Oakland mayor thumbs nose at Raiders stadium deadline, NFL bidding war not really going as planned

It’s NFL self-imposed deadline week for San Diego, St. Louis, and Oakland to come up with concrete stadium plans to keep their teams from moving to Los Angeles, and one shoe has already dropped:

Oakland faces a Wednesday deadline to give the NFL a financing plan for a new Raiders football stadium, but city officials, who have repeatedly said they won’t stick taxpayers with the bill, indicated Monday that no plan is forthcoming.

Instead, Oakland will send a letter to league officials simply updating them on the city’s efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay in town, said Claudia Cappio, Oakland’s assistant city administrator.

This is what’s known as calling the NFL’s bluff: With all indications that the NFL won’t be able to get 24 of 32 owners to agree on an L.A. relocation plan in votes next month, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf doesn’t have much to lose by telling the league “Sorry, no Raiders stadium plan for you.” Especially since at this point, there’s no way Schaaf could present a more lucrative offer than what’s on the table in St. Louis — so her best hope for retaining the Raiders is either that the NFL gives Rams owner Stan Kroenke permission to move to L.A. and Raiders owner Mark Davis is left out in the cold, or that nobody decides anything, either of which means Davis is stuck having to continue negotiations with Oakland or else try to find another city to relocate to.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt Schaaf that if the Raiders do leave, it would solve another problem for her, namely by clearing room for A’s owner Lew Wolff to build a new stadium on the Oakland Coliseum property — which he claims he can do without public funds — instead of having to resort to the problematic alternative sites. We’ll see how this all plays out, but so far Schaaf seems to be negotiating from a position of strength, on the grounds that the city’s sports teams need Oakland more than it needs them — which is refreshing, at least, even if we don’t know just how far she’ll take it.


22 comments on “Oakland mayor thumbs nose at Raiders stadium deadline, NFL bidding war not really going as planned

  1. “…or else try to find another city to relocate to.”

    If the Raiders don’t get the go ahead to go to LA, that’s exactly what is going to happen.

  2. Thumbs up to Libby Schaaf. I’m a RAIDERS fan but I pleased to know that Schaaf isn’t going to sell out the citizens of Oakland so Mark Davis can get his billion dollar playhouse. I want a new stadium for the RAIDERS but if you can’t afford to upgrade your business for the changing times then you should sell your business and move on. I don’t want the RAIDERS to leave but MD need to come with more money on the table and everyone knows he can’t do it

  3. I can’t imagine anything – no bribe, no short-term political or demographic movement – that would motivate Schaaf or the current Oakland city government to give anything to the Raiders. The Raiders don’t have a huge fan base to begin with. By any standard, the tiniest sliver of the folks who care about the Raiders live in the city of Oakland itself, so there’s essentially no one to be lost politically. The main engine of development in Oakland is ten miles across the city, in downtown, North, and West Oakland, and is focused on young people who have been priced out of San Francisco. This is driving condo, restaurant and club development but is largely uncorrelated with sports fandom in the present. (Even the new residents who are football fans are likely to be from somewhere outside of Northern California and likely to be pointed, by job culture, to the West Bay, while the ruffian/redneck image of Raiders’ fans past is likely to be a turnoff.) And of course everyone who has lived in Oakland the last 20 years and knowws anything about it all hates Mt. Davis, whether they are sports fans or not. Add it all up and what political gain is there for supporting the Raiders within the city? The city will continue to gesture because why not, the team is going to be around temporarily. To the extent anything else is true, however, there will be a certain impatience to get rid of the Raiders. Not because people love the A’s or Lew Wolff or trust that they won’t get hosed by a stadium paid for by Wolff, but because with the only currently popular team in the city already three quarters of the way gone, getting rid of the Raiders is the best hope the city has for remaining the home of one franchise for the next generation.

  4. Good for Libby Schaaf but it should be noted that her offer is pretty much exactly the same as what LA is offering, exactly the same as what San Francisco offered the Warriors, and only a bit less than what Santa Clara gave the 49ers, though we’ll see if Santa Clara ends up on the hook down the line.

    Public subsidies seem to be on the way out, at least on the West Coast. You can still get away with transportation improvements and things like that, but not dollars for the building itself. If the NFL does end up moving from St Louis to LA, which admittedly I don’t think will happen, maybe the rest of country will catch on.

    As for Schaaf, she knows this plays well with voters. She has a 68% approval rating. Considering her two predecessors left office with approval ratings below 30% and the last person to have an approval rating like hers is now Governor of California, that’s something. Further she knows if anything is going to trip her up in Oakland it’s either crime or how she handles protestors (not sure which protestors, but people protest a lot in Oakland). Therefore, if potential opponents attack her for not handing money to the Raiders rather than other issues, that’s a good thing for her.

