Raiders owner: Two can play at “we won’t sign a lease, we’ll be homeless” game

So Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff thought he was clever with that “we’re only going to sign a long-term lease under our conditions, or else just we’ll go play in the street” threat? Well, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis knows how to play that game, too:

Davis said he hasn’t asked for a one-year extension on the Raiders’ lease at Coliseum – which expires at the end of next season – and has no plans to do so.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently brought up the idea of the Raiders renting the field at the 49ers’ new stadium in Santa Clara, but Davis is opposed to that idea and seems to be looking for other places to play in 2015.

Now, it’s important to remember that absolutely everything in Oakland right now has to be viewed in terms of the long game of which team (if either) will get control of the Oakland Coliseum site, both for stadium-building purposes and for other-development-building purposes. Looked at in that light, this tells us absolutely nothing: If Davis genuinely has a secret plan to move the team elsewhere, sure, this is exactly how he would be behaving. And if Davis doesn’t want to move, but just wants leverage to force Oakland to make him top dog in any Coliseum site plans, this is also exactly how he would be behaving.

In fact, it’s an absolutely typical gambit: Everyone from the Florida Marlins to the New York Yankees has warned that if they didn’t get what they wanted, their lease would expire and they’d be left homeless — and in every case, when push came to shove, a short-term extension was agreed upon where needed, because it’s not really like Oakland would say to the Raiders, “No, you can’t play in the Coliseum” or Davis would say “We’ll just sleep on our friend’s sofa,” would they?

Still, what with all the chatter about San Antonio wanting a team and Magic Johnson wanting L.A. to have a team, this is bound to kick up lots of “Where will the Raiders play in 2015?” headlines. Which is just what you want when going into lease talks with local elected officials, so nicely played, Mr. Davis.

30 comments on “Raiders owner: Two can play at “we won’t sign a lease, we’ll be homeless” game

  1. I would love a city to someday say:
    “Oh your lease is up? We are going to tear that building down and reuse the space. Best of Luck!”

    There were some (very brief) moments where this looked like it had a .01% chance of happening with the Vikings and it was hilarious.

  2. You’ll never guess what topic got a good several minutes’ discussion this morning on ESPN’s Mike & Mike morning show.

    Well, yeah, Tiger Woods’ back injury, but also this meaningless “we’re leaving Oakland unless you give us stuff” story… :)

    Considering how close the show is to the NFL (this is the show where the league tried to explain the Ray Rice suspension, after all), I suspect that the show gladly floated the NFL’s trial balloon to see if they can get Oakland to panic…

  3. I don’t think it’s a bluff this time Neil, nor is it really a comparable situation. Wolff was saying he wanted to sign a lease on his terms or else they’d look at other places in the Bay Area (namely a temp venue or AT&T Park). And you could argue that Wolff was bluffing, obviously Oakland didn’t think so. On the other hand, Davis is simply saying they’re not signing a lease on the Coliseum, period. He’s not trying to negotiate better terms with Oakland, he’s simply informing them he’s not coming back, and at the same time advertising his team’s availability to cities like San Antonio and Los Angeles. And so far both have taken the bait.

    The real story is now going to be the bidding war between interest in those two cities (and any other suitors that might pop up between now and the end of the season) as Oakland is already out of the running since they have nothing to offer. San Antonio has public money for a new stadium and a 1993 NFL spec stadium available as a temp venue. LA has several highly monied groups that Davis could partner with as well as 2 NFL capable temporary venues. The race is on.

    However this does look to be the final season of the Oakland Raiders.

  4. Final season in Oakland? I’d bet against that, at anything close to even odds.

  5. I’d take that bet. I just don’t see that Davis gains anything trying to bully Oakland. Just like you can’t get money from a broke hobo, he’s not going to get any money out of Oakland either. They have none to give for a new stadium (and the voters are more likely to pack the Raiders moving vans for them then to vote to give them even more money, not with $180 million still outstanding from the Raiders last fiasco). And the lease terms they currently have with the city are ridiculously generous with the city subsidizing the Raiders rather than collecting any rent from them. There’s nothing to be gained from Oakland at this point for the Raiders.

