Oakland public officials were ecstatic when the Raiders withdrew their application to relocate to Los Angeles. The NFL approved the Rams to move to the nation’s second-largest media market, giving the Chargers an option to join them.
That development gave the East Bay hub more time to keep the Raiders in town. Mayor Libby Schaaf hopes to make the most of this overtime period while it lasts.
Schaaf said Wednesday she understands the team’s frustration with the stadium process, and hopes to fix that sentiment in coming weeks.
“We recognize that we have work to do,” Schaaf told CSN Bay Area on Tuesday. “We are absolutely ready to sit down with the Raiders and get to a stadium proposal that is responsible for the NFL, the Raiders, our incredible fans and also for Oakland’s taxpayers.
“We recognize that we’ll have to come up with something that excites the Raiders and excites the NFL. We are up for that task.”
That will take some doing. Raiders owner Mark Davis is clearly frustrated by preliminary stadium discussions with the city, which refuses to commit public dollars to stadium construction and won’t give him as much land as he wants. Davis wants control of the O.co Coliseum site, something Schaaf won’t go for with MLB’s Oakland Athletics using the site and eventually needing a new ballpark.
She made some concessions in recent public comments, likely at the expense of development dollars from the site. She is willing to lease a larger parcel of Coliseum site land at prices more attractive to the team. She is willing to keep 8,000 parking spaces – the current O.co Coliseum site has 9,500 – to help preserve the tailgating experience so important to Davis’ future stadium.
“We can guarantee at least 8,000 surface parking spaces in that Coliseum area and new stadium and the development that we believe can create the revenue flow to finance the whole thing,” Schaaf told reporters on Wednesday.
The city must get creative when it comes to financing. That will come from property taxes and private-party developments on the site (which could help pay off bonds). The Raiders would have $600 million on their end, armed with $200 million from the NFL’s G4 loan program, team investment and the $100 million grant given when the team backed out of the L.A. race. A funding gap exists, as do several other hurdles to getting an East Bay football stadium done.
“The biggest hurdle is piecing together the phase of development and the financing,” Schaaf said Tuesday. “The Oakland A’s have a 10-year lease with the existing facility. We have to respect that, and we’re working to keep the A’s in Oakland with a new ballpark. We have a complex situation with the city and the county in regards to land, but we are confident we can navigate those choppy waters and get to a great solution.”
Davis wouldn’t commit to playing in Oakland next year, though that may be the best short-term option. It’s unlikely, though not impossible for the team to relocate for the 2016 season. They’d have to apply for relocation by Feb. 15 and get approved by a three-quarters majority of the NFL owners, though passing most of the relocation guidelines during the L.A. quest might make things easier. Moving within the market requires a league review as well, though it isn’t a major undertaking.
Oakland needs the Raiders in town to get work done. That might happen. The Bay Area News Group reported that the Raiders are tentatively scheduled to meet with the O.co Coliseum board soon. That board would obviously be open to hosting the Raiders next season on a short-term lease.
The Raiders are exploring their options at home and abroad. Schaaf hopes the Raiders show continued interest in the East Bay and that team and town can work towards a pact.
“We believe that we have a winning equation that can generate the revenue, that can build up infrastructure and preserve that game-day experience with tailgating that the Raiders are so famous for,” Schaaf told CSN Bay Area. “We feel we can get that done will paying respects to the A’s, who are also tenants on that land at least for now.
“Our sleeves are rolled up, we’re sharpening our pencils and we’re very serious about doing the work required to find a deal for all stakeholders. We are ready.”