A plan aimed at keeping the Raiders football team cleared its first hurdle Tuesday when the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 to approve a non-binding term sheet for a $1.3 billion stadium plan.
Board of Supervisors President Scott Haggerty said, “Let’s go to the next step of the exclusive negotiating agreement and the disposition and development agreement and see where we wind up. We’re not committing tax dollars.”
But Supervisor Keith Carson, who cast the lone vote against the plan, said he’s concerned that the project could divert money from the county’s core function, which he said is providing important services to needy people.
Carson said, “I want to make sure Highland Hospital (the county hospital in Oakland) is up and running and people get their welfare checks.”
Carson said he’s also concerned that the county is in precarious financial shape because of the election of Donald Trump, who he said could significantly cut federal funds to the county when he takes office as president.
Supervisor Wilma Chan, who abstained, said the community has been very loyal to the Raiders but she doesn’t know if the team wants to stay.
“The main issue is if the Raiders really want this deal,” Chan said.
Funding for the new stadium would come in part from $400 million of private money from an investment group headed by former San Francisco 49ers star Ronnie Lott and $200 million in infrastructure money from the city of Oakland.
The plan also calls for the Raiders and the National Football League to contribute a combined $500 million but neither entity has supported the plan so far.
The Oakland City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan tonight.
Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo, who spoke in favor of the project at the Board of Supervisors meeting, said he believes the City Council will approve the plan tonight.
Oakland and Alameda County officials are rushing to get the plan approved because National Football League owners could vote as early as January on the Raiders’ plan to move to Las Vegas, where there’s a plan to build a new $1.9 billion stadium, which would be financed in part by $750 million in hotel tax money approved by the state of Nevada.
After the meeting, Lott said, “This agreement benefits everyone”
because he believes a stadium-building project would create many jobs.
Gallo said if the council approves the plan tonight the next step will be for Lott and his investment group to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s owners.
Gallo said, “I feel confident the owners will vote to keep the Raiders in Oakland.”
The plan calls for a 55,000-seat stadium at the Oakland Coliseum complex for the team, plus offices and a hotel.
Lott brought a group of sports stars with him to the Board of Supervisors meeting to urge the board to support the plan.
Former Raiders running back Marcus Allen said, “The heart and soul of the Raider Nation is here in Oakland.”
Allen said, “If this team does not remain here there will be a black hole here in the city of Oakland. We can’t let that happen.”
Former pro football quarterback Rodney Peete, who is Lott’s partner, said, “We really believe that we have the right team to make this plan happen.”
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former pro basketball star who also played at the University of California at Berkeley, told the board that the city and the county can still keep the Raiders in Oakland, noting that he was able to keep the Kings basketball team in Sacramento even as it was close to moving to other cities.
“As long as there’s still time on the clock, you still have a chance,” Johnson said.
Former Raiders tight end Raymond Chester also urged the board to support the agreement.
Supervisor Nate Miley, who’s been on the board for 16 years and previously spent 10 years on the Oakland City Council, said this deal is better than the deal the city and county made with former Raiders owner Al Davis in 1995 to lure the team from Los Angeles back to Oakland.
Miley said the 1995 deal left the city and county with large debts because a plan to finance it largely through the sale of personal seat licenses, which gave fans the right to buy season tickets, was a failure.
Miley said in the current plan, “The county’s only exposure is the land (at the Coliseum complex), not dollars.”
He said, “We’re committed to saving the Raiders but we’re also committed to make sure the taxpayers of Alameda County aren’t left in a vulnerable position.”
The Raiders didn’t respond to a request to comment on the board’s vote.