AN $18,000 INVESTMENT BECAME $2.9B
HOW THE RAIDERS MADE $189 MILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY VANISH
The Las Vegas Raiders History, let's start at the beginning. The entire history is fascinating as it includes several moves and illustrates how sports franchises take advantage of city and state governments.
The Oakland Raiders were a professional football team in a new Football League, the American Football League, that represented the first real threat to the National Football League.
The Las Vegas Raiders played in Oakland, California as the Oakland Raiders from its founding in 1960 to 1981 and again from 1995 to 2019 before relocating to the Las Vegas metropolitan area. Between 1982 and 1994, the team played in Los Angeles as the Los Angeles Raiders.
Mark Davis can thank Barron Hilton for the gift that became the Las Vegas Raiders. If the Oakland Franchise never came to be, Mark Davis never would have owned a football franchise.
What happened a few months after the inaugural American Football League draft in 1959, the owners of the yet-unnamed Minneapolis franchise accepted an offer to join the established National Football League as an expansion team in 1961, sending the AFL scrambling for a replacement. Somehow looking to Oakland who at the time, seemed an unlikely venue for a professional football team.
However, the AFL owners selected Oakland after Los Angeles Chargers owner Barron Hilton threatened to forfeit his franchise unless a second team was placed on the West Coast. Accordingly, the city of Oakland was awarded the eighth AFL franchise on January 30, 1960, and the team inherited the Minneapolis club's draft picks.
A limited partnership was formed to own the team headed by managing general partner Y. Charles (Chet) Soda, a local real estate developer, and included general partners Ed McGah, Oakland City Councilman Robert Osborne, F. Wayne Valley, restaurateur Harvey Binns, 1928 Olympic gold medalist Donald Blessing, and contractor Charles Harney, the builder of San Francisco's Candlestick Park, built on a bleak parcel of land he owned; the road leading to the stadium is known as Harney Way. This represented somewhat of an unsophisticated group of football franchise owners and was apparent by both attendance and team performance.
The Raiders finished 1–13 in 1962, losing their first 13 games (and making for a 19–game losing streak from 1961 and 1962) before winning the season finale, and attendance remained low.
After the 1962 season, the Raiders hired Al Davis, a former assistant coach of the San Diego Chargers, as head coach and general manager. At 33, he was the youngest person in over 30 years to hold the position of head coach, and the youngest person ever to hold the position of general manager, in professional football. Davis immediately changed the team colors to Silver and Black, and began to implement what he termed the "vertical game", an aggressive offensive strategy based on the West Coast offense developed by Chargers head coach Sid Gillman. Under Davis the Raiders improved to 10–4, and he was named the AFL's Coach of the Year in 1963. Though the team slipped to 5–7–2 in 1964, it rebounded to an 8–5–1 record in 1965. He also initiated the use of team slogans such as "Pride and Poise", "Commitment to Excellence", and "Just Win, Baby"—all of which are registered trademarks.
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