In another stunning reversal, the AFL awarded the eighth and final franchise to the city of Oakland. Much of the credit for the change went to Chargers owner Barron Hilton. Hilton, who had been out of town for previous votes, made a strong plea upon his return for choosing Oakland. And on the league’s fifth ballot, the California city was chosen unanimously. Commissioner Joe Foss gave three reasons for the decision: the creation of a west coast rival for Los Angeles, the Oakland community’s strong show of interest, and better geographic balance than would have been provided by a team in Atlanta. Foss also credited a strong presentation by Chet Soda, Wayne Valley, and in particular, Robert Osborne.
A first meeting to plan strategy for an Oakland bid was convened by Barron Hilton in San Francisco. Among the attendees were Oakland Tribune assistant publisher William Knowland, chairman of the Oakland sports stadium committee George Jacopetti, Oakland city councilmen Robert Osborne and Dan Marovich, Oakland city manager Wayne Thompson, Berkeley city assemblyman Don Mulford, Oakland Chamber of Commerce president William Sparling, Robert Lurie, Hal Schoener, a former San Francisco 49er player representing local magnate Ted Harrer, and AFL leader Lamar Hunt. Hunt pointed out again that time was of the essence and that a local bid had to be put together as quickly as possible. For most of the meeting the focus was on getting a stadium. Of primary concern was the possibility that East Bay fans would not support a team playing in San Francisco, even under the Oakland name. A faint hope was held out that the team could convince the University of California to allow the team to play in 80,000 seat Memorial Stadium until an Oakland stadium could be built, but a long-standing university rule against allowing professional sports to use school facilities stood in the way. There was also a rumor that the city of Hayward, just south of Oakland, was considering building a stadium and trying to land the team.
Some negotiating among the potential owners leaked from the meeting as well. Osborne indicated he would be willing to invest up to $200,000 as part of an East Bay ownership group. Jacopetti also identified himself as a possible investor. Schoener said Harrer would be in, but wanted 51 percent ownership of the team as a condition of his investment.
Frank Leahy, the Chargers general manager, was also at the meeting to assist Hilton, and explained that a draft pool would be created from players let go by the other seven teams and that, in the interest of league competitive balance, efforts would be made to ensure that the pool did not consist solely of scrubs. Leahy thought each team would take about 60 players to training camp in the summer, with roster limits to be set at 33 by the first week of the regular season. Initially, the league was planning to start play the weekend of September 18.
Jacksonville and Oakland emerged as additional possible sites for the last AFL franchise. Oakland was promoted as a possibility by Barron Hilton, owner of the Los Angeles Chargers, who wanted a West Coast rival. AFL founder Lamar Hunt was thought to prefer Miami. Numerous East Bay boosters stepped forward to add their support, including Oakland mayor Clifford Rishell and Berkeley city assemblyman Don Mulford. A playing site would be a problem as there were no existing facilities in the city of Oakland that were suitable. The San Francisco Giants’ new home, Candlestick Park, was mentioned as a temporary possibility pending the construction of a stadium in Oakland. Robert Moore, secretary of the San Francisco Parks and Recreation department, was interested in adding tenants, but pointed out that the Giants’ lease required the turf to be in excellent condition, something that would be a problem sharing the field with a football team. Mayor Rishell reluctantly offered his support to such a plan, but only if the team’s stay in San Francisco was temporary and short.