The beloved, historic, iconic Oakland Raiders franchise will be moving to Las Vegas, the third National Football League team in the last sixteen months to announce plans to abandon a city for greener, publicly funded pastures.
The people of San Diego, who lost the Chargers to Los Angeles, and those in St. Louis, who lost the Rams, also to Los Angeles, can commiserate over the sting of giving their hearts to a sport that loves corporate welfare more than its own fans. But the situation in Oakland is particularly cruel. In Raider Nation, the insults are piling on top of the injuries.
First the insults: The Raiders will be playing in Oakland for at least two more years, while their new coliseum is being built in Vegas. That means the notoriously pugnacious Raider Nation fans will either vote with their feet and not show up, or turn every Sunday into a contest to see who can burn the most effigies of team owner Mark Davis.
Then there is the insult that Davis, in a move that redefines chutzpah, will be raising ticket prices by an average of 40 percent for the upcoming season.
Lastly, there is the insulting fact that, for the first time in fifteen years, the Raiders are actually good. More than good, they are a dynamic franchise led by arguably the best young quarterback in the game: Derek Carr. Yet there was Carr in April saying that those in the Bay Area who were protesting the move, burning their season tickets, or wearing shirts that say "Traitor Nation" aren't "true Raider fans." Gee, thanks Derek.
But the injury is even worse than the insults. The Raiders already play in a publicly subsidized stadium and the people of Alameda County, which surrounds the city of Oakland, must still pay $13 million a year in stadium taxes until 2025. That's roughly $95 million. This seems to be good grounds for a tax revolt, but there is another strategy worth pursuing.
I spoke to Neil deMause, author of Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money into Private Profit, and he said that instead of a tax revolt, citizens should try a different strategy.
In general, he told me, it's a bad idea for local governments to default on debts, since it can affect their borrowing interest rates in the future.
"Given that it's only' $95 million left to pay, it's probably best to write this off as a sunk cost racked up by elected...