SAN FRANCISCO – Mark Davis can’t avoid a rope line of Raiders fans. Never, ever does. Maybe more than any other owner, he’s a man of the people. The man often flies Southwest over first class or the occasional private jet.
So, when fans could be heard protesting a “Stay in Oakland” movement outside the Ritz-Carlton, it was only natural the Raiders owner would cut off a press session to be with the fans.
He has done so the Saturday of every recent NFL draft, when Raiders fans hold a rally outside the team’s Alameda practice facility. Even with a possible move to Los Angeles a hot topic at this week’s NFL owners meetings, Davis thanked the fans for their support.
“I appreciate you all,” Davis told the crowd of roughly 30 Raiders fans chanting “Stay in Oakland,” and “Carson is a crime." “I can tell you one thing. We’re trying to stay in Oakland. That’s my No. 1 thing.”
Believe Davis when he says it. He is trying to stay in Oakland.
He says those talks aren’t in the 11th hour, but it’s getting close to that time. How much longer his patience lasts remains in question.
I rarely feel sorry for people with multiple commas in their salary, but it’s tough to blame him for wanting steady revenue streams. He wants a stadium that works in a modern era.
We all know O.co Coliseum certainly doesn’t fit that bill.
Davis is clearly bothered by the relative lack of progress developing in Oakland, and expressed that frustration to the press on Tuesday.
That’s a reason for this “parallel path” going on in Carson, where the Raiders and Chargers have developed a stadium proposal to house both teams. He and owner Dean Spanos hired respected former NFL executive Carmen Policy to that Plan B.
Davis will continue to work on East Bay stadium efforts.
Raiders fans demonstrating outside the Ritz-Carlton expressed frustration with the Carson option, which would reunite the Raiders with strong L.A. support.
“I’m not trying to divide the fan base,” Davis said. “…I don’t blame you (for being frustrated).”
There’s plenty of frustration to go around. Bay Area-based fans don’t want their team to leave a second time. Davis is frustrated. The NFL has publicly criticized Oakland efforts. Local politicians are upset by aspects of this process, which has been slower going than they would like while trying to juggle A’s and Raiders teams with disparate ideas for the same parcel of land.
A $400-500 million windfall is the major sticking point, among others. Maybe San Diego-based developer Floyd Kephart can pull a rabbit out of a hat with a financing plan due June 21.
Maybe, as Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday, that the Raiders could be willing to sell a minority stake in the Raiders to help bridge the financial gap.
There are a lot of events left to fall in line in ensuing months in Carson and Oakland. Several uncertainties remain but, at this stage, believe what Davis says. He’s frustrated, but hasn’t given up on staying home.