Say what you will about Tim Kawakami, but he’s the only local columnist talking Raiders’ (and Warriors’) stadium issues. He got a little time in with Raiders owner Mark Davis, who didn’t crack. Davis did, however, reveal some of his motivations for moving the way he has.
Davis continues to not consider Santa Clara as an option after 2013. He said that the team is still only talking to the JPA (Coliseum Authority) about a lease extension, with no actual negotiation yet on a long-term deal – which he prefers. Asked why he prefers a long-term deal, he replied:
(A short-term extension) doesn’t seem to be something that I want to do. I don’t see where that does any good.
If you go back and look at when we did the three-year extension last time, and you look at the quotes from the politicians and the people around, they said, ‘Great, now we’ve got an opportunity to work on a long-term deal with the Raiders.’
If we do it again, then it’s, ‘Great, now we’ve got a long time to work on a long-term deal with the Raiders.’ I think we’ve got to get a little more urgency about it.
Pretty subtle dig at the JPA and Oakland/Alameda County pols there. It’s a good move for Davis strategically, since it will eventually force the JPA to make commitments to a timeline and some minimal level of funding if they really want to keep the Raiders in town. If they’re reticent to make a deal, Davis can turn to Roger Goodell and say, See, I tried. Davis certainly sounds sincere about his stance, though it would be crazy if he didn’t take calls from interested municipalities. He also revealed that he was able to buy out a minority partner, bringing the family’s share of the team to above 50%.
Kawakami brought up Cal’s Memorial Stadium as a temporary venue option. Davis didn’t discount the possibility, but his response showed that he hadn’t considered it much either:
Sure. I mean, if they’d want us. We’ve done it before. There’s some… things about Berkeley that wouldn’t be optimal–the parking and all of that stuff is always tough.
But at the same time, if it’s (there’s a need to play elsewhere for a while) for a new stadium… and we like Berkeley. I think what they’ve done with the new stadium is great.
The issue at Memorial Stadium is a legal one. Neighbors who fought the stadium renovation project hard got a settlement in 2010 that placed a cap on the number of high-capacity events at the stadium and prohibited NFL games as well.
Contrast the Davis’s and Wolff’s positions on lease extensions at the Coliseum. Davis wants a long-term deal that includes a replacement Coliseum with untold amounts of public and private money. Wolff prefers a five-year, short-term extension that allows him to build a privately-funded stadium in San Jose. Neither owner has lashed out at the other or the team, instead calling the shared-stadium situation something their respective teams have to suffer through.
At the moment it doesn’t look like the two teams’ extension will be wrapped up before the end of the baseball season, at the very least. That will only put more pressure on the JPA to make commitments. The timeline will also coincide with a building Oakland mayoral race, which has gone from having few challengers to incumbent Jean Quan to several. It’ll be interesting to see how the sports teams are treated and cited on the campaign trail. Sports may be the one of the highest profile things about the City, but it’s also one of the trickiest to manage.