By: Tyler Chuck
Today is a sad day for the City of Oakland. With the news that the Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas after a near unanimous 31-1 vote (thanks to Miami for holding out), the East Bay is in a state of shocked finality. The saga is over. The Raiders are leaving.
Raider fans and Bay Area residents should take today be with their emotions. Regardless of how you feel, today should be a day to reflect. Go ahead and be frustrated. Burn those jerseys if you have to let it out. Yell, scream, play the blame game. There are a lot of people that you could blame for the Raiders leaving, including owner Mark Davis, the despicable Sheldon Adelson, and the City of Oakland with its Mayor Libby Schaaf. But the last of those three deserves no blame. Here are a few reasons you shouldn’t blame Libby:
1. Libby is an Oakland Advocate
As Mayor of Oakland, Libby has a lot more to look out for than just sports. Oakland has lots of problems such as crime, education, roads, and homelessness. And Libby has been a champion of all of these causes, allocating public funds to address important issues. I’ve met Libby in person and know that she cares about her city and its citizens. She spends long hours at community functions, spends time reading to children, and brings meals to the homeless. Above all, Libby is a public servant, one that cares about the city that she grew up in. We should not chastise her for making a very difficult decision to invest in the future of our children over the future of a professional sports team. As a Bay Area resident, Libby is on your side and doesn’t deserve blame for making a tough decision.
2. Libby is a Hard Worker
Libby Schaaf has worked very hard on the Raiders situation in Oakland. She has lobbied. She has sent letters. She has organized community members. She has done everything in her power to keep the Raiders in Oakland. She worked together with Ronnie Lott’s group to create a plan to keep the Raiders around. Mayor Schaaf’s effort was great, but it wasn’t enough to keep the team and sometimes that’s okay.
3. Libby Cares About Sports
One of my favorite aspects of Libby Schaaf is her prioritization of sports in the grand scheme of life. While she personally loves sports and their role in community building, they are not the be-all-end-all of what a community is about. When another city brings an unprecedented $750 million in public funding to the table, your city is just not going to be able to compete if you want to provide all the services that the citizens want and deserve.
Schaaf grew up a sports fan and was involved in athletics at Skyline High School in Oakland. She roots for the Raiders, Warriors, and A’s and frequently shows up their community events. Losing a team that she grew up with probably hurts Libby just as much as it does anyone else. With her deep passion for sports, Libby will do whatever it takes to make sure that the A’s can build a stadium in Oakland. Mark my words, the A’s will stAy in Oakland.
4. She Inherited a Difficult Situation
Mayor Schaaf inherited an extremely difficult situation that was simply too bad to repair. Previous Oakland Mayor Jean Quan didn’t care much for sports and made teams feel unwelcome in the city. When she talked, it was clear that she didn’t have an interest in what sports brought to the community and didn’t understand the pride that Oakland had for its teams. Libby inherited years of Quan’s frustrating politics when it came to sports– a culture that would ultimately be too difficult to overcome.
The Oakland Coliseum is owned by two parties, the City of Oakland and Alameda County, and this made the negotiations more difficult to get done. The relationship between the City of Oakland and Mark Davis could best be described as “toxic.” Mark Davis felt disrespected by both city and county representatives and it was just too big of a hole to dig out of. Libby did what was best for the City of Oakland and let the team go.
Today sucks. There’s no way around it. Go ahead and be frustrated that the Raiders are the first NFL team to leave a city twice. Be frustrated that the announcement comes right as the team provides promise for the first time in a decade. At the end of the day, corporate economic forces have won out and the Raiders will be headed to their new home in a year or two. Vent in any way you need, but don’t blame Libby.
Cover Photo via Oakland Local