The saga involving the Raiders franchise moving has been a strange one, especially for Texas.
At one point, there was speculation that Raiders owner Mark Davis might move the franchise to San Antonio (well, the San Antonio area, as a new stadium would’ve been built outside the city.) But serious talks of a move were never considered because of the massive power that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wields among NFL owners.
(Jones doesn’t want another team in Texas because the Cowboys own every major TV market in the state except Houston.)
But it looks like the NFL could still make it to San Antonio anyway, albeit temporarily. While the Raiders have been approved to move to Las Vegas and will be fitted with a brand new stadium, that new home won’t be ready to host games until the 2020 season.
The Raiders’ lease at Oakland Coliseum will be up at the end of the 2017 regular season with team options to continue playing there after each of the next two years. But there’s worry that with the announcement of the move, unless the Raiders can play themselves into Super Bowl contention right away, the fans will completely reject the team and no one will show up to the games, leaving a lot of money on the table and forcing the Raiders to move early for economic reasons.
There are three alternatives that are being discussed in the NFL. One is for the Raiders to share Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with the San Francisco 49ers, who are reportedly open to sharing the venue. But if Raiders fans don’t care to show up in Oakland, why would anyone show up less than an hour down the road?
Another option would be for the Raiders to play at Sam Boyd Stadium, which houses the UNLV Rebels football team. While it would be nice for the Raiders to get a head start on moving to Sin City, that stadium only holds about 35,000 fans, which the NFL wouldn’t be too happy about.
Once again, that’s money left on the table.
The other option might be the most intriguing: Playing two years in San Antonio and having the Alamodome host NFL games.
FYI on #Raiders: Depending on how things turn out in Oakland in 2017, don't rule out San Antonio as a possible temp venue next couple years— Vincent Bonsignore (@DailyNewsVinny) March 28, 2017
The Alamodome can seat more than 70,000 people for a football game, and the City of San Antonio is more than capable of hosting an NFL team on at least a temporary basis. The city would certainly have more prep time than the last time it hosted NFL regular season games: When the New Orleans Saints played three games at the Alamodome in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.
In fact, the City of San Antonio dedicated $50 million in upgrades to the facility that will be completed by the end of 2017, perfect timing for a showcase of what the 'dome would look like hosting NFL games.
But while all of that sounds like a deal too good for the NFL to turn down, the move does have a few hurdles to clear.
The Texans could object because they’d lose a hold on a major NFL market to another AFC team
San Antonio is the third-largest city in Texas, and while the Alamo City is still very much Cowboys Country, years of frustration for Dallas and the fact that Houston is always available to watch on another network has allowed the recent Texans’ success to make a larger mark on the Lone Star State.
Unlike the Cowboys, the Texans are big on promoting and expanding their brand around the state with tours and special appearances. They also support lobbying efforts by fans on the rare occasion that the Cowboys and Texans play on the same network at the same time.
If the Raiders temporarily played in San Antonio for two years, NFL fans and local media in Austin and San Antonio might give the Raiders time and resources that would less likely cut into Cowboys coverage and more likely cut into Texans coverage.
As I said before, San Antonio is Cowboys Country. There’s a reason that the Cowboys temporarily moved their training camp to the Alamodome and opened it to the public a few years ago. They knew that people would show up and the novelty would draw big money.
As a result, Jerry Jones has used his immense power to make sure that the State of Texas belongs to him as much as possible.
Would he stand for San Antonio gaining an NFL team for possibly two years and cutting into his profits? That doesn’t sound like Jerry Jones, does it?
I’m not over-exaggerating when I say Jones has a lot of power as an NFL owner. According to his bio on the team website, among his league duties, he’s the chairman of the NFL Network Committee, a member of the NFL Broadcasting Committee, and has previously been a member of the NFL’s Competition Committee, a group in which he still holds sway.
Jones is about money and power. If there’s a convincing argument for why he’d concede both of those so that the City of San Antonio could enjoy an NFL team, even temporarily, I can’t think of one.
So those are the reasons why San Antonio may or may not get the Raiders for a couple of seasons. Do you want the Raiders in town? More importantly, do you think it’ll happen?
Attendance and enthusiasm at the start of the upcoming NFL season will provide answers sooner rather than later.