We were asked to keep Oakland fans loyal to the team for the transitional 2020 NFL Season, when the Raiders will move from the Bay Area to Las Vegas. We created a physical space where OG fans can continue their traditions—and preserve Oakland's status as the Holy Land of Raider culture.
WHAT WE DID:
Spoke to Oakland fans about losing their team.
Researched the Raiders and its place in West Coast hip-hop.
Tried to develop our own superfan alter egos.
After 45 years in the Bay Area, the Oakland Raiders are now the Las Vegas Raiders.
The Raiders have the most infamous fans in sports. During the workweek, they are the working and middle-class residents of Oakland, CA. On game days, they don elaborate costumes—with black and white facepaint, skull-and-crossbones paraphernalia, and studded leather—to become their fearsome alter egos. The most boisterous of them fill the sections near the goalpost of the opposing team, an area of Oakland Coliseum known as the Black Hole. Here, they live up to their notoriety, shouting at and intimidating visiting players. Raiders fans' raucous game-day personas have earned their team a legendary status in West Coast hip-hop culture.
Despite a stint in Los Angeles from 1982 to '94, the Raiders have called Oakland, CA, across the Bay from San Francisco, their home since 1960. However, after numerous attempts to renovate the Oakland Coliseum, named the worst stadium in the country by The Guardian, the Raiders are moving to a shining new one in Las Vegas, just off the Strip. While they will have a world-class stadium on prime real estate, making it more appealing to top-tier talent, the Raiders are leaving their home. In doing so, they risk losing their louche origins—and the most distinctive fan culture in the NFL.
Oakland fans feel undervalued.
Understandably, Oakland fans are crestfallen. For years, the NFL has been reluctant to embrace the countercultural aspects of its fandom. Now, superfans believe the football establishment has all but turned its back on them to court a more upscale demographic. "They are going to their glass castle to their white family of four and leaving their working-class, more diverse fans behind," Rob Rivera, the founder of the Black Hole fan group, told us. "It's like they don't value these years of loyalty we've had for them," another fan said.
Black Hole + Raider Nation
To keep Oakland fans loyal, we primarily targeted the superfans who filled the Black Hole on game days. Some are game-day mainstays, recognizable to fans with their distinctive costumes. Their noms de guerre include Violator, Dr. Death, and Gorilla Rilla.
Our secondary target is members of Raider Nation, in Oakland and beyond. They are the committed enthusiasts who frequently attend games or watch them on television but might lack the skull-and-crossbones paraphernalia. Still, they revere superfans like Violator as the standard-bearers of Raider Nation. Consequently, they fall under the influence of our primary target.
Fans don't only fear losing their team. They also worry about losing their culture.
During our conversations, Raiders fans seldom mentioned football. Instead, they spoke of rowdy pre-games and chants. They waxed nostalgic about the camaraderie and sense of identity that stemmed from being a part of Raider Nation. "Being a Raider is part of my lifestyle. What will I do on NFL Sundays now?" one said. "It's like losing our family, the people we went to every game with," another remarked. It quickly became apparent that what Raiders fans feared most was not losing their team but rather the fan culture they had built around it. The city of Oakland—with its working-class roots and diverse residents—is integral to that culture.
Oakland is the (Un)Holy Land of Raider culture.
THE IDEA: Lot 107
Establishing a sacred space for Raider Culture in Oakland.
Oakland fans need a dedicated space to carry on their traditions. They need a Mecca. LOT 107, a nod to a section of the Black Hole, gives them an outdoor space in which to tailgate and watch their team live on the big screen. The vibe is chill, communal, and open. With a memorial area, LOT 107 is envisioned as a destination for all members of Raider Nation. Oakland will always be their capital.
Provide fans with what they will miss most: a place.
A place that celebrates Raiderism—and celebrates them.
A space where they can continue gathering and creating new memories.
A reason to keep their traditions alive.
An icon that makes Oakland synonymous with the Raiders forever.
1. Pre-Launch: "Follow the Autumn Wind"
The battle hymn of Raider Nation is "Autumn Wind," a poem that describes the autumn weather of football season. We'd print portions of the poem and hang them in unexpected locations throughout Oakland. Printed alongside the lyrics would be QR codes with coordinates to LOT 107 and details on the launch.
2. Launch Party
Raider Nation counts a few celebrity fans, Ice Cube and Guy Fieri among them. On the first game of the season, we'd throw a pregame concert by Ice Cube, and Guy Fieri would host a celebrity food truck. A shrine of Al Davis, a civil rights advocate and the general manager of the Oakland Raiders for 39 years, from 1972 to his death in 2011, would be unveiled on the memorial site.
3. Mobilize the Black Hole
If Raider Nation is something of a religion, with Oakland being its Holy Land, then it needs its apostles. Members of the Black Hole are the people for the task. The most famous superfans will travel the deserts of California by a fleet of badass trucks, à la Mad Max, to Las Vegas for the first day of the season. Once in the new stadium, they can teach new fans the customs of Raider Nation.
Deck Narrative, Design, and Presentation