A Game in Hawaii
Raider general manager Bud Hastings announced that the team would open their 1961 preseason slate against the Houston Oilers in Honolulu. According to Scotty Stirling of the Tribune, the game was actually a gift to the Oilers players from the team’s management for winning the AFL championship and the Raiders were just lucky beneficiaries. The Oilers would open training camp in Hawaii three weeks prior to the game.
According to an Oilers official, the plan came from owner Bud Adams. “It will be a change from the hot, humid camp we had in Texas last year,” said the unnamed official, “and the trip certainly should be enjoyable to the squad.”
The Raiders had yet to schedule their other three preseason games, but said one would likely be played in Candlestick Park, another would take place in Sacramento or Stockton, and the last would probably be against the Chargers in their new San Diego home. The team was still deciding between Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa for their own training camp, with Eddie Erdelatz plumping for Santa Cruz.
Wayne Crow, who reportedly had been at odds with management over his contract for 1961, said he thought his situation, which had involved confusion or disagreement over whether offseason payments were part of his 1960 contract, said he thought things had been “straightened out.”
John Dittrich, for his part, said he was “very happy” with his new deal. Stirling reported that Marty Feldman called Dittrich the team’s best guard.
San Mateo Times
Developments in the Oakland ownership derby became more muddled. Back in the Bay Area, a new group emerged. This one was led by George McKeon, son of a local construction firm owner, and Kezar Stadium concessionaire Bernard Hagen. McKeon and Hagen had sent a telegram to the league asking for consideration of their bid for a team representing San Francisco. Lamar Hunt said they would be given a few minutes to informally outline their proposal and if it seemed worth consideration, the league would allow them to make their case in detail before the entire group.
Meanwhile, the AFL continued to weigh the options that were already on the table. Observers thought Oakland now had the inside track and that the San Francisco bid seemed unlikely to get much support. These sources pointed out that the AFL had already invaded two NFL cities, New York and Los Angeles, and even a third, if Dallas counted. But the league was still clearly undecided. Bud Adams of Houston and Ralph Wilson of Buffalo were said to favor Atlanta, while Hunt in Dallas and Barron Hilton in Los Angeles were Oakland backers. Aiding the Oakland position was confirmation by the San Francisco Parks and Recreation Commission that Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park would be available as long as a team’s needs didn’t conflict with those of the Giants and 49ers. Hunt thought it might take another week to make a final decision.
Hayward Daily Review
United Press International
At the AFL meeting in Dallas today, groups representing Atlanta and Oakland made their pitches to representatives of the seven teams hoping to join them. Two locations, Miami and Minnesota, did not participate and were out of the running.
The sole Atlanta group presented in the morning. Like Oakland, there were stadium concerns, but the group said they planned to use Ponce De Leon Park, a minor league baseball facility with a capacity of about 20,000, until a more suitable stadium could be built.
The afternoon was reserved for up to three Oakland groups, but in the end, only one, headed by Chet Soda and Robert Osborne showed up. Ted Harrer had not made the trip, but Bill Jackson had been so impressed by the Soda’s pitch that he withdrew his group from consideration on the spot. The Soda/Osborne group said they planned to use either Kezar Stadium or Candlestick Park until they could get a stadium built in Oakland.
Taking a realistic view of team profitability, Osborne said he expected the group would lose about $500,000 the first year and would start to break even or turn a profit by year three.
Lamar Hunt called both presentations “very acceptable.” No consensus had emerged on who would be chosen, though Houston owner Bud Adams was said to favor Atlanta because it would make for an easier split of the league into eastern and western divisions and because there was a strong untapped market for professional football in the South.
Hayward Daily Review
United Press International
Houston owner Bud Adams announced that his team would be called the Oilers and that he had four candidates for head coach: Oklahoma’s Bud Wilkinson, Iowa’s Forest Evashevski, former Baylor coach George Sauer, and Sammy Baugh, now coaching Hardin-Simmons.
The AFL completed a two-day meeting of team owners during with they discussed a variety of topics. Los Angeles franchise owner Barron Hilton confirmed that he had offered a contract for the head coaching spot to Eddie Erdelatz and had approached former Notre Dame head coach Frank Leahy to be the general manager. Bud Adams of Houston said he had talked with a pair of men, former Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh and former Baylor coach George Sauer, about coaching his team.
Lamar Hunt announced the league’s intention to field eight teams playing a 14-game home-and-home round robin schedule. He added that the field of potential cities for the two remaining spots had been winnowed to Buffalo, Kansas City, Louisville, Miami, San Diego, and San Francisco. Observers believed that at least one of the two California cities had an inside track, as Hilton was lobbying hard to get another West Coast team to pair with his in Los Angeles.
New York owner Harry Wismer announced that he had put together a deal for his team to play in the Polo Grounds.
Dallas owner Lamar Hunt and Houston owner Bud Adams each reported receiving an offer from an unnamed NFL team owner to join the older league. NFL commissioner Bert Bell said he was mystified by the report, citing the need for formal league approval to make such an offer.
A UPI story announced that the AFL had its first official meeting in Chicago. Along with Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams, Barron Hilton was there to represent Los Angeles. Denver was represented by Robert Howsam, New York was represented by Harry Wismer, and the Minneapolis franchise was represented by Bill Boyer, a local businessman, and Max Winter, who at one time owned a piece of the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers.
So far, the response from the NFL and their teams was muted, though Vince Lombardi, about to embark on his first season as head coach of the Green Bay Packers, thought there was “plenty of talent around to support two leagues.”
Meanwhile the rumors about what cities might be added to the AFL continued to circulate. The current set included San Francisco, Kansas City, and New Orleans.
More announcements appeared concerning the new league. Bud Adams, another son of a fabulously rich Texas oil magnate, was named as the principal figure of the Houston franchise. And in other news, the next in a dizzying series of rumors about potential AFL cities: Seattle, this time.