Save Oakland Sports President, Chris Dobbins Discusses New Stadium Progress
John Doublin – Sep 3, 2012
A week ago today, Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan and city administrator Deanna J. Santana held the first ever "Oakland Loves It's Sports Teams" rally in front of city hall in Oakland, CA.
The purpose of the rally was to announce "Oakland Loves Its Sports Teams Week," which begins on September 10th when the Raiders host the San Diego Chargers to open the 2012 NFL Season, and will culminate on September 14th when the A's host the Baltimore Orioles at O.co coliseum.
Mayor Quan, a lifelong fan of all three teams, wants to show local fans of the Oakland Raiders, Oakland A's and Golden State Warriors that the city is well aware of the civic pride and economic impact the three professional teams bring to the East Bay, as well as her desire to do everything in her power to keep all three in Oakland.
At the forefront of this rally was the organization, Save Oakland Sports, (SOS). President of SOS, Chris Dobbins was kind enough to take part in a telephone interview with Raider Nation Times to discuss the recent rally, the current state of affairs with the quest for new facilities for the teams and future plans for the organization.
RNT: First of all, thanks for speaking with us.
Dobbins: Thanks for having me.
RNT: What is the mission of Save Oakland Sports?
Dobbins: To keep all three teams, the Raiders, A's and Warriors in Oakland.
RNT: What is your exact title with SOS?
Dobbins: President and co-founder.
RNT: And what are your duties?
Dobbins: To lead the organization. I Lead the meetings every other week. I'm not exactly the "face" of the organization, but I'm the elected leader.
RNT: You recently met with Mayor Quan behind closed doors. What was the purpose of that meeting?
Dobbins: Mayor Quan asked SOS to get fans to come out to the rally to support her "Oakland Loves Its Sports teams" rally. We did what we could.
RNT: SOS has been meeting with Mayor Quan regularly for some time, correct?
Dobbins: Yes, we've been meeting with her on a fairly regular basis, pushing her to keep focused on this issue. The mayor of a large city like Oakland has many issues to deal with, and we just want to keep the stadium issues in the discussions and on her mind.
RNT: Let's move on to last Monday's rally. Whose idea was that?
Dobbins: It was the Mayor's idea.
RNT: And, how was the turnout?
Dobbins: About 200 people showed up, including a lot of good press.
RNT: Would you consider that a success?
Dobbins: Considering that it was on a Work day Monday at 11:00am, I'd call that a pretty good success...even though the media portrayed as less than a success. But, if you can get 200 people to take time off of work for something like this, that's a success.
RNT: Was it mostly Raiders' fans, A's fans, Warriors' fans, or was it mixed?
Dobbins: It was a good mix of all three, and was representative of several fan clubs too. The Black Hole fans were there, as were Dr. Death, Raider Pirate and Gorilla Rilla. The A's fan clubs were there too; The Green Stampede, the Right Field Bleacher Fans and Left Field Bleacher Fans were there as well.
RNT: What was the city's position on the three teams prior to this event?
Dobbins: Mayor Quan is a fan of all three teams, and unlike previous leaders, she's actually been doing something to keep them in their homes.
RNT: Has that position changed at all since the Rally?
Dobbins: No, I think she's still positive. She wants the teams to stay in Oakland and she's made it clear that she'll do what she can to make that happen.
RNT: There's been a lot of talk about the city of Dublin getting involved, what's their role in all of this?
Dobbins: They made a public proclamation of their support for Save Oakland Sports. Their OFFICIAL city proclamation proves that they are serious about keeping the teams in the east bay. That's huge and we appreciate it, greatly.
RNT: I recently read somewhere that the city of Oakland was on board with most everything, but that the county of Alameda is dragging its feet. What's going on there?
Dobbins: Well, this is a political issue, and any time politics are involved you're going to have disagreements. Parking at A's games has been an issue that caused a rift between the city and the county. They said they worked it out, but honestly, we don't have access to much more information than that.
RNT: Right now, what is the most viable option for new facilities for the teams?
Dobbins: "Coliseum City" is still the most viable option because the city already owns the land and the transportation is already in place with the BART and such.
RNT: Does this whole thing boil down to money? Is that the real hold up here?
Dobbins: Of course it is. Reports are suggesting that for 3 new stadiums the cost would reach about $3 billion. They're still looking to get political support, but right now the city has already moved forward with $3.5 Million for environmental impact statements and such, which is about an 18 month process. As for the rest, the city isn't discussing where their trying to get the rest of the money.
RNT: Do you get the sense from the citizens of Oakland that they'd be willing to vote for a levy or new tax to help pay for everything?
Dobbins: The citizens don't appear to be interested enough to do that, for various reasons. Times are hard financially right now. It's looking like it's all going to have to be done with private funds. The availability of which is still unknown at this time.
RNT: If the citizens are unwilling to vote for a tax or levy, would it spell the end for keep the teams in Oakland?
Dobbins: No, not at all. We're hopeful for private funding to come...and ultimately, that's the only way this is going to happen. The citizens not voting for more taxes or levies, is not going to prevent us from acquiring private funding to build new facilities, and that's our focus.
RNT: Who are the "big players" in all of this...who holds the keys?
Dobbins: Ownership of the teams as well as city and county officials. Those are the people that can make or break this.
RNT: What's the next step for SOS?
Dobbins: We're going to get our non-profit status and begin holding several fund raisers, the first of which to be held on Thursday, September 13th at Ricky's Sports Bar from 6pm to 11pm. There will be raffles and a way for fans to donate directly. It's going to be a big rally and we're still working on getting some former players and local celebrities to appear, but nothing is confirmed yet. We realize we're not going to raise the $3 billion dollars needed, but if we can raise anything at all, it's a start.
RNT: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, is there anything you'd like to add before we finish?
Dobbins: Just that we appreciate your time and effort in helping us publicize our cause, and I want to say, "Just stay in Oakland Baby!"
Closing: If you live in the bay area and want the Raiders, A's and Warriors to stay in Oakland, get to Ricky's Sports Bar on Thursday the 13th at 6:00 p.m. PST and show your support by buying raffle tickets or making a donation.
For more information, please contact Save Oakland Sports in one of the following ways:
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