    Which leaves the only real reason he’d be pushing Texas as him playing Texas against LA. By pushing the very possible San Antonio option (fact is they could start playing there next season without much difficulty), he’s not only laying the groundwork for a good fallback, but he’s also lining up two owners, one a very long term and strong voice in the NFL lodge, to bolster any move he makes regarding LA. Jones would rather have Davis and the Raiders in LA and now Davis has Jones there to champion such a move. So he’s playing owners against each other in favor of LA, he’s got the cities playing against each other. And none of it points to him having any further interest in staying in a city his family has already bled dry in a market that has never really cared about his product beyond mocking them for the number of blackouts and losses they’ve incurred over the last dozen years.

  6. Very well put Dan about playing owners against each other. If Davis is dead serious about leaving and judging by the comments he is it looks at least to me that San Antonio has the inside track as of today. If I were Davis and Hardheaded, LA would be my choice based on previous fan base. But LA and probably the league don’t want you Mark so count your blessings where they be.

  7. @Dan
    “The real story is now going to be the bidding war between interests in (San Antonio and Los Angeles)”

    You’ve got to be kidding. There’s no bidding war and the NFL is not going to approve a Raiders move to LA, that’s just silly. No approval, no league money, no new stadium.

    Jerry Jones doesn’t have a lot of allies in the NFL and the Davis family are persona non grata. The Raiders options are Oakland, Santa Clara, or nothing.

  8. Nice Neil

    Just yesterday in the Spurs SA thread I posted “You think the OAC would say “no Raiders you can’t play here?””

  9. Dan says “And none of it points to him having any further interest in staying in a city his family has already bled dry in a market that has never really cared about his product beyond mocking them for the number of blackouts and losses they’ve incurred over the last dozen years.”
    Maybe they incurred the blackouts because of the losses?

  10. No I don’t think the OAC would do that seeing the A’s will be playing there for a while. Bet Davis wishes they would so he could try some posturing and the like. If he’s got a deal worked out with San Antonio which I don’t think he has then he’s a pretty good poker player. If San Antonio falls thru which I think it will its good Old Oakland as I don’t think the 49ers want him either.

  11. John, you seem to be under the impression that the NFL has to approve any move Davis wants to make. They don’t. His father proved that when he moved not once, but twice against the NFL’s specific wishes and his father even sued to now guarantee that right. Now they can withhold money, but if they do end up in LA there’s going to be someone Davis is partnering with be it AEG or Guggenheim. And if so you can bet the NFL would want to get that kind of monied owners in on one of their franchises, particularly their currently least valuable and most cash strapped franchise.

  12. Dan you’re living in the 1980s. No NFL approval, no G-4/G-5 NFL money, no stadium.

    Giving up ownership rights for LA would be moronic because the majority of NFL revenues are shared, that’s why no team was interested in the ridiculous AEG deal. “Cash strapped” is a joke, you really have a lot to learn about the NFLs business model and finances. SMH.

  13. @ Pauly

    The Alamo Dome needs a lot of upgrades, an SA study said it would be more economical to build a new stadium. Either way Davis will need NFL G-4/G-5 money. The days of moving without league approval are done.

  14. San Antonio Alamo Dome would be a temporary home as would be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. I think the NFL would push the Chargers/Rams shared stadium plan over Davis moving anyday.How many owners have to vote to approve a move?

  15. Dan, Al Davis lost a lawsuit over a decade ago over the LA market belonging to the Raiders. In losing the lawsuit, the NFL did re-establish a certain level of authority on things such as franchise movement.

  16. Pauly

    Goodell sent out a memo 2 years ago about relocation. It was specifically tailored to the Raiders, the memo “insists teams “Evaluate all stadium opportunities in its existing market.” This means the shared stadium in Santa Clara must be a complete non-option as opposed to simply be an option the Raiders would prefer not to explore.”

    The league could change their mind but I don’t see any option outside the bay area.

  17. Down here in LA on ESPN sports talk 710 some beat reporter covering the Raiders in Oxnard talked about Mark Davis meeting with people who hold land in the hollywood park area. This is just south of downtown LA and is an area that Al Davis tried to get a stadium.

    Probably wont happen either but just another “player” to force the issue with Oakland.

  18. @ guey – Was it Stan Kroenke?

    @pauly – This says 9 votes to block.

  19. “This means the shared stadium in Santa Clara must be a complete non-option as opposed to simply be an option the Raiders would prefer not to explore.”

    @JohnO – Does Jed York saying “LOLNOPE” count as making Santa Clara a complete non-option?

