Lazanne Fajardo, of CordeValle, poses with fellow fans as Oakland Raiders tailgate before the start of a pre-season game with the L.A. Rams at Oakland Alameda Coliseum in Oakland, California, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)
OAKLAND — It was a festive and joyous atmosphere as fans gathered at the Coliseum to welcome back their beloved Raiders for their first home game of the season.
For a 7 p.m. start, fans fired up their grills as early as five hours before kickoff to take in a preseason game. It was almost impossible to dampen their mood, but two simple words were enough to get their blood boiling: Las Vegas.
In the first year of what will be a few lame-duck seasons before the team is slated to move to Vegas in 2019, fans find themselves in a difficult position. They remain passionate about the Raiders, but they are clearly not happy with the impending move.
Sean Camacho, better known as Senor Raider, donned an entire No. 69 Raider uniform with a sombrero, sunglasses and a silver-and-black painted face as he partook in the pregame festivities with various members of the Black Hole. Camacho explained his long-shot plan, along with other fans, to stop the move by suing the league.
“I feel betrayed. Lied to. We’re not moving. We’re keeping the name and the colors and we’re suing the NFL,” Camacho said. “They should be scared. (Roger) Goodell, Mark Davis, Jerry Jones, we’re coming for all of you.”
Camacho is accustomed to traveling for Raiders games. Having grown up in Pomona, Camacho would take a bus to Bakersfield and take the train into Oakland for games as early as five years old.
Now a Hayward resident and a season ticket holder since 1997, Camacho has no plans to catch a Raiders game in Las Vegas even though he owns a house there.
“I’m not going to Vegas. I go to away games, but I’m not going there,” Camacho said. “For all I care they can be called the Card Sharks.”
Why does he continue to show up for games and sit in his first row seat in section 116 at the Coliseum?
“I come here because these are my people. This is family here,” Camacho said. “It’s like a family reunion every year.”
Others are not as opposed to attending games in Vegas.
Raiders fans Rick and Chuck sat in the bed of their truck in Lot D and went back and forth as they discussed the impending relocation. They both said they will make the trek at least a few times per season, but they too are not thrilled about the team leaving the Bay Area.
Chuck, a Vacaville resident for 48 years, became a Raiders fan while growing up in New Jersey. Fashioning a black Kenny Stabler jersey, he reminisced about the Raiders legends that made him a fanatic, such as Stabler, Jim Otto and Daryle Lamonica.
“They should have worked something out. I’m sorry,” Chuck said. “You got sellout crowds here in Oakland. You got the fan base all over. They got all this space here in the parking lot. They can knock (the Coliseum) down and rebuild. They don’t have to go anywhere.”
Rick was also upset about the move, but said the fact that Vegas is the spot could make trips a little more entertaining.
“If you’re a Raider fan, you’re a Raider fan,” Rick said. “You gotta go where they go. It’s a business. It sucks, but it’s just the way it is.”
The reason why Chuck remains a faithful fan and shows up to games is loyalty. Saturday’s game was actually his first game he’s attended at the Coliseum in 11 years because physical issues have limited his mobility, but he’s never missed a game on television during that period.
“You go with the good, the bad, and the ugly. You don’t jump on the bandwagon. You stay loyal,” Chuck said. “There’s so many loyal people here and that’s why they’re all upset.”
Kelvin Martinez, 24, of Hayward donning a Marshawn Lynch jersey, said his love for the Raiders will never die no matter where they play.
“I think it’s BS that they’re leaving,” Martinez said. “But I’m gonna stick with them. This is my team.”