The Oakland Raiders have been at the center of relocation news for the past several years. City lobbying and stadium negotiations will continue until a decision is made on the right move for the franchise.
Although the future of the team appears to be secure with a franchise quarterback in Derek Carr, and cornerstones such as Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper in place, the team’s future in Oakland is not certain.
The Raiders and Oakland remain divided on negotiations and a proposed $1.3 billion stadium deal has been deemed unacceptable by Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to BleacherReport’s Jason Cole.
The alternative gaining the most momentum is the potential relocation to Las Vegas. However, this option recently took a hit when billionaire casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson pulled out of the Las Vegas stadium deal.
Other than relocating to Las Vegas, there has been another option floating around of relocating to San Diego—although this outcome seems to be the least likely.
In this stadium project, and relocation effort, there are many moving parts that have garnered most of the attention: financing, development, urban planning, owner approval, and more.
However, there is a major factor that has not been considered that proves to be particularly intriguing in making Oakland the most attractive option, and best long-term business opportunity: the proximity to Silicon Valley and the advantage it provides.
In sports, geography can provide a competitive advantage in attracting marquee players. We often see major markets, that are deemed “attractive destinations”, win out. Places such as New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and even Miami fall under this category as they each have a unique value proposition to offer professional athletes.
For a long time, Oakland was not included in this category—that is until the Warriors current ownership group came along.
The Golden State Warriors have proven that Oakland, and its proximity to Silicon Valley, can be a value proposition to sell players on the idea of joining the team. We saw this with the signing of free agent Andre Iguodala in 2013 and most notably with this past summer’s signing of former MVP, Kevin Durant.
There is a reason that the Bay Area has become an attractive destination.
We live in a society where technology continues to penetrate more functions of our everyday lives. Those that are adaptable and willing to educate themselves on this space will be best positioned for the future, and the burgeoning business opportunities it presents. The Bay Area is the best place to take advantage of such opportunities and athletes are recognizing that.
In Oakland, management can offer free agents an ideal geographic location with a myriad of business opportunities (investment, endorsement, sponsorship, future employment, etc.).
This proves to be intriguing as there is increasing awareness around the ‘Broke’ issue that many former athletes have suffered from, along with a limited playing window and the ever-present threat of injury. As a result, athletes are becoming more conscious of their finances and business endeavors outside of the arena.
The athletes that begin to prepare for their post-career lives, while they are still playing, will be best positioned for continued success. The Silicon Valley acceptance of failing, learning, and bouncing back provides an ideal environment for athletes to experiment and to reinvent themselves as they move on from sports and find their second calling.
The environment is not only favorable to the players but to the franchise as well.
The franchise is surrounded by companies on the cutting edge of innovation. They don’t need to look far to find companies creating breakthroughs in sports analytics, fan experience, and player performance technology that will revolutionize the sport and how it is experienced. This positions the organization to be early adopters of technology that can provide an edge on the field, and in the stadium, which affects the bottom line.
With the high concentration of tech companies there are virtually limitless business opportunities. Some of the most valuable companies in the world call the Bay Area home—Alphabet, Apple, and Google. This presents opportunities for partnerships and sponsorships. These companies also attract the best and the brightest from all around the world which gives the Raiders a pool of highly talented individuals to fill out positions through every level of their organization.
Silicon Valley provides immense opportunity for the Raiders that the organization has yet to take advantage of. The resources are in place for the Raiders to be the beneficiary of the best talent and technology that can take the team’s performance and valuation to another level. The Golden State Warriors have proven to be a successful model. If replicated, the Raiders can become the gold-standard of the NFL. This is an advantage that Las Vegas and San Diego cannot provide.
March 9 will be an important date to uncover the future of the Raiders, as team leadership will be presenting to the Las Vegas Stadium Authority Board regarding relocation.
A few crucial factors will play a role in how the Raiders stadium saga plays out: the city of Oakland’s ability to afford two stadiums, the recent development of the buyout of the lead investor for the Oakland stadium deal, the ability to secure private funding in Vegas, and the NFL owners’ approval of relocation.
Regardless of the decision, Oakland has proven itself to be an attractive market for a professional sports franchise. Arguably the best destination of the available options is to remain right at home, in Oakland.
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