San Antonio’s ongoing quest to become a sports city, rather than just the home of the Spurs, has been in the news again lately. It’s all well and good to be represented exclusively by the best franchise in American sports, but fully grown-up sports cities house both steady contenders and teams that suck — as any Cubs/White Sox/Bears fans who has suddenly found themselves feeling the Blackhawks can attest, diversifying your fandom is important. But in San Antonio, a bad Spurs season would leave the city looking for a AA Minor League San Antonio Missions bandwagon to hop, which is a bleak prospect. (Of course, the Spurs mitigate those concerns by simply not having bad seasons.)
Still, between the extremely unlikely prospect of hosting the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, the fact that San Antonio actually is back in the rotation for the NCAA Final Four basketball tournament, and the recurring teases that mmmmmmmaybe another pro sports franchise might want to head over, sports fans in the Alamo City have some new hope. And that includes City Manager Sheryl Sculley, who told the San Antonio Business Journal this week that she hasn’t given up hope that the San Antonio Raiders might still end up being a thing.
The Raiders, which have yet to secure a new stadium deal from Oakland, have continued to discuss with San Antonio leaders the possibility of moving to the Alamo City. League officials have taken note.
“We have certainly raised the attention of the NFL,” Sculley told me.
NFL owners are expected to meet in Chicago on Aug. 11 to address the plight of league franchises in Oakland, San Diego and St. Louis. […]
“We are following closely what is going on in California,” Sculley said. “We expect to hear what (the Raiders’) plans are for the 2016 season after that meeting.”
The fact that Sculley is still interested in the Raiders’ plans is surprising. Other local government officials such as Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff (who told the San Antonio Express-News that “sports franchises… lie to you”) are much more skeptical. But is she right to hold on to some hope?
Let’s look at the situation in Oakland: The team has no stadium lease for 2016 or beyond, and they’re not likely to have a new one built in the East Bay in time for the team to stick around. Their most likely landing place is Los Angeles, but that’s also the most likely landing place for the St. Louis Rams and the San Diego Chargers, who also hope to be playing games in L.A. by the start of the 2016 season.
L.A. hasn’t had a team since 1994, but they’re almost certain to go from zero teams to two in the next thirteen months. They aren’t going to land three teams, though, which means that if it’s the Raiders who end up jilted, anything could happen.
It’s definitely not likely that the Spurs are joined by a football team that also wears silver and black, but let’s be blunt: San Antonio has a better chance of landing the Raiders than they do winning either of their bids for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. To claim the Raiders, San Antonio needs three things: They need Los Angeles to get the Rams and the Chargers, they need the Raiders to really fall in love with San Antonio as a backup plan, and they need to agree to build a stadium for the team.
The first two are longer shots than the last. Oakland insiders reported that owner Mark Davis wasn’t really interested in San Antonio, which jibes with Wolff calling the team liars, but the three teams vying for a home in L.A. are essentially playing musical chairs, so there’s a two-out-of-three chance one of them is the Raiders. There’s enough money in San Antonio, and in the NFL, to get a stadium built if the Raiders agree to use the Alamodome as an interim site during construction.
Meanwhile, the reasons why the College Football Playoff National Championship Game is unlikely to pick San Antonio are even tougher to square: Rather than convince one owner that his team would be very happy in San Antonio out of a few competing locations, the city would need to convince a committee to pick them over a legion of other cities that have better-appointed venues and more attractive proposals. That’s not a knock on San Antonio — indeed, residents should take some pride in the fact that they opted to restrain spending on the Alamodome instead of pouring money into the venue in the hopes of luring a big game to the city — but let’s be real here.
In other words, “more likely than getting the College Football Playoff” shouldn’t be read as “likely” — but there’s one bizarre but tantalizing Raiders prospect out there that isn’t the team settling in to San Antonio as its permanent home. Last month, CBS NFL reporter Jason La Canfora, a fairly reliable source for NFL news, tweeted that the team is considering using San Antonio as a temporary base of operations even if they do plan to move to Los Angeles. L.A. lacks a clear-cut venue for the team to play in until a new stadium is built — the Los Angeles Coliseum, Dodgers Stadium, Angels Stadium, and the StubHub Center are all options, but none of them are ideal. But putting the Raiders in San Antonio for two years while an L.A. stadium is built would give the NFL the chance to test the waters in San Antonio for future moves and/or expansion.
All of this is to say that, for those clinging to hope that the Raiders will play some games in San Antonio, the prospects aren’t great — but there are even less likely sports proposals on the table.