Folks in Oakland have something to smile about—the Golden State Warriors reclaiming the NBA championship—and something to be sad about—the Oakland Raiders heading to Las Vegas.
But even Oakland’s NBA championship has its downside. Plans are underway to move the team out of Oakland and into San Francisco.
Sure the two areas are like sister/brother. However, the impact on predominantly Black Oakland could be devastating from an economic standpoint. Vendors such as Southern Café and other establishments in Oakland near the stadium, as well as those who sell memorabilia, will definitely take a hit in revenue, especially those that line the streets near the Raiders’ and Warriors’ current venues.
In the Los Angeles area, the city has not one, but two professional football teams with the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams, who recently moved back into the city from St. Louis and is set to receive a bit of a boon with a new stadium in the works that will bring jobs and revenue into the Inglewood area.
Bad news for Oakland
While they may be thrilled in Southern California with both the Chargers and the Rams coming into the area and fueling the fire for a new stadium in Inglewood, Oakland is reeling from a double whammy with both the Raiders and Warriors leaving the area. No one has put the loss into economic terms, but surely it runs into the millions, mostly on the area’s Black community.
The biggest hit, though, may come from the loss of the team on the community.
“It will have a huge impact on the minority businesses and the community and the people that work at Oracle,” says Lester Conner, who grew up in Oakland and actually played with the Warriors. “A lot of people that I went to high school with still work there … mothers and fathers and friends … I’m hoping that the people that work there can still go and have an opportunity to work at the San Francisco facility. I’m hoping they get the first option to do that.”
He adds, “It’s a sad day for the community. I still think of growing up in the area, which is still predominantly Black. The Warriors and Raiders games bring people together … like when fathers and sons go to the games together, and families get together to watch the games.”
Conner says it’s really not about a lack of support for either team. “But this is about big money, even though it will mean the loss of jobs in the community. They’re taking a winning product out of a community that hasn’t had a lot to cheer about in recent years.”
Indeed, Oakland has a rich history in producing top-notch professional sports figures, including Conner, Gary Payton and Marshawn Lynch, just to name a few. In fact, Lynch will be playing for the Raiders this year, increasing the team’s shot at going all the way.
Conner adds, “Without the big money behind a new arena … that’s part of the attraction for a team to move. Oakland won’t be able to host a Super Bowl because our facilities are so inadequate. And Black businesses are going to take a hit when these two teams move.”
Phillip Bell owns Southern Café, which has two locations in the Oakland area, with one just 15 minutes from the Oracle where the Warriors play. He says he’s not sure how much the moves will hurt his businesses economically because his restaurants boasts big flat screen TVs and people come to eat and watch the games.
But for him, a Warriors season ticket holder, moving the team will be a major inconvenience. Normally, he just has to drive about 15 minutes, but once the team moves, he says the drive is much longer, and it will be in heavier traffic.
As to his restaurants, “It won’t cause us to close but it will hit us in our pocketbooks,” he says. He thinks he’ll lose business, too, from fans because they are “mad.”
“Some are die-hard fans and will still support the Raiders, but some are mad and might not want to be supportive anymore. These are fans that were loyal and supported them when they weren’t winning.”
Bell says he’s hoping before the Raiders leave (they are scheduled to start play in Las Vegas with the 2020 season), they will make Oakland proud.
“I am hoping that before they go, they will win a Super Bowl.”
Crystal Cole, president of the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce, says that the impact will be emotional as well.
“One of the main impacts will be the loss of the team that the people here grew up with and have gotten attached to,” she said. “Emotionally, there is hurt.”
Like Conner, she says she is concerned about the loss of Black business as well. “When the fall comes and football season comes, a lot of entrepreneurs involved in selling memorabilia and T-shirts will lose out … that’s a big concern.”
The Warriors’ departure will also be felt. “We fought tooth and nail trying to keep them here,” she reflects. “A lot of people will go watch them across the way, but some businesses will feel the loss. They depend on revenue and traffic from those games.”
She adds, “Suppliers will suffer as well … like cleaners, those who produce everything from toilet paper to hot dogs, those who provide security work and anyone else that provides professional service to the arena.”
Marcus Thompson II, a writer for the San Jose Mercury News, calls the move by San Francisco to “steal” the Warriors, a “final slap in the face.”
“For 50 years, Oakland has embraced the Warriors. This city was the refuge back when San Francisco didn’t support the Warriors and then-owner Franklin Mieuli was ready to bounce to San Diego,” writes Thompson. “This region, with its rough edges and focus on loyalty, made the Warriors relevant when the franchise wasn’t shiny enough to attract San Francisco’s wealth. Oakland made the Warriors. The East Bay made the Warriors.”
Adds Thompson, “So even though the grass might be financially greener in San Francisco, the theme is common: this area isn’t good enough. This is about business, no doubt, about Warriors owner Jacob Lacob maximizing his investment. It’s about getting money. The problem with that is, the fans’ dedication wasn’t about money. “It was personal. It always will be. Business decisions don’t go over well in personal relationships. And when you chose the girl across the street, it really hurts. You have to be from here to understand why San Francisco is that.”
