Oakland A's

Could City of Oakland be in play for future NFL expansion or relocation?

Professional sports franchises are leaving Oakland seemingly every year, with the departure of the Raiders and Warriors, but is it possible that the largest league of them all, the NFL, could be eyeing the East Bay as a possible relocation or expansion option?

In a column taking a look at myriad scenarios revolving around the Oakland Athletics’ quest for a new stadium — in Oakland, or potentially anywhere — Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle revealed he has one source that says “multiple” NFL team owners consider Oakland a future option for a NFL home city.

They’d have to build a stadium first, but the notion is intriguing. Mostly because it seems so unlikely.

But as Ostler points out, there’s no denying the strength of the Bay Area sports market. Here’s a portion of what he said in his robust column from Sunday, with some context preceding his bombshell (certainly to me) report.

Nielsen Ranking of media markets by size, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose is No. 6 with 2.7 million TV homes. Las Vegas is No. 40 with 0.8 million TV homes and would become MLB’s smallest market, below Milwaukee (No. 37, 0.9 million). Also working against this, the A’s would be the third pro team to dip into Las Vegas’ finite fan base and economic pool.

And Oakland, for all its faults, is big and vibrant. One source tells me that multiple NFL owners consider Oakland in play for expansion or relocation.

Scott Ostler/San Francisco Chronicle

It’s just one source, but this is still surprising, though it probably shouldn’t be. NFL team owners cited by the source are likely simply keeping their options open. (Ostler’s Las Vegas comparison, by the way, is there because Athletics management visited Nevada recently to tour a potential stadium site.)

Plus, and most obviously, Oakland would need a new stadium to accommodate a NFL team. One intriguing aspect there is that the neither the Athletics nor Major League Baseball consider the Oakland Coliseum site viable — and the NFL certainly would, I assume. Given a new stadium is constructed, of course.

So add another possible scenario to the pro-sports saga in Oakland. The A’s would be wise to figure their situation out quickly and protect their fertile ground in the Bay Area. They may have to soften their stance on their proposed $12 billion plan to build a ballpark and surrounding development right next to the vitally important Oakland Port.

They don’t seem willing now, but as the last team standing in the East Bay, and the NFL potentially prepared to pounce in the future, they’d be wise to consider it.

(Photo courtesy Wikipedia commons/BrokenSphere)

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