Oakland in Mourning Over Raiders’ Decision to Stay in LA
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ The ″Welcome Home Oakland Raiders″ banner draped across the front of Ricky’s Sports Lounge and Restaurant had beckoned fans of the football team for almost a year. Now, sadly, it was coming down.
″It’s like a wake,″ said owner Ricky Ricardo, who folded the 35-foot sign and placed it lovingly under his arm Tuesday. ″It’s done.″
Hours earlier, the Los Angeles Raiders, who moved out of Oakland in 1982, signed a 20-year contract to continue playing at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles. The move ended years of efforts to bring the team back home.
At the adjacent Sports Team Shop, which Ricardo also owns, employees scrubbed Raiders symbols from the windows. A sale of T-shirts and other items boosting the silver and black will be held soon, he said.
″They could become collectors’ items someday,″ he said.
The mood was somber at the bar, where many fervent Raiders fans hang out.
Don Maroney publishes a newsletter catering to the faithful who hoped to see the team return to the city of its birth. ″I guess this will shoot it down,″ Maroney said of the publication, which claims a readership of 23,000.
The Oakland Raiders, which began in 1960 and were National Football League champions three times, moved to Los Angeles despite years of sold-out games in Oakland.
But poor turnout at the huge Memorial Coliseum had Raiders owner Al Davis hunting for a new home over the past several years. Oakland, as well as the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale and Sacramento, submitted offers.
Oakland appeared to have the inside track with an offer that was initially estimated at $692 million, then shrank to about $400 million. But widespread dissatisfaction from city residents forced city officials to scrap the pact.
Oakland and Alameda County ended up offering the Raiders $127 million for renovations at the Oakland Coliseum and a $31.9 million loan. But it was not enough.
″What must be must be, that’s all,″ Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson said Tuesday. ″As far as I’m concerned, Oakland and the county did their best to try and work out something satisfactory and it just didn’t work out.″