One Coliseum, Two Teams

As 2010 approaches, Oakland, the A’s, and the Raiders will have some very difficult decisions to make. Oakland is severely cash-strapped and still stings from the 1995 Coliseum renovation, which brought back the Raiders but has put the JPA in deep for the next two decades.

The Raiders have settled most of their issues with Oakland, but their lease ends after the end of the 2010 season. That would appear to pave the way for the Raiders to leave, but there aren’t that many cities capable of building a NFL-sized stadium, and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue holds the keys to the Los Angeles market, where Al Davis is most interested in relocating.

The A’s, who had felt neglected because of the way the Coliseum was renovated, aren’t getting too warm fuzzies from Oakland in their desire to build a ballpark village. Their final year in Oakland, if they don’t leave early or extend the lease, will be 2010.

Today an article in the Trib discusses how the Bay Area could attract a Super Bowl. The 49ers have an ambitious multi-use development plan in the works with housing giant Lennar and the city of San Francisco. Despite the strained relationship between the Raiders and Oakland/Alameda County, the Raiders came up with a way to keep the 2003 Super Bowl in the Bay Area (where it was originally meant for a revamped Candlestick Park): add 7,500 seats to the Coliseum. That idea fizzled and the 2003 Super Bowl ended up in a more familiar locale, San Diego. The article notes that a Bay Area Super Bowl would be bolstered by a joint 49ers-Raiders effort, but doesn’t elaborate on how the competing interests (49ers vs. Raiders, SF vs. Oakland) could make it work.

The Raiders haven’t released any plans for a another Coliseum redo, but it stands to reason that with the newly friendly relationship they have with Oakland, along with the team’s inability to relocate as easily as they did eleven years ago, they could try to work a deal to “complete” the renovation in Oakland. The Raiders could take advantage of the NFL’s G3 loan program, which provides $150 million for new construction or expansion. Myriad problems await, including financing the rest of it ($150 million won’t cover it all) and getting pols to sign off on the deal. The sales pitch would involve getting the Super Bowl in Oakland (and its oft-overstated positive economic impact) sometime in the next 20 years, a carrot that has been the main selling point in getting new stadia built or upgraded (San Diego, Dallas, Kansas City).

Should the Raiders and Oakland venture down this path, the A’s would once again be on the outside looking in. For how would Oakland and Alameda County be able to invest in multiple new facilities again? Therein lies the rub. Oakland’s going to be forced to decide who it wants to support. And I doubt that anyone’s looking forward to making that decision.

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