INDIANAPOLIS -– The Raiders remain focused on building a new stadium that will keep the team in Oakland.
That commitment apparently won’t last forever. The Raiders have developed an exit strategy with an unlikely bedfellow, and it could be executed in a year’s time.
The Raiders and rival San Diego Chargers have proposed to build a privately-funded stadium in Carson to be shared by both teams. According to the Los Angeles Times, which broke the news, the stadium would cost $1.7 billion. The teams have already bought the land in Carson, just south of Los Angeles near the 405 freeway, where a stadium would be built.
The Chargers and Raiders are expected to formally announce this stadium proposal on Friday.
The Chargers have struggled to replace aging Qualcomm Stadium for more than a decade now, with little to show for it. The Raiders desperately want to get out of O.co Coliseum, another artifact currently shared with MLB’s Oakland Athletics.
The Raiders plan to play the 2015 season on a one-year lease -- it still hasn't been formally ratified -- and the Chargers have an exit clause in a lease with Qualcomm Stadium that expires in 2020 and can be exercised early each calendar year.
The Chargers and Raiders issued a joint statement acknowledging the stadium proposal on Thursday night, saying that they would only proceed with stadium plans if efforts to build new facilities in Oakland and San Diego fail.
This move was explained in this a section of the statement originally posted on the Chargers team website.
“We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason," the teams said. "If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises.
“In short, for the remainder of 2015, we intend to move down two tracks simultaneously:
-- On track one, we will continue to work in our home markets to find permanent stadium solutions that are publicly acceptable.
-- On track two, we will work in Carson to preserve our options, and the future economic viability of our franchises, in the event that our efforts in our local markets fail.”
The Raiders emailed the joint statement to local writers, but have not issued further comment on the proposal.
Should this concept become reality, one team would have to leave the AFC West. Sources indicated that the Raiders would be willing to switch to the NFC in order to get this stadium built.
The teams are expected to pursue the signatures required to put forth a ballot measure required for such a development.
This maneuver comes as a response to an aggressive course set by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who bought land in Inglewood for a privately-financed stadium for his team that already has positive momentum built.
All three teams want a piece of the Los Angeles market if solutions can’t be worked out at home, though there is a maximum of two slots available. The Chargers took over the L.A. market when the Raiders and Rams left town in the mid-1990s, and claim that 25-percent of their income stems from the greater Los Angeles area.
According to the LA Times, the proposal mandates that it be a joint stadium without one team holding dominant position over the other. The stadium would seat 68,000 people and could expand to 72,000.
The L.A. Times reports that a stadium could be privately financed due to the ability to sell personal seat licenses in L.A., something the Raiders and Chargers couldn’t do in their home markets. That would certainly assist the Raiders, who need public financing or a significant investment from an outside source to build a stadium anywhere.
Raiders owner Mark Davis previously said that the Raiders could commit $500 million to a stadium project, though that sum includes significant funds from the NFL.
Davis has long said he prefers to stay in Oakland, but that he’s grown impatient with a lack of progress towards construction of a new stadium. The latest attempt to build a stadium in Oakland is fronted by San Diego-based developer Floyd Kephart, who is working on a plan to build and finance a stadium on the existing Coliseum site.
Davis held a public flirtation with the city of San Antonio last year, a courtship that included stadium proposals, a trip by Raiders brass to the Alamo City and further discussions when a San Antonio delegation came to Oakland during the 2014 season.
The San Antonio talks were largely viewed as an ineffective leverage ploy. This joint stadium proposal with the Chargers is significantly stronger.
The teams’ joint statement says that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s committee on Los Angeles knew about these efforts. The relocation of any team must be approved by three-fourths of NFL owners.
The NFL has already stated that no team will play in Los Angeles during the 2015 season, though teams seem to be angling for L.A. in 2016. This stadium proposal would fit that timeline, though the Raiders and Chargers would require a temporary home. They would most likely play in the Rose Bowl, though the L.A. Coliseum remains an option.
There are several hurdles to clear before this project could become reality, but this stadium proposal is a strong statement that the Raiders and Chargers are planning a way out of town while still working to stay in their home market.
The Rams, Raiders and Chargers all played in Los Angeles previously. The Chargers played the 1960 season there as part of the American Football League. The Rams and Raiders left the city after the 1994 season. The Raiders were there for 13 seasons, and have a passionate fan base that resides in Southern California.