Davis says parking sucks in Santa Clara, will keep looking for “right place” for Raiders

And the hating on Levi’s Stadium continues: Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis says his team won’t move there to share digs with the San Francisco 49ers because the parking lots are too small and traffic is too awful:

“I just don’t think it fits the Raiders,” Davis said Friday. “I’ve said it all along, that there are three words that mean something to me regarding a stadium location. That’s ingress, egress and parking. On game day, our parking lot probably holds the largest non-denominational gathering on Sunday morning that you’ll find. I’m not going to give that up. That’s part of the Raiders in-game experience.”

Given that Davis is in the middle of trying to negotiate a new lease with Oakland, you’d think he’d want to dangle at least the threat of a Santa Clara move to get better terms in his current location. But no, because Mark Davis is either terminally honest, terminally dumb, or just really can’t stand that new stadium the 49ers built:

“The next stadium we build will be around for the next 40 years or so, and that will be for the rest of my life,” Davis said on Saturday. “I want to make sure that, wherever we are, it’s going to be the right place. It can’t be just any place. It has to be the right place.”

At least the San Jose Mercury News’s Mark Purdy loves the Santa Clara stadium, spinning a remark that the head of the Super Bowl committee claims he heard from an unnamed NFL owner into a theory of how Santa Clara will get another Super Bowl sooner than later. Maybe the NFL owners have decided that if football players spend the whole game slipping and falling, at least they won’t be injuring their brains so much by getting tackled?

Trying to figure out Raiders lease talks by quoting mayor not involved in them might not be best idea

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said on Sunday night that she wanted to get Raiders owner Mark Davis to sign a new lease before opening talks on a new stadium:

Schaaf explained that the goal is to secure a renewal of the lease for the Raiders at O.co Coliseum before then focusing on negotiations with team owner Mark Davis that would lead to a “permanent, beautiful home for those Raiders” in Oakland.

At a time when taxpayer money is scarce for stadium projects, Schaaf mentioned only that “limited public tools” would be available to assist the process.

Then Schaaf said on Monday that it’s Davis who wants the new lease, and she’s eager to start talking stadium:

Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf said the team’s focus seems to be geared on securing a lease extension at O.co Coliseum.

“It’s my impression that’s the Raiders’ priority,” Schaaf said Monday at a Super Bowl 50 host committee news conference. “That’s the communications that I’ve heard from them. Of course, I’m anxious to get them back to the table to talk about a new stadium.”

Also, Schaaf isn’t directly involved in lease talks, since those are up to the Coliseum Authority. Also also, she hasn’t actually talked to Davis lately.

Tea-leaf reading is hard!

Chargers agree to move to L.A., vow to stay put in San Diego, all in a day’s work as an NFL owner

So here’s some things that happened on Friday:

  • The San Diego Union-Tribune reported (in an article no longer online in its original form) that the Los Angeles Rams (we should start calling them that now, right?) and San Diego Chargers had reached agreement in principle on a deal to share the Rams’ new Inglewood stadium.
  • Chargers owner Dean Spanos issued an open letter to fans stating that “our team will stay in San Diego for the 2016 season” and while he has an “option” to move to L.A., “my focus is on San Diego.”

So what does this mean, exactly? Clearly, Spanos has gotten Rams owner Stan Kroenke to agree to give him the rest of the year to lobby San Diego to cough up more money to keep its team — or as Spanos put it in his letter, to “determine the best next steps and how to deploy the additional resources provided by the NFL.” (That’d be the extra $100 million that the NFL is offering Oakland and San Diego as a sweetener for stadium deals, something that was completely unthinkable when it was St. Louis asking for it.) So expect some nasty, nasty stadium talks to continue the rest of this year, with Spanos clearing his throat and glancing in the general direction of Inglewood anytime someone suggests he kick in more of his own money.

The big question San Diego needs to be asking now is at what point Spanos will feel comfortable walking away from the table and going to Los Angeles — which unfortunately is unknowable, since the details of the deal between Kroenke and Spanos aren’t public. In fact, we have no way of knowing if the details have even been spelled out yet — it’s entirely possible that Spanos went to Kroenke and said, “Stan, let’s put out an announcement, I gotta light a fire under San Diego, we can work out the rest later,” and Kroenke grunted enigmatically.

In short, the NFL owners are playing this perfectly, levying move threats while openly proclaiming their love for current NFL cities (the better not to provoke pitchforks and torches) and holding their cards close to their vest. Which shouldn’t be surprising, as this is the business they’re in, but it’s always inspiring to watch evil geniuses at work up close. If the Chargers do end up getting the cash and staying put, it’ll be interesting to see if Raiders owner Mark Davis can pull off the same trick with Oakland.

