As NFL owner meetings creep closer, advocates and fans of the Oakland Raiders are pulling out all the stops in hopes of preventing the East Bay team's exodus to Las Vegas.
The Oakland Coliseum Economic Impact and Legal Action Committee on Sunday welcomed fans of the "Silver and Black" and other grassroots organizations to participate in a "Fan and Community Conference." The ultimate intent of Sunday's meeting was to make sure every Raiders fan group was on the same page: support NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott's plan to finance a brand new home for the Raiders in Oakland.
"We know that the Ronnie Lott plan with Fortress Investment (Group) is a viable option from our perspective," OCEILAC chairman Raymond Bobbitt said.
"We're going to do everything we can to support that from a community and fan perspective."
OCEILAC said in a statement that uprooting the Raiders is in "blatant disregard of loyal patronage," and the move would cause "irreparable damages to the surrounding community of working class households."
Jorge Cruz, who admittedly is a fan of the New York Giants, is still stepping up to show support for keeping "Raider Nation" in the East Bay.
"When you think of the NFL, there's certain franchises that are so important and their fanbases mean everything to the NFL," he said. "You think Oakland, you think Raiders. They are just synonymous with each other."
In recent weeks, the team's proposed plan to jump ship and set sail for "Sin City" seemed to be in jeopardy after casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in February pulled his $650 million promise to help fund a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat domed stadium. Investment firm Goldman Sachs, the Raiders' other primary financial backer at the time, then pulled their promise one day after Adelson made his decision.
Left in a serious hole, Raiders' owner Mark Davis and the East Bay organization received its break weeks later. The team on Monday informed the NFL stadium and finance committees that Bank of America would financially support the Las Vegas stadium project.
A $750 million chunk collected via a hotel tax in Las Vegas, and $500 million from the NFL and the Raiders will help foot the bill for the proposed stadium. Bank of America will pick up the rest.
Twenty four of the NFL's 32 owners still need to approve the relocation move. That vote could be decided during owner meetings at the end of March or later in the spring. The Raiders will stay play in Oakland during the 2017-2018 campaign regardless of the owners' decision.
Meanwhile, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and investors, including Lott, remain committed to keeping the Raiders in the East Bay. The team is attempting to finalize a plan that would result in a $1.25 billion, 55,000-seat stadium being built in Oakland.
"We feel like everything to keep the Raiders here is here," Bobbitt said. "We have the infrastructure. We have the transportation infrastructure. We have the site. The land has been allocated. Equally important, the (Oakland Athletics) have different leadership now and there's a lot more flexibility as it relates to the relationship with the Raiders. There's absolutely no reason why the Raiders shouldn't stay here."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.