Raiders toss Hail Mary toward Oakland future
Raiders owner Mark Davis said Thursday a tentative lease extension agreement that will keep his football team in Oakland for at least one more year creates a chance to work out a deal to build a stadium that will keep the team in the city for the long term.
Flanked by several city of Oakland and Alameda County officials at a news conference at the Oracle Arena, Davis said:
“This is an opportunity to create a new future in Oakland.”
Davis said the Raiders and the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority, which consists of city and county leaders, have reached an agreement in principal on extending the team’s lease at the O.co Coliseum for one more year, which means the team will continue to play at the aging stadium again next fall.
Davis, who has been exploring the possibility of moving the team to other cities such as Los Angeles, San Antonio and Las Vegas, said the agreement also includes two additional one-year extensions that could keep the Raiders in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons as well.
In addition, Davis said the Raiders have hired senior real estate executive Larry MacNeil to represent the Raiders’ interests in negotiations with the city and county about the possibility of building a new football-only stadium at the Coliseum complex.
MacNeil spent 10 years as the San Francisco 49ers’ chief financial officer and was in charge of developing that team’s development of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Davis said McNeil “has helped build a new stadium here in the Bay Area and understands the political machinations” that are involved in getting such a project approved.
Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, who chairs the Joint Powers Authority, said,:
“This truly is a good day in Oakland. … This is an opportunity to accelerate our pace in building a new football-only stadium.”
Alameda County Board of Supervisors President Scott Haggerty, who’s on the JPA’s board, said:
“Today is like giving birth to a baby because it’s a new beginning. … There’s no sense of relaxation and we need to continue to move forward.”
The issue of who pays the estimated $900 million cost of building a new stadium has been a major hurdle in previous talks between the Raiders and the city and county.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has said the city won’t directly help the Raiders pay for building a stadium but is prepared to pay for infrastructure improvements on the 120-acre Coliseum site that will be owned by the public in perpetuity.
Davis said today that the Raiders are bringing $600 million “to the table” because it is willing to put up $500 million toward construction costs and the National Football League will contribute an additional $100 million.
Davis said that although he has explored the possibility of moving the Raiders to other cities:
“I never said I wasn’t interested in staying in Oakland. … As an owner, if people call and make you an offer you have to look at it but my heart is here in Oakland.”
Davis said it’s possible that both a new football stadium for the Raiders and a new baseball stadium for the Oakland A’s can be built at the Coliseum complex, saying a baseball stadium would take up about 12 acres and a football stadium would take up 15 to 17 acres.
But he said the A’s “need to commit as soon as possible” to building a new stadium at the complex “so we can design and do infrastructure for two new stadiums in Oakland.”
Davis said he doesn’t want to build a new football stadium at the complex and then have fans’ access to the stadium interfered with if a new baseball stadium was built at the site several years later.
Reid said, “We have a great opportunity to keep both teams here” and he thinks the Raiders and A’s can co-exist at the Coliseum site.
The Raiders’ current one-year lease at the O.co Coliseum expires at the end of the month.
The tentative agreement on the lease extension must be approved the Oakland City Council, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the JPA and NFL owners.