Oakland too little, too late?

oakland city
Too little, too late?

Oakland’s city and county officials voted in favour of entering negotiations to keep the Raiders in Oakland, by backing Ronnie Lott’s and Rodney Peete’s $1.3 billion proposal.

The hard-won agreement will include $350million of public money, but nothing has been confirmed as to where, exactly, that money would come from.

The City voted 7-1 in favour of entering negotiations whilst County was a bit more reticent, taking three hours of discussions to some to a 3-2 agreement.

With The Raiders needing just one win to confirm their playoff status, it was also revealed that any proposal to move to Vegas would not be tabled until the team were out of the hunt for Superbowl honours (or as we optimists like to think, when they win it), rather than at the first opportunity on 2nd January.

Over in San Diego, the Council was scrambling to save ‘their’ Chargers from moving with a proposal to lease the Qualcomm Stadium to the team for $1 per year, whilst talks for a new stadium progress.

So what is it with local politicians in Oakland and San Diego?  You’ve had months, no years, to come up with proposals for keeping your teams. So why leave it to the very last minute to get your backsides in gear?  How can you be taken seriously if you value the teams so little as to only be galvanised when it looks like they are leaving?

Last Ditch Effort from Lott

Ronnie Lott, LA Raider
Ronnie Lott, LA Raider

Officials from the NFL and members of the Oakland Raiders have a meeting scheduled with an Oakland based investment group for further discussions on keeping the Raiders right where they are. The investment group is headlined by the Lott Group, aptly named after Hall of Fame cornerback and Ex-Los Angeles Raider, Ronnie Lott.

Interesting how a hero who made his name playing for the Raiders outside of Oakland wants them to now stay put.

This comes in the run up to the council in Oakland voting on a proposed term sheet for a $1.3billion dollar stadium, an agreement which would put the Oakland area in a strong position to retain the team if it should pass. A day after this vote is scheduled, an NFL meeting is taking place in Dallas to address the issue.

The term sheet from developers outlines the Ronnie Lott group would contribute $400million to the new stadium, but Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has previously stated that there will be no taxes used to raise money for the new stadium (which is understandable after they are still paying off the current one!).

So that begs the question- where is the money going to come from for the stadium in Oakland? The Vegas Raiders have all but financed their new $1.7 billion stadium already, with $750million agreed to be used from public funding and Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson also committing $650million, whilst the remaining $300million would likely come from both the Raiders and the NFL themselves.

Money talks, and right now its screaming Las Vegas.

Chargers stadium plan rejected

chargers stadium moveThe San Diego Chargers were linked with the Oakland Raiders in a proposed move to Los Angeles (see Are the Raiders Moving?).  That proposed move was outvoted by the NFL membership in favour of The Rams moving back to LA and building a new stadium at Inglewood, leaving both The Raiders and The Chargers to look for new or improved homes elsewhere.

Both teams have been asking local authorities for funds to build new stadia, and have been looking at moves away.  Most notably this entire site is dedicated to the Raiders proposed move to Vegas.

The Chargers hopes of a new, improved stadium in San Diego took a hit early in November 2016 when a ballot called ‘Measure C’, run by the Chargers and questioning 110,000 local inhabitants, failed to get a two-thirds majority.  Indeed, it was defeated 57% to 43%.

This is important for the Raiders because the Chargers were given one year to exercise an option to join the Rams in Inglewood in 2019.  If they do not exercise that option, it transfers to The Raiders.

Goodell Pours Cold Water on Vegas Move

Roger Goodell Talks Vegas MoveYou can always rely on the much-loved NFL Commissioner to spoil a party. So it should not come as any surprise to those of us hoping for a Raiders move to Las Vegas that Roger Goodell poured cold water on the project.

Speaking at the NFL Fall meeting in Houston, he said the league had ‘miles’ to go’ before it would give the go-ahead for a franchise move to Vegas, and he wasn’t talking about the 410 miles separating the two locations.  “There’s still a lot of information we need to gather,” Goodell said to reporters, “We need to study everything necessary for the long-term health of an NFL franchise.  Like is there a fan base there?  Is the stadium economics and fan experience at the level that we need?  What is the impact on NFL policies?”  He went on to refer to evaluation groups, surveys and a plethora of other stalling techniques beloved of grey-man committees up and down the land.

At least Goodell didn’t flatly rule out a move and even suggested The Membership vote might be more important than his own opinions.

Meanwhile, Mark Davis has been reassuring Nevada State Governor Brian Sandoval that he wasn’t using the possibility of a Vegas move as leverage for a better deal elsewhere.  “If they come up with what we’re talking about, we’re gonna move to Las Vegas,” said Davis.

State of Nevada approves public funds for Stadium

The raiders are now only a step away from moving to Las Vegas after the Nevada assembly officially approved $750million of public funding for a new stadium. This comes a few weeks after the Nevada oversight committee recommended the public spending in a unanimous vote, and the assembly approved the spending with a surprisingly one-sided vote of 28 in favour and only 13 against.

Still, the whole process can be stopped in its tracks by a governor veto, but that doesn’t look likely to happen as reports indicate there will be a public bill signing coming very soon. If this stage is passed there will be only one final hurdle to negotiate; the NFL owners vote. Of the 32 owners, 24 must vote in favour of the move. This does represent a very high percentage, but one that is not out of the question if some opinions to be believed.

The team could well still stay in California, but at present there is no concrete plan for a new stadium to be built in the area. With no commitment from Oakland to spend public money on a new stadium for the Raiders, its looking ever increasingly like the best move will be to jump ship and move to the city that never sleeps. A reminder sits in the memories of some tax payers in the bay area from the last time the stadium was renovated, as they are still paying off the $180million Coliseum rebuild from the 1990s. So why would they want to contribute more for more uncertainty in the team’s stadium in a few years time?

The destiny of the Raiders is still up in the air, despite all the positive steps regarding the proposed new stadium. All we know is the annual league owners meeting just became a huge focal point for the offseason.