The Oakland Raiders and the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority came to an agreement in principle to officially play the Raiders 2016-17 NFL season at the Coliseum, with two one-year options following. The agreement is pending approval by both the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Raiders owner Mark Davis took the opportunity at the press conference announcing the agreement to try to place blame on the Oakland Athletics for making it difficult for the Raiders to get what they want:
I do not mind if we build two stadiums on that site. The A's stadium would take about 12 acres. The Raiders stadium would take about 15 to 17 acres. That's fine with me but I do not want to give up the parking. If in fact the A's do want to stay in the Oakland Coliseum site they need to commit ASAP so that we can go ahead and design and take down the Coliseum, provide all the infrastructure that's necessary to build two brand new stadiums in Oakland and two teams will then come back in and play in two brand new stadiums.
Why should the A's bet on Mark Davis' whims and the nine or ten games a year he brings to the Coliseum Complex when it's still not clear how he's going to bridge the $300 million gap to a $900 million football stadium? The Raiders only have $600 million between the $300 million cash it can put up, $200 million NFL G4 stadium loan, and $100 million NFL grant as consolation for losing the L.A. vote.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has made it abundantly clear that the City of Oakland will not publicly subsidize a stadium, only going so far as to make appropriate infrastructure improvements. Her only concession since the NFL owners meeting on relocation has been to promise to keep 8,000 of the current 9,500 surface parking spaces at the Coliseum, limiting ancillary development opportunities. Both the A's and Raiders want to keep a lot of surface parking if they stay at the Coliseum site.
And if they have a plan to overcome that financing gap, what are the Raiders even worried about? The Coliseum lease with the A's specifically provides that if the Coliseum JPA and the Raiders work out a stadium plan that requires demolishing the Coliseum, the JPA can terminate the lease with the A's with two years notice.
It's a joke to demand that the A's plan around the Raiders when it's Mark Davis still looking for $300 million. It should be the other way around, and the A's should not lift a finger for the Raiders until they can put the money on the table that will force the A's out of the Coliseum.
Davis went on:
What it's going to take to get something done on this site and in Oakland, at least on the Coliseum site, is for the A's to make a commitment to Oakland, and tell the people what they want to do. And they've got to tell [the JPA, the City of Oakland, Alameda County], and [they] have to tell me what's going to happen. That's what I've been saying continually and consistently all the way along.
What it takes is a lot of nerve for year-to-year tenant Mark Davis to go from imminently about to leave for L.A. last month to calling out the A's to commit to Oakland. It's more nerve to do it when he's still waiting to see if the San Diego Chargers stay in place so the Raiders can exercise their option to join the Rams in Los Angeles.
Finally, in response to a Raiders fan expressing his support for Davis to stay in Oakland at the press conference, Davis had this to say:
I have no doubt personally about the fans of the Raiders in Oakland. There's no question in my mind. What you just said has to be heard by the people that are sitting up here next to me and understand how important we are to you. And I believe these people do understand that, but the message has to be clear to them. You don't have to sell me! I've put on the table what we can do. We want to stay, but we need help.
"We need help." Oh please. This is yet another ham-handed attempt to rally Raider Nation into pushing for public stadium funding out of a city that lists public education, jobs, and public safety as its top priorities while keeping sports teams in town ranks at the bottom. There is no political will for direct stadium subsidies in Oakland, and every time Mark Davis says he just needs Raiders fans to step up it's clear how much he's refusing to understand the political realities.
Most pleasing in all of this is that Lew Wolff appears to have decided to let their work on stadium options play out behind closed doors rather than respond to embarrassing incompetence by public officials. Perhaps it helps that he's now working with an Oakland mayor who doesn't seem interested in inventing Dubai princes or handing out exclusive development deals on the Coliseum to someone neither team wanted to work with.
No, instead, the A's released this statement on Mark Davis' press remarks:
The #Athletics official statement: pic.twitter.com/IGMDTEGbhA— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) February 12, 2016
Professional and to the point -- a contrast, at least this round, to the ridiculousness expressed by Mark Davis on Thursday.
UPDATE (12:46 PM): A's managing owner Lew Wolff released a statement on Friday responding to Mark Davis' comments:
It is unfortunate Mr. Davis decided to bring the A's into his discussion about the Raiders' stadium lease. We respect his right to explore his options in and out of Oakland, including his widely reported consideration of Los Angeles and other markets. The A's signed a 10-year lease at the Coliseum because we are committed to Oakland. Mr. Davis has said he is fully committed to do a new football stadium in Oakland and there is nothing in our lease that precludes Mr. Davis and the Raiders from building on the Coliseum site.
As we stated yesterday, the A's are aggressively working with the city to evaluate venue sites in Oakland. Our efforts are fully focused on Oakland. Although the Coliseum remains the main focus of our venue efforts, we are also evaluating potential sites throughout Oakland. We are confident our efforts will continue to move forward and we will share our progress throughout the process.