The 2015 NFL Draft Should Be In Oakland. Period.
As the NFL considers Chicago and LA as host cities for the 2015, NFL Draft, I say that Oakland, home of the Oakland Raiders, should be at the front of that list.
I say that from a unique perspective, as I’ve covered the NFL Draft in New York for the last nine years straight, and such that I know Oakland can not only host the NFL Draft, but do so in a way that many will talk about for generations to come. Here’s one of my many videos from my time covering the NFL Draft in New York:
Moreover, Oakland, is a storied NFL City, that’s arguably one of the cradles of the birth of the modern NFL as we know it.
Consider that the late Oakland Raiders Owner Al Davis was AFL Commissioner, and took actions that forced the merger of the AFL and the NFL, bringing teams like the Raiders, the Buffalo Bills, and the Kansas City Chiefs into the National Football League.
Also consider that Oakland fought to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, even to the point of rebuilding the Oakland Coliseum, and yet, has not hosted a Super Bowl Game. Our Super Bowl: Oakland bid, which I led the preparation and presentation of, was formed under duress and the cloud of the team’s lawsuit against the NFL in 2000; now, no such rancor exists.
But what does exist is the chance, yet again, of Raiders movement away from Oakland. So, once again, Oakland’s fans are placed in the position of having to save their team, save Oakland sports, and prove their mettle. An NFL Draft here in Oakland would be a just reward for them, and remind all that Oakland’s a great city, which deserves to be part of the NFL.
There are several technical reasons why Oakland’s the best choice for the 2015 NFL Draft, and, arguably, for NFL Drafts to come.
We have not one, but two theaters with stages as large as Radio City Music Hall: The Fox Oakland and The Paramount Theater. Both seat a total of 5,800 people (2,800 for the Fox and 3,000 for The Paramount) and are within two blocks of each other in Downtown Oakland.
Here’s the Fox Theater as it looked in my video-blog during its grand re-opening gala that I attended in 2009:
I checked the schedule dates and both theaters are available. We could have the NFL Draft such that the Fox Theater is for the NFL Draft main stage, and the Paramount is over-flow for NFL Draft watching.
Since Telegraph Avenue connects the two venues, we could close off the portion of that street from 18th up to 20th and make it a kind of NFL Draft Experience. A player could be introduced at The Fox Theater, then “take the walk” up Telegraph Avenue, waving to fans along the way, before going to the Paramount Theater to walk the stage and wave to fans, and then down stairs to meet the press.
The NFL Draft Experience has been done before, and at the 2009 NFL Draft in New York City. There, the league took over a city block and featured games for kids. But that gave way to NFL Play 60, first in Central Park, and then at Chelsea Waterside Park in Manhattan. Here’s Cal’s Javid Best at NFL Play 60 in 2010:
In Oakland, we can revive that, and use the league’s Super Bowl Experience set up as a guideline, then focus it on Telegraph Avenue. Plus, with a wealth of Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers NFL Alumni, not to mention Cal and Stanford football greats, The Oakland NFL Draft Experience on Telegraph could be designed to have a kind of giant family reunion with players and fans alike. Here’s me with Stanford and Oakland Raiders Legend Michael Dotterer during the 2006 NFL Draft, as he talks about advise for NFL rookies:
That walk from the Fox Theater to the Paramount Theater alone would be huge for the restaurants along that part of Telegraph Avenue, and for many businesses in Downtown Oakland as a whole. Office supply stores would get new business from contractors who have needs for various related activities. Ridership for AC Transit along that corridor of Downtown Oakland would spike. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART Trains) would see high levels of service, as if a small downtown baseball stadium were built in Oakland.
The Oakland Marriott City Center could serve as the NFL Hotel (Marriott is The NFL’s Hotel chain sponsor) and we have a Courtyard by Marriott next door. Additionally, we have the Oakland Airport Hilton for more NFL needs, and it’s close to Oakland International.
What About NFL Play 60?
NFL Play 60 has historically used parks as the backdrop for its NFL work to promote fitness in school. Oakland has many great possible places, but one gem of an area that stands out to me would be the Lakeside Park Garden Center, which is just eight blocks from what would be The Oakland NFL Draft Experience on Telegraph Avenue.
In back of the Lakeside Park Garden Center is a field that has been used to stage outdoor plays, and is large enough for the kind of NFL-recreation events held at Play 60. The Lakeside Park Garden Center itself has enough room to be subdivided and used for NFL and player-related activities, as well as NFL staff needs.
Oakland Can Do This!
Oakland can host the 2015 NFL Draft. I do at least ask that the NFL seriously consider Oakland, and that Oakland Raiders Owner Mark Davis and Oakland elected officials and business leaders and boosters and most of all, Oakland Raiders fans get behind this proposal.
What About San Francisco?
As San Francisco is the host of the 50th Super Bowl, but lacks the available and appropriate event space to host the NFL Draft as Oakland can, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco 49ers Owners John and Jed York could really help “prime the pump” for the 50th Super Bowl by getting behind this idea. It would also work to end anyone’s claim that Oakland didn’t have its own time in the NFL sun as we approach Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
Oakland can do this!