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Raiders owner rips Oakland Athletics’ likely move to Las Vegas

Updated April 21, 2023 - 7:34 pm

Mark Davis says he doesn’t want to sound negative. But he also says he has a long memory. Ten years long, as it pertains to the Oakland Athletics’ potential move to Las Vegas.

The Raiders and Athletics had a lengthy and often contentious relationship as “roommates,” as Davis puts it, at the Oakland Coliseum. The two franchises sought better accommodations, and the Raiders of course moved out of Oakland for the L.A. Coliseum in 1982, moving back to an expanded Oakland Coliseum in 1995.

The two teams coexisted, often uncomfortably, in the dual-use stadium until the Raiders moved to Las Vegas in 2020.

“I won’t forget what they did to us in Oakland. They squatted on a lease for 10 years and made it impossible for us to build on that stadium,” the Raiders owner said in a phone chat Thursday afternoon, referring to the stadium the A’s and Raiders once shared, the Oakland Coliseum.

“They were looking for a stadium. We were looking for a stadium. They didn’t want to build a stadium, and then went ahead and signed a 10-year lease with the city of Oakland and said, ‘We’re the base team.’”

The A’s lease with the city precluded the Raiders from making improvements on the Coliseum, an outdated facility dating to 1966, or building a football-only stadium on the site. The absence of a new stadium option in the East Bay led Davis to review sites in Las Vegas.

Davis said the A’s angled to have the entire Bay Area market to themselves, even as the Raiders were still playing in Oakland.

“They marketed the team as ‘Rooted in Oakland,’ that’s been their mantra through the whole thing,” Davis said. “The slogans they’ve been using have been a slap to the face of the Raiders, and they were trying to win over that type of mentality in the Bay Area. Well all they did was f—- the Bay Area.”

“Rooted in Oakland” was developed by the A’s as the team pursued its now-stalled Howard Terminal project in the East Bay.

“For them to leave Oakland without anything is pretty (screwed) up,” Davis said. “Because that site that the stadium was on was a good site.”

A spokesman for the Athletics declined to comment.

Bay Area talk aside, Davis emphasizes the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas has worked out terrifically.

“We ended up in Las Vegas, which is absolutely fantastic and couldn’t be better,” Davis said. “But the A’s never gave us a real good chance to stay up in Oakland.”

Davis said he had no ill will against those taking the field in A’s uniforms.

“I have nothing against the players. I was an A’s fan, way back in the day, Reggie Jackson and all those guys. Reggie’s a good friend,” Davis said. “But not this management group, no.”

As reported earlier, A’s owner John Fisher and team president Dave Kaval have entered a purchase agreement for 49 acres west of the Strip at Dean Martin Drive and Tropicana Avenue. The proposed stadium would feature a retractable roof, seat 30,000 and cost $1.5 billion.

The plot is owned by Station Casinos’ parent company, Red Rock Resorts, and site of the Wild Wild West hotel-casino (sometimes referred to as “The Tri-Dub,” by locals). Frank Fertitta III is the company chairman and CEO. Lorenzo Fertitta is vice chairman. The brothers are Las Vegas natives.

Davis said he didn’t know enough about the specifics of the A’s-Red Rock agreement to comment on the partnership. But he did offer, “Let’s see what the community benefits plan is. That’s a big part of it.”

Davis pointed to some positive elements of the A’s potential move to his adopted home city. He said Laborers Local 872 secretary-treasurer Tommy White’s construction crew “will do a hell of a job building this stadium, and it creates jobs, and that’s a great thing.”

With Davis steering the outreach effort, the Raiders have become effective civic partners with the Vegas Golden Knights and Las Vegas Aces. The Raiders co-host a charity softball game with the Golden Knights at Las Vegas Ballpark. And Davis was so fond of the Aces, he bought the team.

Davis was asked if he could envision an environment where the Silver and Black would cross-promote with the green-and-gold Las Vegas Athletics.

“Not with that management group,” Davis said. “I just have, again, a lot of personal animosity toward the front office. But with a new management group? Absolutely.”

Contact John Katsilometes at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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