Raiders to close off top deck of seats they forced Oakland to build in ’90s

Okay, the trend toward NFL teams wanting smaller stadiums is officially a thing: The Oakland Raiders have announced that they’re going to be reducing capacity by 10,000 seats for the 2013 season, including tarping off the top deck of Mount Davis, the stadium addition that was installed for the Raiders’ return to Oakland in 1996.

This would make the Coliseum the smallest venue in the NFL, and would maybe help the team avoid the TV blackouts that have been common in recent years. But mostly, it would mean the Oakland stadium sagas’ final descent into farce: Oakland spent $200 million on building Mount Davis, tried to sell PSLs to pay off the costs then found that no one would buy them, and then saw the A’s owners vow to leave town because the renovations had ruined the stadium for baseball — mostly by blocking views of the Oakland hills, which wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they hadn’t built that towering third deck that the Raiders now say they don’t need.

I’d say this is the greatest example of multi-leveled irony I’ve seen in a while, but it still can’t quite top this.

21 comments on “Raiders to close off top deck of seats they forced Oakland to build in ’90s

  1. None of this surprises me at all. The city of Oakland is cutting their police force and still making payments to this silver and black circus. All I can say is that you reap what you sow.

  2. Yup, and I remember in the mid-90s when their city council was sooooo excited about them coming back that Mayor Wilson donned a Raider’s helmet and looked just like a 10 year old on X-Mas.

    Then the deal didn’t work out so hot and one councilman said “well, the consultants said everything was going to be fine”.

    Oakland is beset by financial difficulties and their city is in desperate need of more police that they can afford while they shovel money to their stadium.

  3. I meant “can’t afford” obviously.

    The Raiders are like Spinal Tap in that they’re now “refining” their audience.

  4. And the legacy of Al Davis in Oakland is now complete. He rushed the team back to Oakland who in turn rushed to kiss his ass and build that monstrosity without considering if either the city or the team needed it. And after 15+ years of struggles we now know. They don’t. And for their trouble they’ve not got a baseball team with one foot out the door in large part because of said monstrosity (both it’s aesthetic issues and the killing in political good will toward sports venues it caused in Oakland), and you’ve got a football team which has not made a mockery of the city’s spending that $200+ million while at the same time openly signaling to the league and the world that they can’t survive in their current situation much longer. And we all know Oakland won’t be able to help them out financially so in essence they’re flashing a big “come court us” sign to Santa Clara and LA. Whoever gets there first gets the team.

  5. SCJ, at $25 a pop for tickets they’re not going to be refining their audience. If anything it’ll get even worse than it is now.

  6. Interesting how the Raiders ownership is not getting any flak for doings this, but when the A’s tarped up the place their owner was a evil.

    Most raider fans seem to think the city of oak with public funds will put up half of the $1 billion it will take to build a new stadium… since they are ok with letting the Warriors and A’s go.

  7. Note that if they play in Santa Clara it will be as a tenant to Jed York and the 49ers. The contract between the city/Stadium Authority and the 49ers owners states that the 49ers alone get to decide if the Raiders can use the stadium. How would that would work with the 49ers fans having to buy seat licenses and no seat licenses for Raiders fans? Oakland clearly showed that seat licenses for Raiders fans doesn’t work.

  8. Raiders dont have the money or the financial plan to build a stadium with out significant public funds, i say 50-75% .

    Santa Clara supposedly is still an option but for the Raiders to make that stadium their future home, its going to take a payment of $500-600 million to the 49ers so thats not going to happen. Maybe a short term lease till their LA stadium is ready…

  9. SCT I read a while back that if the raiders move to SC their fans would still have to buy seat licenses. If it was a long term stay the price would be high and if it was a short term stay, seat license prices would be lower.

    But like you said we know SL dont work with Raider fans…

  10. Hindsight is always 20/20, of course. But Oakland council should clearly have done what almost everyone else did when Al Davis called up to ‘chat’ – hang up.

    To those (any?) of you who live in or around Oakland, let me ask you this:

    Would it have made any difference (to either franchise) if city council had put the $200m into a dedicated football stadium (somewhere…) and left the coliseum as it was?

    In the “modern” sports era, it just seems to me that Oakland can only support one major franchise (and, like Buffalo, perhaps barely at that). Lew Wolff has made it clear he effectively won’t consider any Oakland option no matter what is put on the table. But that aside, the A’s don’t lose money in Oakland, even with the Raiders in situ and the ghoulish memorial to the ghoulish deceased owner.

  11. I’m a Bills season ticket holder, and I can say from experience, the notion that $25 tickets would bring in more kids/parents is laughable. The section under that can’t see the jumbotron is sold for that much, and it’s basically a war zone.

  12. Geuy, why would the Raiders have to pay $500 million to utilize the Niners stadium? Normal rent payments seem far more likely not unlike the Giants and Jets situation at old Giants Stadium.

  13. Davis was a cancer from the start. If anyone doesn’t know check out how he screwed over Wayne Valley and took control of the team.

