesday.)

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