Jerome Davis, a business owner in Oakland, says, “The long and short of it is, it’s a bad thing. The Raiders bring a lot of joy to the Oakland community, whether they win or lose. It was a positive thing to do as a community. We’re going to have to find something to replace that void.”
Davis, also a Raiders season ticket holder, says people are sad, although they realize it’s not the Raiders’ fault. “The upside,” he says, “is that the Raiders are looking good, and we need to enjoy them while we can.”
Good news for Los Angeles
Los Angeles is celebrating the acquisition of the two new NFL franchises, a brand new stadium and the possibility of bringing jobs a championship, and most of all, an actual Super Bowl win to the city, but there are many who aren’t happy about it.
The San Francisco Chronicle called the Chargers move to L.A. “a total disgrace.”
“This is hard to fathom,” said a disconsolate Dan Fouts (who played with the Chargers for 14 seasons) on ESPN recently. But, counters SFC writer Bruce Jenkins, it really isn’t. Over the years, moves of NFL franchises have included the Rams to St. Louis and then back to L.A., the Browns to Baltimore, the Colts to Indianapolis and now the Raiders to Las Vegas, in addition to the Chargers leaving San Diego to move to L.A. “This is how the NFL operates, choosing greed over perspective and treating fans like a big pile of garbage,” Jenkins wrote.
Football is probably America’s most popular sport, with pee wee teams and junior and senior high teams, and of course, college teams in just about every community across the land. But it’s also about money, big money.
Super Bowls bring in millions and millions of dollars to cities, feeding the transportation, hotel, food and memorabilia industries. Recent estimates put figures at nearly $200 million in revenue for the host city, according to Quicken.
No doubt, the pending move of the Golden State Warriors from Oakland to San Francisco is driven by the almighty dollar. But it also stings the Oakland community, which is predominantly Black, by taking away a source of pride as well as economic opportunities.
According to BlackNews.com, San Francisco has a $14 billion annual tourism industry while Oakland has an $800 million annual tourism industry.
Inglewood stadium offering opportunities for African Americans
Los Angeles’ new stadium, scheduled to be ready for play by the 2019 football season, comes at an estimated cost of $2.6 billion. To put that into perspective, the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey cost a bit more than $1 billion and is currently considered the NFL’s most costly venue. It’s more expensive than Las Vegas’ new stadium, which is slated to cost $2.1 billion and be ready for the start of the 2020 season.
The 80,000-seat stadium, which does not yet have an official name, is being built on 300 acres in the Inglewood community a few miles from downtown L.A. It’s being billed as an “NFL Disney World,” reports CNN. In addition to both the Rams and the Chargers hosting games there, the stadium will also be used for concerts and other entertainment-oriented events.
Part of the lure of the new stadium is its promise to be designed to hold more than sporting events. While a lot of football stadiums are generally too massive for major events such as awards shows, it’s a different story in L.A. where venues such as the Staples Center, which has hosted the Grammys since 2004, holds about 20,000 people, and is home to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Emmys, ESPYs, AMAs, BET Awards and People’s Choice Awards prefer the 7,100-seat Microsoft Theater at adjacent L.A. Live.
Designers of the new stadium in Inglewood are aware of the venue’s potential and are designing it to be multi-purpose, reports the Hollywood Reporter.
The stadium, which boasts 3.1 million square feet in size, offers good news for the area’s Black community—a big chunk of the contractors that will be hired to build it are to be designated to minority businesses, as much as 30 percent, says Angela Gibson Shaw, president of the Greater Los Angeles African America Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC).
“The prime contactors getting the bids hire a lot of local minority subcontractors,” she said referring to the building of the basic structure. “Then there’s the interior to the stadium … minority firms will be able to bid to do the plumbing, the piping and the seeding … also, the teams offer marketing opportunities for promo items. With the stadium being built in Inglewood, city officials have a goal of 30 percent of minority participation. And that ranges from jobs in management to opportunities for servers.”
Gibson Shaw also added that there will be a whole “underground marketplace going on” with vendors that sell near the gate and outside in the parking lot and on the street near the venue, as well as area restaurants, such as Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, that will benefit.
“It’s a cycle,” she says. “The new stadium is energizing the community, unfortunately, at the cost of another community.”
The Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce (GLAAACC) president encourages potential contractors and vendors to act now to get their businesses in order to have a real opportunity to score stadium-related contracts.
“It’s important that small minority businesses get prepared,” she says. “Get educated, get certified … they need to have their house in order because opportunities are going to whiz by.”
“And that’s what we do here, she adds. “We’re ready to help folks get ready … the time is now to get ready to be able to bid.”
Access GLAAACC at (323) 292-1297 or at www.GLAAACC.org.