Building a new NFL stadium in Oakland would be cheaper than most. Constructing an estimated $900 million venue for the Raiders remains extremely pricey, but it’s south of California proposals in San Diego and the Los Angeles area estimated well over $1 billion.
That’s because Raiders owner Mark Davis wants a stadium that remains focused on football. He wants steady, modern revenue streams, but he says the game-day experience remains key.
“If we were to be in Oakland, we don’t really need to have all the bells and whistles on the stadium,” Davis said in a podcast with ESPN’s John Clayton. “What we want is a football stadium. We don’t need massive clubs and things of that nature. The three things that are most important to me in a stadium up here would be ingress, egress and parking. The reason I bring those things up is that it makes it easy for people to get in and out, and the parking. Tailgating is such a major part of the Raiders game day experience for our fans. That it’s something that I’m not willing to give up. Parking is such an important thing.
“If we have those things and were able to build a football stadium similar to Seattle or something of that nature, we’d be more than happy.”
Davis says the Raiders and the NFL, which provides stadium construction loans, can contribute $500 million on this $900 million venue. That creates a $400 million funding gap. He also said the team “would need the land and the infrastructure taken care of somehow.”
That’s about the only space where the City of Oakland and Alameda County might help financially. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that no public funds would be used for stadium construction.
“We don’t have $400 million lying around,” she told the newspaper.
Public funds from Oakland and Alameda County are still being used to pay down debt from O.co Coliseum expansion that brought the Raiders back to town in the 1990s. There is reportedly $80 million in bonds left to pay down from that debt.
“That money we’re paying now is general-fund money we could spend on police, parks or libraries,” Schaaf told the Chronicle.
Schaaf has said in the past that the public may be able to help with infrastructure, which would help the Raiders’ stadium efforts.
Davis, who remains strongly committed to building a stadium in Oakland despite proceeding with a joint stadium proposal in Carson with the San Diego Chargers, also spoke with Clayton about the challenge of sharing space with MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
“The Oakland A’s have a 10-year lease to remain in the Coliseum,” Davis said in Clayton’s podcast. “One of the plans that they’re talking about is, is us building the stadium in the corner of a parking lot and then, once our new stadium is built, they would rip down (O.co Coliseum) and build the new one for the A’s and build housing and all of that stuff. That just isn’t a situation that I want to get us into. I would like for, if possible, the Raiders and the A’s to stay on that site and that the Raiders and A’s vacate the Coliseum for the next two or three years. We build a brand new football stadium and a brand new baseball stadium on the site and then we’d come back and begin playing in two brand new stadiums without construction going on around us.”
There is great pessimism surrounding the Oakland stadium project, though San Diego-based developer Floyd Kephart has until the summer to present a financing plan that could bridge the $400 million funding gap in the East Bay. If that doesn’t go well, the Raiders could be headed for Los Angeles.
Davis reiterated that sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers in Santa Clara or moving to St. Louis are ideas that don’t “fit the Raiders brand.” He also said that, in a stadium shared by the Raiders and Chargers, switching conferences hasn’t been brought up yet.
While there are both hurdles and options ahead, Davis’ primary concern is finding a venue that fits the Raiders well.
“I believe that the Raider brand is a very unique brand,” Davis said. “It’s something that, whatever stadium that we’re able to build, wherever we’re able to put the team, is going to be the last place the Raiders are going to play in my lifetime. I want to make sure that it’s a Raider-type of situation.”