TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Could the Oakland Raiders call the Old Pueblo home for the 2019 season?
Tucson attorney Ali Farhang says “why not?”
The NFL team is currently searching for a stadium to call a temporary home while a new stadium is being built in Las Vegas. Farhang, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, said the idea came from a family argument.
“The idea really just came from following the story between the Raiders and the City of Oakland and a long-standing feud with one of my brothers where I think he should be a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and he thinks I should be an Oakland Raiders fan,” Farhang said.
While Farhang’s office is covered with Steelers memorabilia, he proposed a compromise.
“I made the comment to him that I think he would be a Raiders fan if they moved to Tucson and I just thought, why not invite the Raiders to Tucson?
Farhang said he first reached out to University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins and Athletic Director Dave Heeke, both of who were “enthusiastically supportive.” He then contacted the Governor’s Office and the Bidwill family, who owns the Arizona Cardinals.
After getting support, he then made a phone call and asked to speak to Raiders President Mark Badain.
“It was good, you know they’ve been searching for a location to play for quiet a while and there’s a lot of nuance to it,” said Farhang. “You know, they were very candid and clear that listen, we are looking at a lot of things and there’s a possibility, but as soon as they opened the door at all that there was even the slightest possibility, we’ve been full speed ahead because there is really nothing to lose.”
There’s no denying the eight Sundays out of the year would have a big economic impact for Southern Arizona. With the Oakland Raiders being one of the most popular NFL teams in Mexico, Farhang talked about hotel rooms, restaurants and fan engagement.
“When you have the Raiders in Southern Arizona and with young fans and people coming up from Mexico, New Mexico, Southern California, you are absolutely going to build the fan base for the Raiders, I am confident of that," said Farhang. "It’s a win-win for our city, win-win for the Raiders.”
Farhang’s pitch isn’t out of the ordinary - he has a background in bringing sports to the Old Pueblo. Farhang is the founder of the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl and is also a co-owner for the Tucson Sugar Skulls.
“Think about this. Think about how far our city has come in the last five years. Think about downtown, think about all the stuff that is happening at the University of Arizona. The concept of a National Football League team playing in Tucson is not crazy,” Farhang said.
According to a recent CBS Sports report, the Raiders are most likely to play in the Bay Area at either Levi’s Stadium or the recently renamed Oracle Park, with the San Francisco Giants. Farhang said he would hope to be able to discuss specifics, if the team moved forward with the idea of the Old Pueblo, but regardless of the decision, he says the support from the community shows what Tucson is made of.
“it’s really a testament to how far we’ve come as a city that we are really the best choice the Raiders could make for a season between Oakland and their permanent home in Las Vegas,” said Farhang.
If the Raiders called Arizona Stadium home, visiting teams would include: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and the Jacksonville Jaguars.