Adelson wants $1b Vegas stadium funded by “public-private partnership,” possibly to lure Raiders

The University of Nevada Las Vegas’s plans to put off further discussion of a new campus football stadium until 2017 just got upended yesterday, as Sands casino company owner Sheldon Adelson announced that he wants in on building a $1 billion domed stadium for UNLV — and plans to meet with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis about possibly having his team play there.

Adelson should be familiar to anyone with an interest in national politics or the journalism industry: He’s a major Republican campaign donor who has had all the GOP presidential candidates competing for his sweet, sweet cash endorsement, and recently bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal while hiding behind a Connecticut newspaper publisher who curried favor with his new boss by writing positive articles about him under a pseudonymous byline.

It may or may not be connected, but the Review-Journal’s story on Adelson’s proposed stadium contains some of the more hilariously credulous statements about a stadium proposal that have been seen in these parts in some time. Let’s begin:

Andy Abboud, Las Vegas Sands’ senior vice president of government relations and community development, said Thursday that Las Vegas needs a modern stadium with at least 65,000 seats to drive additional tourism to Southern Nevada…

“We are moving forward with the stadium concept with or without an NFL team,” Abboud said Thursday. “We see a lot more opportunities — conference championships, bowl games, NFL exhibition football, boxing, soccer, neutral site games, and music festivals. There is an entire segment out there.”…

Abboud said the project would be a “public-private partnership” in which Las Vegas Sands or the Adelson family would contribute an unspecified large portion of the financing.

Okay, sure, it’s Abboud saying all those things, not the R-J. But still, letting stand unchallenged the notions that 1) Las Vegas — Las Vegas — is missing out of tourists because it doesn’t have a 65,000-seat football stadium, 2) stuff like boxing and music festivals is going to represent a significant amount of income for a domed football stadium, and 3) an amount of money can be simultaneously “large” and “unspecified” is pretty dismal journalism. You couldn’t even pick up the phone and call one person not involved in the deal to see whether any of these claims are remotely realistic? Maybe we should check that byline again…

Coliseum development rights could raise only $20m in money for Oakland to throw at the Raiders

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority is set to meet today to discuss a lease extension for the Raiders, which should go relatively smoothly, given that Raiders owner Mark Davis has no other options for where to play in 2016 and the authority doesn’t seem inclined to tell him, “Sign a 30-year renewal or else go play in the street.”

Not likely to go as smoothly is talks over a new stadium in Oakland, since as the San Jose Mercury News reports, even using proceeds from development rights to the Coliseum property isn’t likely to bring in enough money to fill the gap between what Davis is willing to spend and what a stadium is likely to cost:

If the city and BART did assemble the land, real estate experts estimated development rights being worth anywhere from $20 million for office buildings to $50 million for housing...

The amount of available land will depend in part on whether the A’s build a new ballpark at the site and whether Oracle Arena is torn down if the Warriors leave for San Francisco, Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio said. “I think development rights are a medium piece of the puzzle based on the developer and how patient their capital is.”

That’s all interesting, considering that there’s been a ton of speculation about how much the Coliseum property would be worth, given that the East Bay is a white-hot housing market, but the stadium site isn’t exactly in a prime location. (It’s near transit, but kind of a dump. Not that that stops developers in Brooklyn.)

What’s left out of the article, though, is any recognition that whatever the development rights are worth, it’s not free money — this is cash that Oakland could use for other purposes than a stadium, if it wanted to tell the Raiders (and the A’s, presumably) to get lost. Not that that’s necessarily the best option — $50 million in development rights is, sadly, a pretty small price to pay for keeping your sports franchise, as these things go — but it is an option.

So, whatever the development rights are worth, that’s an asset that belongs to the city and county, and if given to Davis, is a loss of future public revenues. If the land is worth more, in other words, that’s not a solution to a problem — it’s just an indication that if Oakland wants to increase its subsidies to the Raiders, it can do so by selling land instead of selling, I guess, blood. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one.

Rams, Chargers close to agreement on L.A. stadium share, say cats

Unsourced reports! We got more unsourced reports about what’s going to happen to the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders!

And sure enough, execs of the Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams (guess we should start calling them that now, huh?) met yesterday, and afterwards issued this statement:

We have concluded our first meeting. We mutually have agreed not to publicly discuss details of this or any future meeting.

Okay, so that doesn’t sound like an agreement is imminent. But it could be! And sources are predicting it, and correct predictions can come from all kinds of sources!

In other news, NFL owners are saying that it was the pretty pictures that Stan Kroenke provided of his planned football theme park in Inglewood that swayed them to approve the Rams move, after initially leaning toward the shared Chargers/Raiders plan in Carson. If true, this is absolutely terrifying — not because the pictures aren’t pretty (as pictures of people wandering hand-in-hand through a futuristic dreamscape go, they’re top-notch), but because it means that NFL owners are susceptible to Calvin’s clear plastic binder. Me, I would have wanted to see some actual financial numbers, even if they were half made-up, but that’s not how these guys roll, apparently.