  5. The assumption is that some combination of San Diego/Oakland/St. Louis could move to LA next season, but is that physically possible?

    The commission running the Rose Bowl has said no, so can the Coliseum be made ready for NFL games in eight months? Have short term lease negotiations begun?

  6. BenM: The short answer is yes. The Coliseum is already used by USC so it already hosts football games, just on a different day. USC’s contract requires them to allow NFL games on the same field for up to 4 years. Unless by “ready for NFL games” you mean “add club seats and skyboxes” in which case, no, that’s not going to happen, not now, not ever. However, there are many examples where the NFL has put up with such a situation for a year or two: Current Minneapolis situation, Seahawks at UW, Bears in Champaign, etc.

    As for the short term lease, as all three teams have to figure out short-term leases in their respective cities, moving or not moving is a wash.

    There are many good reasons to believe a team will not move, but having to negotiate a year or two in the Coliseum is low on that list.

  7. What I don’t get is the presumption by Mark Davis that Oakland has money. Has he ever taken a walk around the entire city? About the only entity that can help him build a stadium is the port.

  8. ‘Schaaf doesn’t have much to lose by telling the league “Sorry, no Raiders stadium plan for you.” ‘

    So true – if the Raiders leave, it is a small loss.

  9. jcpardell: Make no mistake, Oakland has money. Oakland is larger than many cities that have tossed money at their teams, including St Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. It is also has a higher median household income than those cities. None of that even takes into account the fact that Oakland sites in a large, very affluent metro area beyond the city limits, nor that Alameda County is one of the 100 most affluent counties in the country.

    If you were to “walk around the entire city” you’d find some poor areas like East Oakland, some rich areas like Rockridge or most of the hills, and some areas being overrun by hipsters like West Oakland. It’s hardly monolithic, nor is it overall all that impoverished.

    That is very different than having the desire to build a stadium. Could they? Absolutely. Should they? Absolutely not.

  10. I just find it quite amusing that the NFL in 2015 got a taste of how it feels to be “leveraged”, both from within (Stan Kroenke buying up the Inglewood site; the Chargers and Raiders aiming at Carson), and from without (the Rose Bowl rejecting a league it knows can’t be trusted as yet in the L.A. market; and now the Raiders getting the Schaaf, so to speak, from Oakland’s mayor), after twenty years of doing it.

    But we’ve stood firm in the L.A. area that any NFL stadium is not going to be built with a penny of taxpayer money; and if the NFL can’t live with that, then that’s too damned bad as far as I’m concerned. To those who equate supporting an NFL team with spending public money on construction of a new stadium, I can only say that we’re not sorry for not doing the latter. Los Angeles can support an NFL franchise, but it will NEVER be on the back of the public. Case closed.

  11. Erik North: You state “Los Angeles can support an NFL franchise, but it will NEVER be on the back of the public. Case closed.”

    Can we clone that mentality and resolve for every other city where major professional sports franchises reside? What a slightly more wonderful world it would be if we could!

  12. Let’s not forget that Inglewood is offering a pile of tax increment financing for “infrastructure” that includes things that aren’t really infrastructure:

    http://www.fieldofschemes.com/2015/01/14/8348/secrets-of-the-inglewood-stadium-plan-revealed-except-for-how-much-subsidy-is-worth-thats-still-hazy/

    Yes, it’s still a relatively small figure compared to the total construction cost. But it’s not entirely off the backs of the public.

  13. Spanos and Davis can’t make Carson work to the league’s satisfaction. To much debt required. Kroenke isn’t taking the St Louis “deal” as it makes absolutely no sense for him to do so. He’s moving to Inglewood with Davis. Spanos gets a chunk of the relocation fee to stay in SD. This whole pissing contest has been for Spanks to get $$$ from Kroenke for taking LA from him, which of course he never had as he can’t afford to do it on his own.

    Large public financing of stadiums Is For all intents and purposes dead. The St Louis deal is laughably bad and the only reason the San Diego plan will ultimately work is because Kroenke will be subsidizing it through a payout to Spanos.

  14. I do wish that other cities had the political fortitude to stand up to the NFL, because that’s really all it would take: either call the Shield’s bluff, or question their trustworthiness. The first is what Libby Schaaf is doing up in Oakland; the second is what the Rose Bowl Operating Committee here in Pasadena did last July. The NFL has been in need of a dose of reality for a very long time, that it isn’t as omnipotent as it thinks it is.

