April Fools’ Day: Oakland Raiders to relocate to shores of Lake Dillon
April 1, 2017
The Oakland Raiders have announced they will be relocating to the new Dillon Amphitheatre, a stunning reversal that came just days after the NFL football team had announced their move to Las Vegas.
Representatives of the team said that while Las Vegas had been an enticing destination, a last-minute pitch from the town of Dillon convinced them to abruptly change course.
"We took a look at some of those mock-ups and had to convene an emergency meeting to reconsider," team owner Mark Davis said in a phone interview. "When we saw that tasteful yet modern design and then heard about the new bathroom and concession facilities, we knew we had to snap it up."
Construction on the new amphitheater is slated to begin this summer, and town officials expect it to be completed in time for the Dillon Raiders' first game next season.
The announcement was met with condemnation from some local residents who had lobbied against the amphitheater project, arguing that the proposed structure would be too large — and thus sure to attract an NFL franchise.
"This is exactly what we were worried about from the start," said Dillon homeowner Roland Gaasch. "Worst of all, it had to be the Raiders. Have you seen their fans? They're insane. The Rams we could have maybe been OK with, but the Raiders are not the type of franchise that is fitting with our quiet, mountain community."
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Dillon only has a population of around 920, but the games are projected to draw tens of thousands of fans to the small lakefront community. That could pose parking and traffic congestion issues, town officials conceded.
"We certainly don't want to be dealing with some of the issues that Breckenridge has been having," said town manager Tom Breslin. "But we're looking at a number of creative options to free up more parking and ease congestion during those peak hours when the Raiders will be hosting other teams."
The Raiders management is strongly in favor of the town building a parking structure. The team is already suggesting that an agreement to do so was an unspoken part of the relocation deal.
Davis went so far as to suggest that if Dillon didn't build the structure, he might directly call upon the team's fans to lobby the town.
"There are a number of possible strategies there if Dillon were to renege on this," Davis said. "For instance, we could go as far as to send an open letter to every Raiders season ticket holder urging them to pressure the town into building a structure. Hopefully, we won't have to go there."
"We are not comfortable with a parking structure at this point but are looking at other options to address parking," Breslin said.
That could include anything from a commuter gondola to a paid parking system. That second option, however, prompted swift backlash from residents and raised concerns that disgruntled Raiders fans might vandalize the parking meters.
Law enforcement agencies are already worried about how Raiders games could impact public safety. The team's fans are known for dressing in elaborate costumes, hosting raucous tailgates and being prone to the occasional riot.
In response, local police departments and the Summit County Sheriff's Office convened an emergency roundtable to discuss a joint task force for keeping the peace at Dillon Raiders games.
The group is headed up by Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, who has served in the Los Angeles Police Department and was occasionally called upon by the Oakland police to assist with scene security at Raiders games.
"Back in L.A., I served in the narcotics unit, the gang unit, the murder unit," FitzSimons said. "None of them prepared me for what I saw when I worked those Raiders games."
At press time, sources indicated that the Dillon Raiders were in talks to acquire Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as their new starter.
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