Mark Davis has no clue where the Raiders will play in 2016

So now that they’re not moving to Los Angeles, where will the Oakland Raiders play? Like, next season?

The Raiders’ lease on the Oakland Coliseum has expired, and though the Coliseum authority is apparently willing to give them a year-to-year lease extension — nobody there has the gumption to tell the Raiders to play in the street if they don’t want to sign a long-term deal — Raiders owner Mark Davis insists that the world is his oyster, except for St. Louis:

Reporter: “Lots of Raiders fans will be happy you’re staying.”

Davis: “Where?”

Reporter: “In Oakland”

Davis: “Are we?”…

Where will the Raiders play next year?

“America,” Davis said. “The world is a possibility for the Raider Nation.”

Davis shot down the possibility of replacing the Rams in St. Louis. Other than that, he seems open to ideas.

Renting from the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara at least short-term is still an option, albeit one that Davis has rejected in the past. Or there’s San Antonio, which has a playable stadium (though Davis would want a new one, and he’d lose leverage by moving before he gets a deal for one), or, um, I guess lots of cities that have big college football stadiums. The NFL’s relocation window ends February 15, so Davis presumably would have to make any decision to move by then, though the NFL could also always change its rules if it wants to.

Hey, you know what Davis should really do? Announce that he’s playing home games in eight different cities — St. Louis, San Antonio, Oakland, London, Toronto, Birmingham, Monterrey, and an eighth to be decided by a text-message contest — and whichever city shows the most “support” (i.e., ticket revenue) will become the front-runner for permanent relocation. Also, he should make it into a reality show. Why am I not the Raiders’ marketing director, tell me?

NFL may have added poison pill to arm-twist Kroenke into okaying Chargers move to L.A.

Multiple insider-type NFL columnists (Mike Florio, Kevin Acee) are reporting that, according to league sources, there’s a poison pill of sorts in the agreement to move the St. Louis Rams to L.A. that could help encourage Stan Kroenke to cut a deal with the San Diego Chargers to play in his new Inglewood stadium: The league has barred Kroenke from starting to sell naming rights, club seats, PSLs and sponsorships until 2017 — unless he brings in a second team before then, at which point he can start selling those immediately.

If true, this is really fiendishly clever of the NFL owners. Without this clause, Kroenke would have almost no incentive to offer a fair deal to shack up with the Chargers, since he’d know he’d have them over a barrel. Instead, he now has a carrot for an early agreement — as does Chargers owner Dean Spanos, who’ll know that the sooner he signs on to Inglewood, the better a lease he’s likely to get from Kroenke.

Spanos now has a big decision to make, because under normal circumstances he’d want to use the Inglewood threat to try to force San Diego into upping its stadium offer, but since that would likely have to wait for a public vote in November, it would eat up all of his leverage with Kroenke. One report that Spanos and Kroenke are already hashing something out was immediately shot down by a Chargers spokesperson, but team execs have otherwise been silent on their plans.

Meanwhile, more of those “league sources” tell Acee that Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is interested in maybe moving his team to San Diego — either at a new stadium or a renovated Qualcomm Stadium — and, and … you know, with all these unnamed-source leaks and so many factions still in play, it’s really impossible to know what’s truth and what’s people trying to spin perceptions, so let’s just stop there. Instead, enjoy Rams and Chargers fans telling Deadspin all the ways they’d like to see Kroenke and Spanos die gruesome deaths.

NFL approves Rams move to L.A., lets Chargers reboot stadium demands, tells Raiders to play in traffic

After a long day that dragged well into evening (for East Coasters, at least), the 32 NFL owners finally voted on which teams to approve moving to Los Angeles, and the verdict was: Stan Kroenke has approval to move the St. Louis Rams immediately while building a stadium in Inglewood, while Dean Spanos has until next January to work out a deal to have the San Diego Chargers join them, with Mark Davis getting second dibs on having the Oakland Raiders share digs with the Rams if the Chargers turn it down.

In other words, pretty much exactly what I predicted on Monday. Yay me! (Though with the writing on the wall at that point, it wasn’t that tough of a guess.)