  14. Seems pretty clear to me that by taking this action of reducing stadium capacity, assuming the Raiders continue to have difficulty selling out the stadium, along with the struggles Oakland and Alameda County pols have coming up with the financing , they are positioning themselves for an easy sell to the NFL in a move to LA as soon as 2014. I know Trask has “intent” to want to stay in Oakland, but not signing a lease extension shows no commitment. Then again, until they can have the money in place and assurances of a new football stadium deal done, why would they sign?

  15. If we take Ms. Trask (Raider’s CEO) at her word that the Raiders want to stay at that location and the Raiders get what they want (a new stadium at the same site), it sets up an interesting scenario with the A’s and Warriors.

    From what I remember of my trip to Oakland a few years back, the (Your Name Here) Coliseum was next to the BART station and was surrounded by parking lots. Any new football stadium would likely be placed close to the BART station and also lead to the demolision of the current Coliseum, if for no other reason than the space is needed for parking spots.

    The Warriors will have a place to go in San Fran but would the timeline for their new arena correspond with the work to build a new football-only stadium? Then there are the A’s…No Coliseum means, no place to play baseball unless they want to rent AT&T Park from the Giants and help the Giants pay off their mortgage. After all the years of bickering over San Jose, it would be ironic if the A’s only choice was to pay the Giants to rent their ballpark (or would that just be good planning on the Giants’ part?).

    This is all speculation of course since I can’t imagine that the City of Oakland would cave into the demands of the Raiders and build a new stadium while laying off police. Oh wait, yes I can.

    BTW, even without Mount Davis, the (Your Name Here) Coliseum would be obsolete as a baseball stadium. The foul territory alone would make it obsolete compared to the new ballparks and the only way to fix that would be to remove the lower deck stands and change the sight lines. Of course, those little 4:3 videoboards just add to the feeling of being in stadium that the 1990s forgot. Mount Davis certainly didn’t help but, by itself, it didn’t make the Coliseum obsolete.

    Maybe, with their new tarp, the Raiders can put a picture of the late Al Davis with R.I.P. on one side and then a picture of dollar bills with R.I.P. on the other side?

  16. @Dan,
    Well the figure of $500+ million is in my opinion for the raiders to be equal partners with the 49ers in the stadium long term. I dont think one party will take all the risk and let some one else come in and use it for the long term with out a significant amount of cash up front.

    Normal rent payments of X amount would work for a short term type of lease and your right is more likely, but then game day revenue (ticket sales, food, merchandise, parking etc.) would have to be worked out.

    Seems that in that case staying at the coliseum, where you paying I imagine lower rent and keeping all the game day revenue is a better deal for the Raiders.

  17. ALK, mlb mallparks become “obselete” when the new revenue generating possibilities are exhausted, not “foul territory”, small-ish scoreboards or hulking football structures.
    The mauseliuem is at that point, with another tennant the A’z can’t unilaterally make the kinds of changes to the place that other franchises can in single use buildings.
    Another reason why Wolff & co. want their own place.

  18. There is nothing in the contract that states that the Raiders would have to come up with hundreds of millions to play in Santa Clara’s stadium. The contract states that the 49ers alone get to decide if the Raiders are Jed York’s tenants – allowed to use the stadium. The people of Santa Clara don’t get any say in whether or not the Raiders come here. There’s a ‘one or two teams’ statement in the ballot measure that people voted for. The word ‘Raiders’ was no where to be seen in the stadium ballot measure. There’s also nothing in the contract about Raiders fans having to buy seat licenses.

    And it isn’t the 49ers taking the financial risk – the $950 million in stadium construction loans is the responsibility of the City of Santa Clara’s Stadium Authority. Those loans come due after construction is finished in 2014, and apparently our city council doesn’t have a plan for how to pay off those loans.

    We who actually live here are weary of people who don’t live here and who haven’t read the actual documents spouting false information about the financing etc. of the stadium.

  19. Paul W, actually that was my point. The stadium / ballpark has to produce revenues commensurate with other stadii / ballparks or else it is obsolete. The Coliseum is obsolete because the seating is so far back near the bases that the seat cannot be sold for the high prices that those same seats are sold in a newer park. The perceived value is not the same since the seats are so far back.

    Advertising revenue is not the same because the video boards are so small and so far back. The Mariners aren’t putting up baseball’s biggest video board because they love bigscreen TV. It’s because they can charge more for an ad since everyone’s attention will be focus on the LEDs and not elsewhere. In the Coliseum the boards are small and they are located above the upper deck down the foul lines. It’s hard to claim anyone is looking at those except occasionally.

    Other areas where the Coliseum lacks is in concession stands. When you go back to a concession stand, you can’t see the game (except on the little monitors) and so the fan’s first reaction was to get back to their seat and not purchase bobbleheads or fuzzy fingers or more food. Without completely gutting the lower seating bowl it would be pretty much impossible to provide any view of the game from the concession area.

    It all goes back to how much revenue the ballpark/stadium can produce and who controls the revenue. From both standpoints, the Coliseum is obsolete for the A’s. So, yes, sight lines and videoboard sizes matter.

  20. Well ALK,
    You have nicely summarized why I’m growing to hate professional sports–sad because it something that I liked when I was young.