Well, now, this is interesting:
The Oakland Raiders owe hundreds of thousands of dollars in parking revenue to the Coliseum stadium authority, which puts them in default on their lease and could jeopardize the team’s ability to keep playing at the Coliseum…
An audit by the authority discovered the Raiders have been making only minimum payments since at least 2013, and owe an estimated $25,000 more per game since then, which could total more than $800,000.
The team has exercised its option to play in Oakland for the 2017 season while their new stadium is being built in Las Vegas. But under the terms of their agreement, if they’re in default and do not make good on the money they owe, that option can be voided.
What’s significant isn’t the $800,000 in missed payments — that’s chump change in the sports industry — but the fact that it puts the Raiders in default of their lease. As we’ve covered here previously, the county-owned Coliseum Authority loses about $1 million a year hosting the Raiders, and county officials would love to see the team leave ASAP, but are hamstrung by two one-year lease extension options that it foolishly handed to Raiders owner Mark Davis last year in hopes it might entice him to stay put. (Note to elected officials everywhere: Giving rich people things for free does not induce them to do nice things back.) If the authority can void that lease on the grounds of missing parking payments, though, then suddenly it can drive a hard bargain with Davis if he wants to stay put until his new Las Vegas stadium is ready — say, by demanding that he help repay the $80 million in public debt that remains on bonds for the Coliseum’s renovation for the Raiders back in the ’90s.
Sadly, authority board members said that they’ll let the Raiders stay put through 2018 so long as Davis makes his back payments, which seems like a missed opportunity. (Though I should say I haven’t actually read the lease language, so I’m not sure how easy it would be to declare the Raiders in default if Davis came up with the $800,000.) It’s hard to see the Coliseum Authority agreeing to let the Raiders play in Oakland in 2019, though — unless, maybe, they came up with $80 million in rent? We can dream, anyway.