I’ve written up a long analysis of the winners and losers of this decision for Vice Sports, so please go there now if you want the full blow by blow. For here, I’ll just note a few highlights from The Decision: NFL Edition:

  • Man, Stan Kroenke sure wanted to move to L.A., didn’t he? He’s now on the hook for $2.66 billion in stadium construction costs (according to his claims, anyway, but even if it’s only $1.8 billion that’s still a lot), plus $550 million in relocation fees, which even for a guy with a $7.5 billion net worth is a significant chunk of change. He’ll be able to avail himself of the L.A. market for personal seat licenses and naming rights, and $200 million in NFL G-4 money, and about $180 million in sales tax kickbacks, and … and I still don’t see how he’s ever going to make back his investment, given that only one team in football is worth $2 billion more than the Rams were in St. Louis, and that’s the Dallas Cowboys, who are a case unto themselves. Branding his development as some kind of NFL theme park had better be history’s most successful business move ever, that’s all I can say.
  • All y’all who said the NFL would never approve a stadium plan that was mostly private money, they just did. In fact, this is the third stadium in recent years with relatively little in the way of public subsidies, following the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants and Jets. I wouldn’t presume to think this is going to be a trend — plenty of teams in smaller and less subsidy-averse markets are still getting money thrown at them — but it does show that in particular circumstances, owner-funded stadiums can and will happen.
  • There are a lot of shoes still to drop. First and foremost, Spanos and Kroenke need to start talking about a lease deal for a shared Inglewood stadium, something that hasn’t even begun to happen, given that 24 hours ago Spanos still insisted he’d never consider such a thing. At that point, a new two-front game of chicken will begin, with Spanos simultaneously playing the “I can just go back to San Diego” card with Kroenke and the “I’m outta here if you don’t cough up a stadium” card with San Diego. Meanwhile, Davis is almost certain to start playing footsie with St. Louis for its now-rejected $477 million stadium subsidy offer — in his post-meeting statements last night, he made a point of talking about “Raider Nation” without breathing the word “Oakland” — though he’s unlikely to pull the trigger on anything until he sees whether the Los Angeles option is entirely closed to him.

That’s it for now — like I said, head over to Vice if you want more. Though one more item that I didn’t get to include in the Vice piece is this jaw-dropper from Kroenke post-decision:

Yep, that’s what it was all about: Think of the children. That’ll be sure to get at least a footnote in the next edition of the stadium-grubbers’ playbook.

[UPDATE: One more twist that hadn’t occurred to me when I filed my Vice story: What happens to PSL holders in St. Louis? Looks like they could try to sue for the right to buy Rams tickets in Los Angeles, which even if it would almost certainly fail, would be frickin’ hilarious.]

NFL reported close to deal on shared Rams-Chargers stadium, Chargers call this a load of hooey

Today and tomorrow are the NFL meetings where owners will vote (or not) on which teams will be allowed to move to Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Times’s Sam Farmer says there could be a breakthrough in the deadlock:

On the brink of a vote that could return the NFL to Los Angeles, a consensus is building within the league for the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers to share a stadium in Inglewood.

Multiple league officials and owners not involved with the Inglewood project, or the competing proposal in Carson, say there is momentum to pair the two franchises in what one owner describes as a “transformational” project backed by the Rams.

That would be huge indeed, since so far Chargers owner Dean Spanos has expressed no interest in sharing digs with the Rams in Inglewood, while Rams owner Stan Kroenke doesn’t want to go in on the Chargers site in Carson. So if everyone’s on the same page now, that’s exactly the kind of compromise that could lead to

“On December 7, the Chargers made clear in writing that we had zero interest in the Inglewood project, and nothing has changed since then,” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani said Monday in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.


There’s still a chance that the Times report indicates that owners are planning to deliver Spanos an ultimatum: Either join the Rams in Inglewood or stay put in San Diego. (Farmer also reports that there’s a growing interest in holding the vote by secret ballot, which would make it easier for Spanos’s friends to vote this way without having to admit to it, though with only 32 people in the room it won’t be too hard to guess who voted how.) Though it’s equally likely that the unnamed owners who spoke with Farmer are just trying to create momentum for their plan by leaking it to the press, rather than reporting honestly on it, and the stalemate is still in place. Won’t know until we hear how the vote goes, really.

This is total speculation and tea-leaf reading, but I’m more and more leaning toward putting my money on what I suggested yesterday, an agreement that’s contingent on a deal being worked out — either “We approve the Rams and Chargers moving if they can work out a shared stadium deal” or “We approve the Rams moving, and the Chargers can too if they agree to share the Rams stadium.” That would kick the hard part — working out an agreement between Kroenke and Spanos not just on where to play but on how to divvy up the costs and revenues of a shared stadium — back to those two guys, and at least leave the rest of the league feeling like they’ve accomplished something this week. Though it would still mean we wouldn’t be sure which teams if any were moving where for several more weeks or months, and could end up leading to some really sad lame-duck seasons in 2016.

Or it could still prove impossible to get 24 votes for any one plan, and nothing could get decided. There’s really no predicting what a roomful of rich guys will do.