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Oakland Raiders take up residence in Tampa Bay

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It appears the Oakland Raiders will be moving from their home on the east side of San Francisco Bay in the not-too-distant future. While Las Vegas is the final destination, pending NFL approval, the Raiders are establishing a temporary residence in the Tampa Bay area this week.

After Oakland’s 33-16 romp over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Coach Jack Del Rio and his team flew to Sarasota instead of home to Oakland to spend the week. With a game on Sunday in Tampa against the Bucs, the Raiders’ brain trust wanted to keep their players on East Coast time.

At first glance it would appear the NFL was doing the Raiders no favors by scheduling back-to-back games in Florida. That is not the case.

The Raiders actually made a request to the NFL that their two Florida games be scheduled this way, saving them an additional transcontinental trip and all of the logistics that go with it. We will find out Sunday if this was a wise move.

While in Sarasota, they will conduct business as though they were in northern California. Oakland will practice daily at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. On Saturday, they will bus to Tampa where they will check into the team hotel before Sunday’s game.

“All of the ways we operate, the time the guys have, when we meet, how we meet, and the material they get, when we feed them, are going to remain on schedule as much as possible,” Del Rio told the San Jose Mercury-News.

Many of the families made the trip, but as far as outside activities go, the players are treating this as a business trip. There may be one side excursion planned for the coach, however.

If arrangements can be made, Del Rio is trying to get to Jacksonville on Saturday for the Georgia vs. Florida game. His son, Luke Del Rio, is set to start at quarterback for the Gators.

“I’m working on the details to get over there,” he told “I’d love to be able to watch him play.”

After the game, it would be back to Tampa to make final preparations for the Bucs. Oakland is a perfect 3-0 on the road so far this year.

Florida will almost feel like home by Sunday.


Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at [email protected]

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