    And in response to the tax incentives that Inglewood is offering Kroenke, yes, I will cop to that as being public money. But they are by no means slavishly prostituting themselves for the NFL, as St. Louis seems to be doing in trying to keep the Rams–a team they have largely because Georgia Frontiere threw a hissy fit in Anaheim twenty-one years ago.

    In terms of the Chargers–personally, I think the Spanos family has shot its wad with the public in San Diego, which is a true tragedy for that great city. But I find their claim that 30% of their ticket sales come from the L.A./O.C. area more than a bit suspect, because it seems that they’re using that as an excuse (i.e., leverage) to keep the Rams from moving back. Even if their claims were true, doesn’t it say volumes about their “inability” to cultivate enthusiasm for the NFL in San Diego itself?

    I don’t claim to have foreknowledge of what the NFL will or won’t do with this situation of putting even one team, let alone two, back into a market it has treated as a third-world bully pulpit for 21 years. But my personal feeling is that Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood project, though it has a few kinks of its own, is the one that can work best for restoring trust in the NFL here, especially given the history of the Rams in this market before Frontiere gummed it all up.

  15. There is land, a stadium and a lot of wealth and areas to build parking but there are powerful power brokers who want to make Raiders a billion dollar scam owned by wallstreet owners. They are pressuring Alameda County to not stop Raiders from moving. City is working with developers to make Oakland an expensive, middle and upper middle class city but it is discriminating against working class and the A’s are a conservative image they like over Raidernation’s image. 81 home games help too. Kenny 12/29 is funny, Raidernation is one of the largest fan bases in the world and the Raiders are a huge seller of merchandise and the billionaires the NFL is working with want the brand and new ownership.

  16. The letter appears to be available here: http://media.bizj.us/view/img/8088182/nfl-ltr-12-29-15.pdf

    Not much novel in it as far as I can tell, though maybe it’s noteworthy that TIFs are still on the table (p. 3).

  17. Well said, Kenny.

    As an older fan I “like” the idea of the Raiders in Oakland. But that’s the heart speaking (and since the Davis family have been such appalling owners, the heart is being tugged in both directions even on that front).

    What matters is what Oakland wants and can afford. The Raiders have a loyal following, no question. But the city really will have to choose between the A’s and Raiders in my view.

    So does it make sense to throw your lot in with an undercapitalised owner with no business background (or alternate source of income) to get ten event days a year in a stadium that will cost twice as much as a baseball facility?

    I would argue no, it doesn’t. Wolff hasn’t exactly been warm to the idea of staying (in fact, they’ve said often enough that there is “no” Oakland option that would work). However, MLB isn’t keen on giving them permission to move for free… so even though they may be unwilling partners, the A’s seem like a better bet for the city (if we accept the premise that it would be “good” for the city to retain one of the two professional teams it presently hosts… and many may not)

  18. … an open question…. or series thereof…

    To those who believe that either the Chargers/Carson plan or the Kroenke/Inglewood plan will go ahead, and that the Raiders will join in as tenants in either facility…

    1. Why do you think the Raiders will be allowed to move and be tenants (paying or otherwise)?

    2. What benefit is it to the league or “landlord” owner to have them?

    3. If they aren’t funding partners in the stadium (which means actual cash… and perhaps even hocking the ’97 Grand Caravan…), what is the benefit (beyond maybe increasing the G-4 loan base… and since the rules around that are whatever the NFL decides at the time, even this is highly speculative) to the primary owner of hosting Davis?

    4. Will Davis pay an equal relocation fee to that of the host owner? Or will the same fee the primary tenant owner pays simply be split by the two franchises?

    As should be obvious, unless at least one franchise is an expansion, I’m not sold on the benefit to the NFL ownership club in general of having a second team there.

    Absent expansion, having a second team in LA only makes the league money if it produces in the mind of some poorly managed host city the fear that they will lose “their” team. This fear can be deployed no matter whether there is a primary team in LA or not.

    When the Rams and Raiders “shared” LA, I think it is important to remember that one was an Anaheim/Disneyland team while the other became (relatively quickly) part of the fabric of the downtown site they played at.

    Ditto the Jets and Giants (if you are old enough to remember when either of them played in New York itself, that is…)… one in the Bronx and one in Queens.

    5. How can the NFL ever tap into that sort of distinct identity if two teams arrive at the same time and play in the same stadium?

  19. All the homies can’t wait for the return of the Raiders to L.A., a real city unlike lame Oakland, The Blue Gangsters will enjoy the games.

    Nor Cal is the biggest joke on the planet.

    Viva Los Raiders