Raiders fans are "not nearly as bad as people make them out to be." True, "the fans are insanely passionate," use "language that is at least PG-13" and can "taunt and humiliate" those who aren't Raiders fans. But it's "usually more bark than bite." "Fans like to talk trash quite a bit and think they're tough, but once you get used to it, makeup and spikes aren't all that scary." Despite the "occasional drunk" "hooligan," Raiders fans "party hard" "when the team is winning" and are "boring when the team goes 2-14, 4-12 and 5-11 the last three years." "If only the Raiders played up to the fan love we give them, they'd be in the Super Bowl every year," argue some. As it is now, however, Oakland's "Black Hole," as the team's "raucous" fans have come to be known, "are the only reason you'd want to see a Raiders game.
7 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
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Waiting in line for food means standing "in the way of people constantly walking through those lines because [the lines] are so crowded." "Anywhere you go there are long lines" for a selection that is "middle-of-the-road but not bad." The "fantastic Polish sausage with sauerkraut" is a rare standout, as are the "money" chicken tenders. And Everett and Jones' barbecue has won over the likes of John Madden. Another high point is the "great variety of beers" on hand, "including many local micros" such as Anchor Steam and Pyramid.
6 out of 10
"If using your own vehicle, the commute can take awhile due to the volume of other cars." The "freeway exits near the stadium are poorly designed for the amount of cars that crowd the area on game days." Additionally, "Oakland police do a poor job of directing traffic" "from the freeway to the Coliseum," where it can "take forever to get parking because of all of the other people tailgating." Despite "easy access to two freeways," leaving at the same time 40,000-50,000 fans are spilling onto the streets still takes tremendous patience." However, and this is a big however, "the commute is easy if you are smart enough to use the Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) trains or the Amtrak Capitol Corridor train. Both drop you off at the stadium." More than a few fans believe taking BART is "the easiest that [you'll] get in and out of any NFL game."
6 out of 10
Belying the "scary" reputation of Raiders fans, tailgaters "are actually a really friendly bunch if you get them to open up a bit." "Walking through the parking lot you're likely to get offers of food or a seat to view the early games on a portable TV." You're also likely to find "a guy pulling his barbecue on a trailer behind his truck," "barbecued tri-tips and ribs" and "generators to power blenders for cocktails." These being Raiders fans, the atmosphere strikes some as "Halloween for adults," a "colorful scene although the team colors are silver and black." "It's a mix between a Rick James and a Tupac video," a description the many live bands playing throughout the lot bolster. With a "three-ring circus" of tailgating this "diverse," "it's no surprise some line up as early as Friday" to get a prime spot on Sunday.
The "forbidding" "giant concrete bowl" that is McAfee Coliseum is an "older stadium with few amenities." The sound system "is usually too loud and unintelligible," there are "few direct routes to seats," bathrooms are "old and dirty" and "if you want something other than a hot dog, you have to go on a quest." "It has history," though, and not only of great Raiders teams of the past, but of the sound of "fans roaring in your chest." It also has the Raiderettes, a cheerleading squad "you won't [appreciate] if you haven't seen them live." And, of course, it has the "sun in November." Those charms are all most Raiders fans have left after a "just plain ugly" 10,000-seat "three-level section with skyboxes," derisively nicknamed Mt. Davis, was erected in 1996, enclosing the stadium and blocking a view of the Berkeley Hills that made an "outdated" park "quaint" to some. While it's unlikely many would "rather spend four hours at San Quentin," it's clear the Raiders home "needs some TLC" -- "or to be torn down."
5 out of 10
"If you want a pretty, make-believe world, go across the bay to a Niners game." "East Oakland" is "grungy," "run down" and "industrial in nature," a fitting complement to "the blue-collar attitude that makes a Raiders game different from all others." "The Oakland Airport sits across the freeway" from the stadium, and "there are some local hotels and restaurants nearby." Otherwise, "lower-cost housing surrounds the stadium." "Do you like concrete and asphalt? If you do, then this is the place to be."
2 out of 10
It's a good thing the Raiders ethic is one of toughness, because Oakland fans have had to use every bit of their strength to weather the decline of one of the league's most storied franchises. Not only has a team that reached a Super Bowl as recently as 2002 won only six games the past two seasons, but a stadium that once had a gruff hominess to it now needs a makeover the likes Ty Pennington offers on the hit ABC show. Considering the team struggled to sign No. 1-overall pick JaMarcus Russell and the only changes the Coliseum has made is the hated Mt. Davis structure, it doesn't appear fans will experience any relief soon. On the bright side, all that suffering should only enhance the notion that "going to a Raiders game offers an A-plus people-watching experience."
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