HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON)
Texans owner Bob McNair was not in support or opposition of the Oakland Raiders potentially relocating to San Antonio as he addressed the media on Wednesday at the morning session of Texans training camp.
The San Antonio Express News reported on Tuesday that Raiders owner Mark Davis and other members of the Raiders brass visited San Antonio and toured the Alamodome with local political and business leaders. San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley later confirmed the meeting in a memo to the San Antonio city council.
McNair, who is chairman of the NFL finance committee, wants to see the Raiders explore all of their options in finding a new stadium in Oakland or elsewhere. If it moved to the Alamo City it would give the state of Texas three NFL franchises, including one in San Antonio that has been a longtime Cowboy stronghold. McNair would not say if Texas was big enough to support a relocated Raiders franchise.
“It’s a question of what the options are and what are the alternatives,” McNair said. “If that’s the best option then something might happen there, It’s not a question about whether Texas could support three teams, it’s where is the best place for that team to be.
San Antonio has long been used as a bargaining chip with both NFL and MLB franchises in the past. The Raiders join a list of teams that includes the San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals and Minnesota Vikings as NFL franchises who have entertained the possibility of moving to the Alamo City. In the case of the Cardinals and Vikings, both have been able to stay in their current markets due to new stadiums. McNair said that is the top priority for the Raiders who play in the outdated O.co Coliseum.
“The Raiders need a new stadium and they are going to be visiting with any city that is interested in them and offering them the prospects of a new stadium,”McNair said” It’s not surprising that they’d visit with San Antonio.”
Both the Cowboys and Texans have battled for exposure throughout the state especially in a market the size of San Antonio. The Cowboys have been the team of choice for fans in San Antonio, with the Cowboys holding their training camp in the Alamo Dome as recently as 2011. The Oilers held their training camp in San Antonio at Trinity University as late as their final season in Houston in 1996. The Texans have been working hard to increase their exposure throughout south Texas and in San Antonio as well. McNair believes a new San Antonio franchise would have a tough time converting fans.
“We have a growing fan base there and it’s going to continue to grow,” McNair added. “If there was a team there and we were over there playing half the fans in stands would be ours. It would be a difficult situation I think for San Antonio so we will see how all that plays out.”
McNair said that any conversations regarding relocation of the Raiders to any city are early. A move by the Raiders would require 24 votes from the 32 NFL owners. McNair was asked as an owner of a Texas based team if he would be opposed to having a third team in Texas
“I wouldn’t oppose it just because they are in San Antonio, I am in favor of doing what strengthens the league and where makes sense,” McNair said.”We need to have strong franchises, we want it to be a competitive league and to do that you’ve got to have good franchises ”
An argument against San Antonio is that they reside in just the 36th largest television market in the country, even if happens to be the seventh largest city in the US. The San Antonio Spurs are firmly entrenched and heavily supported by the community. McNair thinks however, that if San Antonio moves further in the process to acquiring the Raiders the ability to support another major league team will come into question.
“You would have to do some market research and see what the level of support might be there,” McNair added. “When you start getting more and more major league teams you start having to spread that support out. You have to look at what level of support is there and if it is enough for two or three teams.”
Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @ADBSportsguy
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