Investment group looks to bring Black-owned NFL expansion team to Oakland

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Saturday, September 12, 2020
Leaders discuss ideas about African American-owned NFL expansion team in Oakland
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Leaders discuss ideas about an African American-owned NFL expansion team in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Could a black-owned NFL team be going to Oakland? That's the goal of the African American Sports & Entertainment Group, or AASEG.

"Our community is in a position where we are huge consumers, and it's time for us to become owners," said Ray Bobbitt, founder of AASEG, which is based in Oakland.

Speaking about the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer and the current stance by many NBA, MLB and NFL players against racial injustice, he adds, "We see that nobody wants to just stop this thing at the protests and our voices. We want to see the process of economic participation and equity be realized."

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Bobbitt said they submitted a plan to the NFL in June and received a favorable response a month later, in which the league provided a framework for how the AASEG should proceed.

They are considering a community-ownership model, similar to that of the Green Bay Packers.

One possible option is joint ownership with the Oakland A's, however, the team is currently in a series of negotiations with the city and Alameda County about its own future.

Another option is to build a new stadium. Regardless, Bobbitt says Oakland just makes sense, especially given its NFL history.

"It would be an opportunity for us to be at the table and inject and revisit and recycle the African American dollar back into our community," said Bobbitt, who is an Oakland native.

The multi-billion dollar plan also includes building up the Hegenberger Corridor and surrounding neighborhoods of East Oakland. They envision an education center, museum, convention center and longer term, more housing.

"Any time African-Americans can control and own major parts of the real estate, it puts us in a better position to do great things for the community," said AASEG's Robert Bobb, a former Oakland city manager. Bobb more recently served as deputy mayor of Washington, D.C., where he helped the city acquire baseball's 2019 World Series Champions, Washington Nationals.

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If the plan is approved, it would still be several years before a team plays in Oakland. But AASEG already has strong community support, including the likes of the Oakland Black Chamber of Commerce, several unions and city government.

"The Mayor has tremendous respect for Mr.Bobbit and other Black entrepreneurs who want to make significant investments in Oakland, as well as claim long overdue ownership stakes within industries like the NFL," Justin Berton, a spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, told ABC7 News. "The vision of Mr. Bobbit's group is a historic one that would make Oakland the home to the first African American- owned football team in the NFL - a league that desperately needs more diversity among its fraternity of owners."

AASEG said they will have an update to their proposal in early October.