  20. @JohnO
    Ok so the NFL has the policy of evaluating stadium opportunities in existing markets. Don’t the people who bought PSL’s or whatever there called in Santa Clara have the first option to buy other events in the stadium. Davis must know this or if he was serious he would of chipped in with the 49ers to build Santa Clara getting something then back. If it came to a vote I think the owners would vote to let Davis move to San Antonio but Not to LA. If San Antonio falls thru before an owners vote then Davis option is the Oakland Colisium,AT&T park,Berkeley,or Santa Clara in that order; forget about the last two options anyway.

  21. Pauly, there is no Chargers/Rams shared stadium plan… There’s in fact no plan that involves either team to date. Only thing that’s been done specifically with either of those teams at all is that Kroenke, who owns the Rams, bought land in Inglewood. Nothing more.

  22. @ Pauly PSLs do not cover a second NFL team, this was covered here a few weeks ago.

    @ SierraSpartan York hasn’t said No, he’s been quiet to not ruffle PSL buyers but they built the stadium with 2 home team locker rooms for a reason.

  23. As someone who doesn’t care about the Raiders and cares more about the A’s it is a victory to see the A’s as more in control of the Coliseum site after twenty years of Oakland bending over backwards for Gollum and his Raiders.

    The Mt.Davis expansion was something that NEVER should of happened.

  24. I think the Raiders will look at Levi’s Stadium & California Memorial Stadium for a 2 to 3 year lease. No one will move to LA unless they know a stadium is being built and for whatever reason they want nothing to do with the City of Industry Stadium when it’s shovel-ready.

    I think San Antonio is becoming a serious target for the NFL and the City is interested. I believe in the end that the Rams will stay in St. Louis then it’s a toss-up with the Raiders/Chargers, they could stay in their markets with new stadiums, one in LA and one in San Antonio or both in LA. Weird.

    In the end, I believe the NFL should just schedule 4 International Series games a year at Wembley Stadium and leave it at that. Grow the game for a decade or two before considering expansion into London and with technology getting better maybe flight times can be cut in half by that time.

  25. @Neil- I agree with you on taking a bet that the Raiders will be in Oakland next year.

    Here are the issues:

    -The NFL issued a moratorium of understanding on relocation and one of those steps is exhausting all options in current market. Has Mark Davis done that? No, there is a NFL stadium 35 miles away with a 2nd home team locker room. Has he exhausted this option in his current market? No….

    -Is there an financing plan in place for a new stadium with a ground breaking date? No, the last thing the NFL wants is to have a team indefinitely in the Rose Bowl or Alamodome without a definitive new stadium on the horizon. With TV being equal across the markets, it makes no sense to leave a fan base that has taken 20 years to rebuild after a lost generation.

    -The NFL wants to keep LA open for other teams who need stadiums and the Raiders are not one of them. The Rams/Chargers are the prime candidates, if a team comes to LA it would hurt the Chargers big time as with no LA team they get all the Southland sponsorships as SD is small market on its own.

    -Stan Kroenke is the only owner who has the land to get this done in California. Mark Davis wants a handout and is not going to get one in California. His best bet is to pray for a San Antonio miracle where they float bonds and pay it off with a hotel/car tax or something of the nature….not happening by next season.

    -Davis is not willing to cede control to another owner to get the stadium. He has no plan and does not think more than 1 step ahead.

    As you can see, the Raiders are stuck in the Bay Area for the foreseeable future. Davis thought Jed York couldn’t get it done in Santa Clara and would come crawling to Oakland…..bad bet.

    Davis should have teamed up in Santa Clara and preserved his fan base. But like his daddy he doesn’t care about the fans and refuses to raise the money like York did.

  26. I think they are Gone from Oakland. The question is What does Mark want?
    Does he want to cash out? Move to LA and sell to a group. Los Angles has the biggest pile of money and everyone knows that.
    If the Raiders go to LA he will have to take on the partners getting the stadium built.

    If he goes to San Antonio he may be able to hold on to his 47%. Jerry Jones is his mentor (really?). Jerry’s model is manage the stadium and the revenue generators around it. San Antonio may build him just that. Lots of land around this city for a stadium.

  27. So many ways to jack up a city and land some public stadium cash. . . sigh. It makes me wish I could run a whole new stadium funding scam, it’s so much fun!

  28. I think that the Raiders are gone in Oakland, unless Oakland deals with Mark Davis and A’s owner, Lew Wolff. They may broker a deal that get Coliseum City project off and running. They may have enough room to share both a baseball stadium and a new football stadium at the current Coliseum site. However, I don’t hold much hope on that.