By Kimberly Paschal | Sports Editor

Raiders fans desperately hoped their team would stay put in Oakland, but ownership had other plans. (Courtesy of CNN Money)

Raiders fans desperately hoped their team would stay put in Oakland, but ownership had other plans. (Courtesy of CNN Money)

As many NFL fans suspected and as the Raider Nation dreaded, the NFL owners voted 31-1 in favor of the Oakland Raiders relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada. Monday, March 27, will be a day many Raiders fans call heartbreaking and a betrayal. Founded in 1960, the Raiders began in Oakland, and remained there until they relocated to Los Angeles 1981. The Raiders later moved back to the Bay Area in 1995 and have been in Oakland ever since.

With their impending move to Las Vegas, the Raiders have definitely lost many of their faithful fans. Now, as a San Francisco 49ers fan myself, you may believe I could care less or have no interest in the move, but in fact I was extremely invested in this potential move. I, along with thousands of other football fans, question why the organization is leaving a city that has supported them through both the good and bad times.

The Oakland Raiders have a rich history with coaches like John Madden and Al Davis, players like Marcus Allen and Charles Woodsen, and three Super Bowl championships. Unfortunately, in recent times, the Raiders have been a bit mediocre. From the 2004-2014 seasons the Raiders experienced many hardships with mediocre coaches, disappointing seasons, and terrible performances, but through it all the Silver and Black stuck by their side.

I remember attending my first Raider game around the age of 10 or 11. I’ll never forget getting off BART at the Oakland Coliseum and seeing Raiders fans dressed as if they were going to war. Fans of other NFL teams always jokingly say Raiders fans are crazy, but they take the name fanatic and crazy to a whole new level. In my experiences talking to Raider fans, I’ve rarely ever heard them speaking ill of their team. The level of loyalty they have to their team is unprecedented and a bit inspiring. Imagine playing for the Raiders and knowing that through thick and thin your fans will be there for you, dressed in Silver and Black every Sunday. That’s loyalty.

With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas in 2020, many Raider fans are turned over a new leaf. Some are returning their season tickets, and many have said they are done. A select few have expressed interest in remaining a faithful member of the Silver and Black after the devastating news. Although many Raider fans understand the need for a new stadium, they believe the stadium could have been built in Oakland.

In fact, former NFL stars Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete led a group of investors and proposed a new stadium to the city of Oakland in June 2016. Billionaire Sheldon Adelson, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, proposed a new domed stadium in Las Vegas that would be the home of University of Nevada, Las Vegas and an NFL team. On Jan. 19, 2017, the Raiders officially filed paperwork with the NFL to relocate to Las Vegas by 2020. With the vote approved, the Raiders will spend the 2017 and 2018 seasons in Oakland.

With fans disappointed, angry, and feeling most of all betrayed, the next two seasons in Oakland will be a whirlwind. It is also a shame for Raiders fans to see their team pack up and leave especially after an amazing 2016 season. The Raiders finished with a 12-4 record and the fifth seed in the AFC. The Raiders move to Las Vegas means they get a brand new stadium, but it also speaks to the changing role of fan loyalty in sports.

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