With all of the recent difficulties in the NFL, including player behavioral issues off the field, the league’s bad boy team, the Oakland Raiders, don’t get much respect from their fan base. They should move.
There are 32 teams in the NFL, and one team is consistently the worst supported in the league — the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has had its difficulties getting fan attendance, moving to Los Angeles and back again. But as big as L.A. and Oakland are, their stadiums have always been underfunded and the fans showed weak support for pro football, as witnessed by the Raiders waffling and the departure of the Rams in 1995.
So let’s look at the absence of Alameda County residents at their home games. The last several years, Oakland has only been able to muster 50,000 fans per home game, worst in the league, compared to the average of 68,000. Even “small” market cities, such as Buffalo and New Orleans, each with 1.1M people, can muster 66K and 72K fans per home game, respectively.
But the Raiders have a good, recognizable brand, and their merchandise is often purchased in the most surprising of cities around the globe, even if it is favored by those in “rough” neighborhoods. So rather than fold, they should move to a city that would respect them.
If I owned the Raiders, I would would relocate them to San Antonio. Why?
1) Fanbase. There are 3.5 million people in the San Antonio / Austin area. If just 2% of that population attend the home games, they would be in the top 1/3 of of NFL teams for home attendance. The have the fan base potential.
2) Freaks. People in Texas just love football — they’re freaks for it. Boys grow up playing Pop Warner. College football loyalty is fierce. Old ladies watch it on Saturdays. The Alamo Bowl brings in over 65,000 fans every time a Texas-based university is invited.
3) Space. San Antonio and Austin are just an hour drive from each other, so a new stadium located in the space between then, say, near New Braunfels, will easily find room to construct a 21st century, 80,000-seat stadium and will fill from both the north and the south on I-35.
4) Separated. San Antonio is 175 miles from the Houston Texans stadium and 250 from the Dallas Cowboys stadium. Those two teams don’t have to worry too much about fan loss with the appearance of a new franchise. Besides, Dallas has an overabundance of fans and can spare a few from the south.
5) Attitude. San Antonio can pull off the Raiders’ attitude. With their Wild West and Alamo history, plus Austin’s “Keep It Weird” approach to life, there is enough swagger there to make themselves Raiders fans with their ‘tude.
With all the troubles in the NFL, it’s time for a surprise move, if only for a wake-up call to lazy NFL fans who don’t go support their local team. Move the Raiders to San Antonio and leave the Al Davis era behind.