OAKLAND -– The Raiders agreed to a one-year lease extension with O.co Coliseum, a pact that keeps them in Oakland for the 2016 season at least. A press conference was held to announce this long-expected agreement, and both Raiders owner Mark Davis and public officials made it perfectly clear that at times disgruntled factions share a common goal of keeping the Raiders in the East Bay.
It created a positive vibe, as principal players discussed optimism for the future and the dream of building a new football stadium on the O.co Coliseum site. Then, as proceedings wound down, Davis put the Oakland A’s in the crosshairs. He said, in no uncertain terms, that the Athletics are impeding real stadium progress in Oakland.
The A’s and Raiders currently share O.co Coliseum, and disparate interests have created roadblocks toward new stadiums for either team.
“There’s an elephant in the room, and that’s the Oakland A’s,” Davis said after Thursday’s press conference. “They have to make a commitment to what they want to do.”
The Athletics signed a 10-year lease extension with the existing O.co Coliseum in 2014, an agreement Davis says has hurt development prospects on the Coliseum site. Davis wants the A's to state their long-term plans for a new ballpark, and where that will be. Until they do, Davis says everyone is stuck in neutral.
“That’s the problem. They signed a 10-year lease while we were negotiating with Oakland officials), and it kind of put somebody right in the middle of things,” Davis said. “There isn’t much you can do. They’ve tied our hands behind our back.
“Now it’s up to the A’s to make a declaration of what they want to do. If they don’t do that, I don’t see how we can make a deal.”
Davis hopes the A’s and Raiders can work together under his vision for the Coliseum site. The Athletics prefer to play at O.co Coliseum and build a ballpark next to it. The Raiders want to tear down the aging sports venue, play off site and return to a newly minted site that features a football stadium and a new ballpark.
“We like the game day experience of tailgating on that parking lot. We don’t want to give that up,” Davis said. “People have not listened when I’ve said that I don’t mind building two stadiums on that site. The A’s stadium would take about 12 acres, and a Raiders stadium would take 15-17 acres. That’s fine with me, but I don’t want to give up the parking.”
Davis also doesn’t want to play under endless construction.
“What I do not want to do,” Davis said, “is build a football stadium in a corner of a parking lot while the Oakland Coliseum is still standing and, once we have a brand new venue, we begin to tear down the old stadium and build a new ballpark, disrupting the ingress, egress, parking and tailgating experience for Raiders fans on game day.”
The Athletics were called an impediment to progress on Thursday, but they aren’t the only issue facing Oakland and the Raiders and progress toward a new football stadium.
A funding gap remains. The Raiders can bring $600 million to the table, with $200 million from an NFL G4 loan and another $100 million given by the league after the Silver and Black withdrew from L.A. relocation in 2016. A new football stadium could cost $1 billion.
Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf won’t use tax dollars for stadium construction. The city and team have been at odds over control of the 120-acre Coliseum site. Davis wants final say in land use, in order to preserve the Raiders game-day experience he considers vital to his franchise and future home. That hasn’t been given by the city, and has been a sticking point in recent talks.
“As far as control of that land, whether it’s a long-term lease or a purchase, I don’t know how that would work,” Davis said. “Whatever costs are attached must be taken care of somehow. If there’s a price to that land, that goes toward an increased cost of a stadium.”
The Raiders and the JPA are committed toward keeping the Raiders in town, and this lease extension affords a little more time to work on a permanent solution.
“I don’t think this gives us a sense of relaxation,” Alameda County supervisor Scott Haggerty said. “There is a sense or urgency to continue to move forward and try to get this done. Mark won’t accept anything less that moving full speed ahead to get a stadium deal done.”