Oakland and Alameda County are counting on Davis to keep his team in Oakland for more than 15 years. But how can he be trusted to do that? After moving the Raiders to the Los Angeles Coliseum, an action that Oakland unsuccessfully fought in court at a cost to its taxpayers of $2.8 million in legal fees (the NFL also tried to block the move, and wound up paying Davis an $18 million settlement after losing an antitrust suit he brought against the league), Davis found himself in a dispute with the L.A. Coliseum Commission over stadium renovations. He threatened to move the Raiders to nearby Irwindale, but after pocketing a nonrefundable $10 million deposit from that city, he decided to look elsewhere. He ended up back in Oakland.
The hunger for pro franchises has become so great that cities are all but throwing themselves at the feet of Davis and other owners. These owners haven't hesitated to play cities against one another. For example, Gordon and George Gund, owners of the Minnesota North Stars, say that the team will move to Oakland unless a local interest buys the club. The Gunds, who have been complaining about poor attendance, are nevertheless asking $50 million for the team, nearly $20 million more than has ever been paid for an NHL franchise, and a particularly outrageous sum considering that the North Stars have recently been among the NHL's worst teams.
"Maybe sports have gotten a bit out of hand," says George Vukasin, president of the Oakland Coliseum. "[The deal with Davis] is a very high price to pay. But when you're paying baseball players $3 million a year, that puts what we've done in some perspective. Basically, if Oakland and Alameda County want to be considered major league, they've got to step up and pay major league money for a team."
Of course, Oakland already has two big league teams, the Warriors and the world-champion A's—and the city got both of them a whole lot cheaper.
The referees at a Stevens Point, Wis., recreation-league basketball game not long ago were named Larry Kokkeler, Curly Marquard and Jim Moe.
If you don't believe that women's college sports programs still get second-class treatment, consider what happened last week to Penn State's outstanding women's basketball team. The Lady Lions had gained the right to host a first-round NCAA tournament game against Florida State on March 14 but were forced to move the game to Florida State because Penn State had reserved its gym for a men's NIT game that night between the Nittany Lions and Marquette. Not incidentally, ESPN broadcast the men's game nationwide.
Penn State athletic director James Tarman explained that the NIT had required a commitment in late February, two weeks before Penn State knew that its women's team would need the gym. "It was a facility decision, not a gender decision," he said. But would Penn State ever force its men's basketball team to play a key game on the road to suit the needs of its women's team? It's almost unimaginable.
In the end the Lady Lions earned an 83-73 victory at Florida State, and the Penn State athletic department suffered some well-deserved embarrassment. As the Nittany Lion men were defeating Marquette 57-54 before a crowd of 3,729—just 128 more than the attendance at Penn State's last home women's game—protesters marched outside the gym with banners, one of which read MEN'S STATE.