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Grassroots Effort Underway To Bring African-American Owned NFL Team To Oakland

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- The Raiders opened up their season at home Monday night, far away from the Oakland Coliseum. While some fans are still getting used to the Las Vegas Raiders, a grassroots effort in Oakland is trying to bring back a team to the East Bay.

Instead of a game day energy at the Coliseum, it was a very different scene in East Oakland. It was like almost all signs of the Silver and Black have disappeared into a black hole.

The parking lot on Edgewater Drive, that is just blocks away from the Coliseum would've been packed on game day, as fans picked up a bite to eat. A popular spot to pick up Raiders gear has vanished from the strip mall, as well. A few miles away in San Leandro, the infamous watering hole of Raider Nation, Rickey's Sports Bar and Grill has shuttered its doors due to COVID-19. A surreal scene as the Raiders opened their season far away from home.

Ray Bobbitt, the Co-Chair of the African American Sport and Entertainment Committee says, "It's just very painful that we do not have the Raiders here and NFL football."

But near downtown Oakland, hard core Raider fans can be heard still cheering on their favorite team.

"First home game in Vegas it doesn't matter." Another fan, Ferman Swain adds, "They're still the Oakland Raiders to me. It's always going to sound weird saying Las Vegas Raiders," said fan Mary Jo Howard.

But the Raiders did show off their brand new $2 billion dollar home nicknamed the Death Star to the entire world on Monday Night Football, taking away jobs and dollars out of East Oakland.

"My brother and sister both worked concessions," said Bobbitt. "I sold things around the Coliseum so our communities relationship with the teams is really economic."

Bobbitt grew up in East Oakland and wants to bring an NFL team back to Oakland, one that predominantly African American owned.

"Our concept is to have an educational institution, to have a sports museum and convention center and have something to really help East Oakland," he said.

Bobbitt said he plans to send a list of potential principal owners to the NFL in about a month. The goal is to have a new stadium built and a team playing on the Coliseum site in three to five years.

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