Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said Thursday she remains “firmly committed” to keeping the Raiders in Oakland even though the football team’s owner, Mark Davis, now says he wants to move the football team to Las Vegas and is ready to spend $500 million to make it happen.
Davis made his announcement Thursday at a meeting of the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee, an 11-member panel formed by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval.
His announcement came only a week after the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors both voted to approve a lease extension agreement that will keep the Raiders at the Coliseum for at least one more year and possibly up to three years and only a few days after reports that the team might sell out all of its season tickets for the first time this year.
Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, who chairs the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the Oakland Coliseum’s operations, was less upbeat than Schaff about Davis’ announcement, saying:
“Davis keeps saying he wants to stay in Oakland but now the indications are that he doesn’t want to stay in Oakland.”
Reid said he thinks Davis is being “disingenuous” by telling the Raiders’ loyal fans that he wants to stay in Oakland and asks them to buy tickets for games this year but will not engage in serious talks about building a new stadium that would keep the team in Oakland for the long term.
Davis has previously explored the possibility of moving the Raiders to Las Vegas and made a serious bid to build a new stadium in the Los Angeles area and move the team there but his proposal was rejected by National Football League owners at a meeting in January.
Davis, who said he would contribute $500 million toward the estimated $1.4 billion cost of building a new stadium in Las Vegas, has also explored the option of moving the team to San Antonio.
In a statement, Schaaf said:
“We appreciate that the Raiders have an internationally recognized brand with appeal in many markets. As such, we understand that while our talks with the team continue, they will also explore all of their options as part of this process.”
“The Raiders have explored options in the past and I am sure they will do so again in the future. It’s my job to remain focused on delivering a deal that works for the Raiders, the fans and the taxpayers. … Oakland deserves nothing less.”
“We know this hasn’t been an easy road and we appreciate the patience and persistence of the team and its fans. We remain committed to a partnership that supports a team-centered effort to build a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland that will be successful for the fans and the team, and responsible for the city and its taxpayers.”
A tentative lease extension was announced by the Raiders and city of Oakland and Alameda County officials back on Feb. 11 but Reid said the Raiders refused to resume negotiations for building a new football stadium until the agreement received final approval.
“They chose not to sit down until the extension was finalized and a lot of time was wasted in which we could have been in discussions. … Nothing can happen unless you’re at the bargaining table.”
Oakland Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio is scheduled to meet next week with real estate executive Larry MacNeil, who’s been hired by the Raiders, to talk about building a new stadium in Oakland. Reid said he hopes those talks can still be productive.
Davis said in February that the Raiders hired MacNeil, who spent 10 years as the San Francisco 49ers’ chief financial officer and was in charge of developing that team’s Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, to represent their interests in negotiations with the city and the county.
The Raiders issued a statement in which they didn’t say anything about continuing to try to build a new stadium in Oakland.
Instead, the Raiders said they:
“… would like to thank the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee and (former Las Vegas) Mayor (Oscar) Goodman for their time today as we continue to explore options for a permanent stadium solution. We appreciate the support and passion of Raiders fans everywhere.”