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For a 22nd straight, year, the Oakland Raiders have returned to Napa for pre-season camp, attracting legions of die-hard and maybe also conflicted followers.
The team will be moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, perhaps as early as 2019. Will that impact Napa?
The team has not announced plans. The city has never done a formal study of the team's economic impact.
This move has certainly challenged the psyche of Raider Nation. "I'm a fan of the organization, not the team," said Daniel Buccholz, about the team he has loved, watched leave, seen return, and now leave, again.
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"It's not a relationship, it's a business," said Michael Ekstrand from Sacramento. "They're not leaving me as a fan. They're leaving Oakland."
These fans drive from Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento. Oddly enough, we met no one from either Oakland or Las Vegas.
Napa has fans, as well, though they feel a bit slighted. In the Executive Room Barber Shop on Main Street, Robert Alvarez went back on forth, balancing loyalty and dismay. "I'll support them from my couch," he told us. "They're in my blood, but it sucks."
To paraphrase a certain well-read book, love is patient, kind, and does not envy. It is not self-seeking or easily angered. Here in training camp, it really is trying to keep no record of wrongs, and to persevere.
Family counseling, anyone?
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