Raiders stay put while Los Angeles gets Rams

It always felt like a Plan C was necessary.

The Raiders, after discussions with the NFL and its owners, came to a conclusion that they would not leave Oakland this season for Los Angeles.

The principal agreement which was decided with all 32 owners in partnership with the NFL and its relocation committee, voted to move the Rams to Los Angeles, with the Chargers getting first dibs as the second team over the next two years.

For the Raiders, the decision doesn’t necessarily force them to stay in Oakland — there are immediate options in San Diego and San Antonio — but does offer extra loan money earmarked for a new stadium, according to Jason La Canfora.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, addressing reporters following the vote, said that a team that stays will also receive $100 million to remain in their home market.

The proposed project in Inglewood, which was the first choice for Rams owner Stan Kroenke, trumped that of the proposed project in Carson, which was the preferred venue of the San Diego Chargers and the Raiders.

Though the specifics of the deal are not yet known, it is plausible that Raiders and Chargers owners Mark Davis and Dean Spanos decided to break their agreement so the Raiders could receive additional funds for a new building.

That money, though, doesn’t necessarily have to be spent to build a stadium in Oakland.

The Raiders’ quest for new stadium started around 2011 and really gained steam over the last two years.

The Raiders have been unable to reach compromise with the City of Oakland, and have had no such luck finding new investors to build a stadium in Oakland.

That prompted the team to take a hard look at Los Angeles, while maintaining that it was not a tactic to coerce the city into spending more money to build a new venue. Davis has always maintained his top priority was to keep the team in Oakland, and that Los Angeles was a last resort.

While fans have reason to be happy, Davis told a scrum of reporters that the resolution was not a win for the Raiders. Asked if he believes the team will be in Oakland, Davis said:

“No. I don’t know where we’ll be. We don’t have a lease right now at the Oakland coliseum. Our lease is expired. … I’m not going to go into ifs, ands or buts right now.”

Davis, who has been believably adamant that he wants his team in Oakland, gets extra means to build, and the money will come with few strings attached.

One major string, though, is that he keep the Raiders in their home market, the greater Bay Area. The team issued a formal statement later in the day, including several words but not many nouns, such as Oakland:

“The Raiders congratulate Stan Kroenke and the Rams on their successful bid for relocation to Los Angeles. The Raiders will now turn our attention to exploring all options to find a permanent stadium solution. We thank fans throughout the Raider Nation for their unrivaled passion and support.”

And the A’s, who do currently occupy the Oakland coliseum on an official basis — there’s little doubt the coliseum would be available to the Raiders if they chose a one-year lease — will have to wait for at least a few moments to consider their options.

A’s owner Lew Wolff issued this statement through the team’s public relations staff:

“The Oakland A’s will continue to explore our options with the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda on a new venue. This announcement by the NFL regarding the Raiders does not change our immediate plans or our goal of securing a new baseball-only facility.”

It’s barely believable rhetoric from an owner who was at least partially involved in suing for the right to move his club to Santa Clara County recently.

Of course, the Raiders now have a total of $600 million to put towards a new stadium, though the expectation is that a new structure good enough to satisfy the investment could cost somewhere in the $1 billion range.

That’s a sizable gap which leaves Davis and company with a few options: a) Sell a percentage of the team, which Forbes valued at $1.1 billion in their most recent rankings; b) consider jacking up the price of season tickets to close the gap; and c) in conjunction with raising ticket prices, begin selling seat licenses, which resulted in $531 million for the 49ers in their shiny new stadium.

Licenses for Levis Stadium were selling for up to $80,000, much more than the Raiders would probably want to charge their fans, especially given the feeling Davis puts off, that he yearns to be around the common folk, and even wants to be one, just like a white suburban kid in the 90’s might have wanted to be black.

There’s no question that a little ingenuity can get the Raiders the home in Oakland that they’ve wanted since they came back from Los Angeles in 1995, but the recent history also points to more unnecessary roadblocks that will keep the Raiders away from their dreams.

Editors note: This story has been updated with more details due to the fluid nature of events.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.