For the Oakland Raiders, a new stadium has been on the agenda for decades. Al Davis moved the team twice to get a better venue. As it happens, the city of Oakland has promised the Raiders more than has been delivered. The Raiders–their financial situation precarious, their hope of public funding for a new stadium dwindling–have to decide on the best direction and location for the future.
The current lease on the o.Co Coliseum runs out at the end of the 2013-2014 season. The year long deadline has made the issue of a new stadium that much more urgent. With the Golden State Warriors set to move across the bay in 2017 and the Oakland Athletics exploring a possible move to San Jose, the pressure is on the city of Oakland to step up and save it’s crown jewel.
An$800 million, 50,000 seat stadium was rumored to have been proposed by the Raiders, with $300 million in public funding required to break ground. The financial situation of the city of Oakland is dire and in order to finance the stadium, the city would have to issue long term bonds that could end up costing much more.
If the fortune of the Davis family were more in line with the other NFL owners, a new stadium would have been built years ago. I personally think the Raiders should have shared Levi’s Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers, but that ship may have sailed. My second preference would be for the Davis family to sell the team. In a previous post a reader opined that Mark Davis is too proud to ever consider selling the team. That may be so, but it is in the best interest of Raider Nation to stay in Oakland and frankly I don’t have faith in Mark Davis being able to deliver on that.
The other option is to move to a fickle sports town like Los Angeles. This is a town that has more money than it knows to do with but less loyalty than a pet viper. There could be many locations like the 75,000 seat venue proposed in the City of Industry. The move could happen but Los Angeles will only support a winning team.
That’s celebrity culture. You won’t see Justin Bieber at a Raider game unless they are the talk of the town. These fans have too little self respect to support a great franchise like the Raiders in bad times. The team of the decades as Al liked to call themselves.
There are many teams around the league that have used the threat of a move to Los Angeles, to get a stadium out of their local municipalities–teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts, and Atlanta Falcons. Could the Raiders pull off such a move? The answer is probably, No.
Oakland is in financial mess. They are in fact closer to bankruptcy than to a new stadium funding. The unfunded pension liabilities of the city exceed $2 billion. The city has issued bonds to pay their current obligations and essential city services like police work has been sacrificed in exchange. The lame leaders who have run this once vibrant city into the ground should be ashamed.
The fate of the city is tied to the Raiders, and short of a miracle I can’t see the city being able to afford the luxury of a football stadium.
Raider fans deserve better, but when the options are Los Angeles and Oakland, the fans will have to suffer longer.