Do sports owners play fans for suckers? Fans don’t really want that question brought up or answered because they may find out something they really don’t want to know as in the answer being yes. Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is playing his customer-fan base in Oakland and in surrounding Bay Area communities for suckers. Davis wants to sell luxury boxes and club seats in Oakland yet he seems to be undermining his product, Raiders football, by talking about his commitment to Las Vegas, not Oakland.
Davis’ Oakland problem actually goes back to his father Al’s decision to return to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995. Oakland and Alameda County used taxpayers’ money to renovate the then three-decade old Coliseum. The government entities are paying down the debt on the stadium improvements and now Oakland doesn’t want to take on the cost of a new stadium while paying down a present bill on the 1995 construction. Davis did get an offer from Las Vegas, actually more of an outline to build a stadium in the city. Sheldon Adelson and the Sands Hotel could put up one hundred million dollars and Davis a half billion, and Las Vegas still would have to figure out how to use various taxing tools for the $700 million dollars of public money to finance the stadium.
There is no state of the art Las Vegas facility and there seems to be no desire by Oakland politicians to make Davis happy with a new money-making plant for his business. Just where does that leave the customers and/or fans, you ask? Actually, they are on the outside looking in. The people who sit in the seats in the Black Hole and pay for those seats and support Davis’ business have no say in where Davis goes. Fans are abused while owners just look for opportunities to make money. Fans don’t count. Public subsidies are more important for owners.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.