“Our community is in a position where we are huge consumers, and it’s time for us to become owners,” says Ray Bobbitt, founder of AASEG, which is based in Oakland.
Speaking about the of Black Lives Matters protest 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.”
Bobbitt says 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 their 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,” says Bobbitt, who is an Oakland native.
The multi-billion dollar plan also includes building up the Hegenberger Corridor and surrounding neighbors 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,” says 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.
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.
Justin Berton, a spokesperson for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, tells ABC7 News:
“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. 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 says they will have an update to their proposal in early October.
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