Growing up African American, it’s rare to see people who seem to own something, even within our communities. the African American sports and entertainment group has a plan to change this in East Oakland, California.
Led by the co-founder, a native of Oakland and the US Marine Corps. veteran Ray Bobbitt, AASEG was officially created in the summer of 2020. And they have since set the wheels in motion to potentially bring professional basketball back to Oakland in the form of a WNBA franchise and acquire an NFL team for the city.
An AASEG goal in acquiring the first black majority-owned NFL franchise is to invest money and resources in the community around the Oakland Coliseum and East Oakland complex. Along with two professional sports teams, the group seeks to provide quality affordable community housing, jobs, a Hall of Fame museum celebrating Oakland artists, athletes and entertainers, a new stadium and convention center, and a Black-owned business. district.
Having grown up in the Bay Area and living in Oakland for a period, I know the pride in Oakland and the surrounding areas, so it is encouraging to see a group of people who know the community taking the lead in giving back to their community in One Way. I recently spoke with Mr. Bobbitt about the project and what it means to him to be a part of it and to do it in his backyard, for his community.
“For people to really understand the importance of this and how I feel about it, is to understand the area in the neighborhood and in the communities surrounding the Colosseum,” explained Bobbitt.
“So it’s probably one of the most affected and marginalized communities in the country. So it’s one of those things where, you know, the Colosseum has for so long been a place of civic pride, with all of our iconic sports teams. Obviously, with the Oakland Raiders being born here, and the Oakland Athletics and Golden State Warriors have won so many championships here. So we’ve had a lot of parades here and a lot of pride. But those three teams also with concerts and everything created an economic opportunity to supplement the income in an area like this. ”
“My brother and sister work in concessions. And I, as an entrepreneur in my family, sold things around the Colosseum. So I was the kid you saw selling bottles of water if it was hot and selling small umbrellas if it rained. So, I have always had a financial relationship with the Colosseum site. I love the Raiders. I am a great fan. But my relationship with the team was that I was on my grandmother’s roof, being able to see the fireworks when they won. But it has always been a cheaper relationship with that site. So as an adult right now, being able to create an inexpensive vehicle there that can help revitalize this community is just a blessing. ”
Bobbitt and AASEG took another step toward achieving their goal last week when the Oakland city council voted unanimously to sign an exclusive bargaining agreement (ENA) with the group. So now AASEG, in partnership with Loop Capital (the largest African American-owned investment banking firm), has 18 months (plus a 6-month extension) to negotiate a deal for control of the Oakland Coliseum site of 100 acres.
There is still a lot of work to do, but since the AASEG group was formed less than 18 months ago, they have made great strides toward making this dream come true. It has not been easy and it has certainly required a team effort on the part of everyone involved. A few years ago, the group initially came together out of a common interest in fighting to keep the Raiders in Oakland.
“And so as we went through the process, it became easier to delineate the framework or goal because we saw it as 75 percent of the NFL players are African American, but there are no owners,” he added. Bobbit said.
Along with Ray Bobbitt, the AASEG Oakland Coliseum project association is led by community leaders such as Shonda Scott, CEO and founder of 360 Total Concept, Robert Bobb, former city manager and deputy mayor of Washington, DC, and president and CEO of the Robert Bobb Group LLC, Alan Dones who is he Co-Founder and CEO of SUDA LLC, AASEG co-founder Karim Muhammad, basketball super agent Bill duffyand LaNiece Jones, the founder of LA Jones and Associates and president of the BWOPA Oakland / Berkley chapter. These are just a few of the names leading the effort to restore the community in Oakland with this Coliseum project.
Another important component is the community equity aspect of the project. AASEG is on the ground in these Oakland communities around the Coliseum site doing the work and showing their commitment not just by telling Oakland residents their plan, but by actively showing their intentions. AASEG is working with these different community leaders and has given them an equity stake within the company, which will eventually lead to more resources and greater outreach for the community.
While there is still a way to go, this project could be the lifeline East Oakland has been searching for decades. East Oakland is one of the most impoverished and underrepresented communities of the nation. The AASEG is about to provide something that would benefit its community for generations to come. By bringing in professional sports teams, jobs, educational programs, and quality affordable housing, among other things, they are also providing people with ownership within the community. As blacks in America, that is something we have very little of, even in our own neighborhoods.