Art Shell Is Just Happy to Have the Issue Settled : Reaction: Players have off-day, but those present at training complex are generally positive about staying in L.A.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There's a map of the Southland outside the Raider locker room at the El Segundo training complex, with circles around the cities of Irwindale and Fontana, which, along with Oakland and Sacramento, had made bids to lure the Raiders from the Coliseum.

The Raiders can cross Irwindale and Fontana off the map after Tuesday's announcement that the team will remain in Los Angeles.

"I'm not surprised by it," Coach Art Shell said. "But as I've told you before, I haven't really tried to keep up with it because it would be a merry-go-round. If you get involved with it too much, your expectations go up and down. I just tried to keep myself away from it. I'm just happy that we made a decision.

"But I still feel bad for the people in Oakland. And if we had left here, I would have felt bad for the people down here. But I like to think we still have a lot of fans all over the country and Oakland will still support us."

Shell said he thinks the decision will strengthen the Raiders' Southland fan base, which had deteriorated after owner Al Davis announced last March that the team was returning to Oakland.

"You've got to win, and with the uncertainty of the situation, fans didn't want to tie themselves up," Shell said. "Now I think the fans will continue to come out and give us the support, and we'll put a good product on the field for them."

Richard Romanski, in his fourth decade as Raider equipment manager, thought Davis would return to Oakland because Bay Area fans have been more supportive.

"I thought it was going to be just the opposite," Romanski said. "I'm surprised, very surprised. You couldn't believe (fan support in Oakland). I don't think I've heard a boo (in Oakland) since I've been with the team. I guess you have to really do well to get anybody out here. That's not backing up your team. Even if we lost, we still had good fans (in Oakland). It's hard to get used to people not yelling for us over here or booing us. It feels funny. I always thought if you were a fan, you should be with us all the way."

But Romanski, who owns homes in the Southland and the Bay Area, is resigned to staying here. "Hey, it's your job, what do you do?" he said. "I've got a home here and I've got a home there. I've got to take what comes."

Most of the Raider players were not at the training complex because it was an off-day, but those present were generally positive.

"I think it's good for everybody from the standpoint that now you know where you're going to be," safety Vann McElroy said. "It's good that Mr. Davis made the decision now so that the team can focus on what they're going to do and the players can have a sense of security on where they're going to be. It's good for the local guys who live here. They were kind of concerned because they didn't know whether they were going to have to sell and move up to Oakland."

Said quarterback Steve Beuerlein, a Southland native: "I'm excited because I'm a local boy and I get to stay close to home with the people I grew up with."

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