Al Davis

Sacramento Raiders? 'It was a done deal'


Sacramento Raiders? 'It was a done deal'

Between 1987 and 1990, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis was looking for a new home for his team after a failed venture in Los Angeles. Armed with plenty of land and a $50 million commitment from City Council, Gregg Lukenbill and his Sacramento Kings partnership were in the running. 

It’s all water under the bridge now. Davis, along with plenty of other primary players from the deal have long since passed. The Raiders eventually moved back to Oakland where they’ll stay for the next two years, before relocating again, this time to Las Vegas.

How close did Sacramento come to landing the Raiders? According to Lukenbill, it was happening.

“It was a done deal,” Lukenbill said on The Kings Insider Podcast. “We got the City Council on a 9-0 vote to give Al Davis $50 million for the franchise fee to move here.”

In a strange twist to the story, Davis would have become the managing partner of the Sacramento Kings, as well as retain most of the ownership of the Raiders. 

“We would have had 25 percent of the Raiders, 25 percent of the stadium and the Arena and the team, and Al would have had 75 percent of the Kings,” Lukenbill said.

Al Davis as a basketball man? According to Lukenbill, he was all in. 

“Al was very focused on the Kings, we used to talk about it all the time,” Lukenbill added. “He would have been a much better managing partner than I would have, because he lived and breathed that. That competitive DNA was in his spirit everyday, no matter what sport it was.”

In the end, Davis dragged his feet. The Kings couldn’t get all of their partners on board and City Council eventually pulled their funding. 

The Raiders moved back to Oakland before the 1995 NFL season. Lukenbill lasted until 1992 as the managing partner of the Kings until selling to Jim Thomas. 

Davis wasn’t the only Oakland-based owner Lukenbill spoke to about their professional team. Before landing the Kansas City Kings, he first tried to lure the Oakland A’s to Sacramento. 

“Ironically, I talked to Charlie Finley in 1978 and he was willing to sell the A’s to me for $10 million dollars,” Lukenbill said. “In the 70’s, $10 million was more than I had, I can tell you. He said, ‘listen, when you get real, give me a call, I’m willing to deal.’”

Hiding in the weeds behind Arco Arena II, there are the remnants of the foundation of a baseball field. Lukenbill and his partners had big dreams of the A’s, Raiders and any other professional team they could wrangle into Sacramento. 

Lukenbill and his group were able to secure the Kings and nothing more. Eventually minor league baseball and soccer settled into the Capital City, both finding overwhelming support from Sacramento sports fans.  

Raiders owner Mark Davis: Oakland will always be part of our DNA

Raiders owner Mark Davis: Oakland will always be part of our DNA

The Oakland Raiders received conditional approval from the National Football League to relocate the franchise to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Shortly thereafter, owner Mark Davis issued the following statement:

“My father always said, ‘the greatness of the Raiders is in its future,’ and the opportunity to build a world-class stadium in the entertainment capital of the world is a significant step toward achieving that greatness. I would like to thank Commissioner Goodell, the National Football League and my 31 partners. I would also like to thank Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Legislature for their commitment. Finally, I would like to thank Sheldon Adelson for his vision and leadership, without which this project never would have become a reality.

[RATTO: Raiders fans got remarkably little bang for their bucks, or for their hearts]

“The Raiders were born in Oakland and Oakland will always be part of our DNA. We know that some fans will be disappointed and even angry, but we hope that they do not direct that frustration to the players, coaches and staff. We plan to play at the Coliseum in 2017 and 2018, and hope to stay there as the Oakland Raiders until the new stadium opens. We would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area.”

The only owner who voted against the move was Miami's Stephen Ross, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Oakland Raiders media services contributed to this story

Tommie Smith to light torch in Mexico City honoring Al Davis

Tommie Smith to light torch in Mexico City honoring Al Davis

ALAMEDA — Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith will return to Mexico City to light the torch honoring late Raiders owner Al Davis before Oakland plays Houston in an NFL game.

Smith will make his second trip back to Mexico City since he famously raised his black-gloved fist with bronze medalist John Carlos as a sign of black power following his win in the 200-meter finals at the 1968 Olympics.

Raiders owner Mark Davis invited Smith to join the team on its trip for Monday night's game and light the torch that honors his father, who was a leading force in hiring minorities and women to major jobs in football.

Smith told ESPN that it's an "historic moment" and praised the Raiders for always standing for diversity and civil rights.