CARSON, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders took the field Sunday with “Viva Las Vegas” blasting from the speakers at the StubHub Center while fans emphatically cheered.
Think about that sentence for a second. The NFL team from Northern California being introduced to the iconic Las Vegas song as fans in Los Angeles applauded for the visiting team’s arrival.
Not much made sense during the Raiders’ first game in Los Angeles since leaving the city for Oakland 23 years ago. The Raiders are expected to move to Las Vegas before the 2020 season.
The Chargers were technically the home team Sunday, but it didn’t feel like it with Raider Nation taking over the 27,000-seat stadium meant for soccer. Again, huh? When did the Chargers leave San Diego?
Raiders fans have taken over the StubHub Center parking lot pic.twitter.com/6tZBxUOzaV
— Gilbert Manzano (@GManzano24) December 31, 2017
Things got more confusing when Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was booed for saying “Go Chargers” on the stadium microphone. The man just led Los Angeles to its first World Series appearance in 29 years and he can’t even get an applause.
But that’s Raider Nation. Either you’re with them or against them. That goes for relatives, too.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio was also in a weird predicament after having to lead his team for the final game of the season while rumors swirled about Jon Gruden taking his job. Del Rio announced after the Raiders fell to the Chargers 30-10 that he had just been fired.
Raiders fans tailgating before the game were torn about the potential coaching change. Many fans credited Del Rio for the team’s turnaround last season when the Raiders won 12 games and advanced to the postseason for the first time in 14 years.
“We’re good with Del Rio,” said Art Rojas, 52, from El Sereno, California. “We just need more defensive backs.”
Boy, did the Raiders need more defensive backs Sunday. Philip Rivers and the Chargers wide receivers carved up the Oakland secondary.
Raiders fans from Southern California also had mixed feelings about the team relocating to Las Vegas. Most were happy about the shorter drive to see the Silver and Black live. Others had their concerns.
“I heard different stories about no tailgating allowed at the new stadium, that casinos want to control everything,” said Daniel Montes, 36, from East Los Angeles. “But whatever happens, we’ll follow the Raiders and have a good time.”
Javi Marin, a high school government and economics teacher from Sacramento, saw it from a financial standpoint.
“My question is will Las Vegas accommodate to the demographics? Will it be affordable to the middle-class fans?” said Marin, who was raised in the Los Angeles area and saw his first Raiders game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when Bo Jackson was the star running back.
“Transportation is great in Oakland. How will it be in Las Vegas? Will tickets be expensive because of the new stadium?”
Eventually questions about the Las Vegas move and the Raiders’ coaching search will be answered. But for now, Raiders fans from Los Angeles were just happy to have their team back at home for one day.