What does Mark Davis really want?

With this year’s NFL Draft firmly in the rearview mirror, the time has come for Mark Davis to once again talk about the urgency required to get a new stadium for the Raiders built. It’s becoming an awfully familiar refrain, one we’ll hear again every few weeks throughout the summer and as the football season starts. According to NFL.com’s Mike Coppinger, Davis says that the Raiders are in the 11th hour, a rather dire place indeed if you believe such metaphors.

“I would probably say (negotiations are in) the 11th hour,” Davis said. “It’s always the 11th hour because we’ve been waiting a long time, been waiting a long time on this project. If it doesn’t happen, then we have to start looking at the other options. … We want to stay in Oakland. We want to get something done.”

Updated 5/29 – The story originally came from Zennie Abraham’s 5/20 post, in which he spoke to Mark Davis and Raiders finance officer Marc Badain at the owners meetings.

Oh, so it has always been urgent. Okay.

Davis even pumped up his own position by claiming that he has more money to throw at the project:

$400 million could be very useful. It could also be illusory. There’s no indication of whether that pledge includes money from the NFL’s G4 program or strictly from the team. Either way, the project is still short at least $500 million based on new stadium cost estimates. BayIG has its estimates, AECOM has different estimates. The EIR is due in a few weeks, and BayIG is expected to deliver a complete market and revenue study in the near future. Let’s be clear on one thing, however – $400 million is no more than a nice gesture at this point.

And there’s something odd about how Davis has gone about this stadium quest. While he has occasionally asked about land in Concord and Dublin, he has publicly stayed “loyal” to Oakland. Oakland and the JPA have reciprocated that commitment, at least to the point of getting Coliseum City studied. Yet there’s a strange omission from Davis’s efforts, and it’s a pretty glaring one once you think about it.

Davis has never proposed his own stadium plan.

Not in Oakland or anywhere else in the East Bay. Not in LA either. Instead, Davis has been content to allow others to formulate their own proposals, which he could support from a distance. As BayIG asks for information, Davis directs the front office to provide it. Then Davis will talk about the progress of the project, which has for some time now looked stunted. When the Coliseum City concept was in its infancy, there were rumblings that the Raiders and the NFL were at odds with the JPA regarding the scope of the project. The Raiders wanted an smaller, open air stadium on the site of the current Coliseum, not the big retractable dome that Mayor Jean Quan advocated. Sometime in the last year, the Raiders stopped (or did they even start?) fighting for their scaled down stadium plan.

Let’s look at the history of local stadium plans, shall we?

  • Giants – Led stadium effort in late 90’s, opened new downtown SF ballpark in 2000
  • 49ers – Left SF for Santa Clara, lobbied hard for new stadium, opening in 2014
  • Warriors – Suffered setback with waterfront arena, then secured expensive land for different site in SF
  • A’s – Led effort in Fremont which died in 2009, then took up mantle for San Jose
  • Sharks – Weren’t even around when San Jose arena was first being considered, then used own money to get arena up to proper spec
  • Raiders – ???

Davis showed up at a petition effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, which makes for good optics among fans. His lack of willingness to get his hands dirty for an Oakland stadium is simply baffling. No stadium in the modern era gets built without a lot of lobbying, horse trading, and compromise. Davis has shown no sign of being willing to work to get it. His reactions have simply been, Well I’m waiting here and nothing’s getting done. Perhaps the question that should be posed to Davis is, What are you willing to do to keep the Raiders in Oakland? If $400 million isn’t going to cut it, and Davis isn’t going to carry the water for the effort, what are we dealing with here? We have seen the cost estimates spiral upward. Davis could have used that as an opportunity to present his own more feasible, more cost-efficient plan. That hasn’t happened. If I were a Raider fan, that would make me nervous.

44 thoughts on “What does Mark Davis really want?

  1. From what I can see driving down the freeway, the Raiders need a lot of land for their tailgate.

    If I were Mark Davis, I’d want my Dad to give me a football team! That would have helped!

    Fun Fact: The new Niner’s stadium is closer to downtown Oakland than downtown SF.

  2. His lack of initiative towards getting a workable Coliseum deal done leads some to believe that he is really interested in moving the Raiders to LA. In effect, Davis may be expecting the CC stadium plan to fail and thus the NFL will then approve the Raiders to move to LA. What Davis seems to not understand is that the NFL will ultimately make the decision on which team relocates to LA, and it would more than likely not be the Raiders. The NFL sees other teams with more critical stadium issues within their respective markets such as the Rams and Chargers. The NFL sees a brand new state-of-the-art NFL stadium already located within the Raiders’ Bay Area market. Unfortunately for Davis, he wants to believe that Levi’s Stadium doesn’t exist.

  3. The reality of the matter is the NFL cannot stop Mark Davis from moving to LA (remember AL Davis?). However, they can deny him funding. The Rams situation really does not affect the Raiders because the NFL wants an AFC & an NFC in LA. The Chargers situation is different, although from everything I read, they prefer staying put. I could see Davis acting like the “Good Cop” as regards to staying in Oakland, so Season Tickets can be sold, meanwhile plans could be afoot to sell and move the team to LA. Question: Does anyone think the NFL would be so elated to get the Davis Family out of the League, they would help pay for funding?

  4. Davis is looking for an excuse to say he was forced to leave Oakland to get a stadium. Oakland isn’t feasible unless he sells in part or in full to someone who will help him finance a stadium in Oakland because the City already carries considerable debt service from Mt. Davis and the Arena. He will say well Minnesota, Buffalo (really NYS), Santa Clara and Atlanta all ponied to get a stadium built and Oakland never came to the table. This I think has always been his long-game. I think its either LA or Santa Clara for him because he doesn’t want to rebuild the Coliseum which from ML’s article on the Orange Bowl shows could be feasible. But if he doesn’t have a plan he is gonna have to sell part to build or be a tenant in someone else’s home.

    Hate Fisher and Wolff all you want for considering SJ and Fremont, at least they actually had plans they tried to sell.

  5. Sounds like a plea for Oakland to chip in several hundred million dollars for his stadium, which is not going to happen.

  6. Oakland needs to decide if its the Raiders or A’s they will focus on or risk losing both—amazing that they can’t even make this type of decision–btw ML–should add Earthquakes to your list of stadiums with efforts for new stadium led by the LW/son

  7. re: San Jose arena. The city looks like a bunch of absolute geniuses now, getting a still-state-of-the-art arena for $165 million and getting the Sharks to kick in $35 million. What will the new Warriors arena cost? $500 million?

  8. re: Oakland needs to decide if its the Raiders or A’s they will focus on or risk losing both

    …As I’ve said. Oakland is NOT going to concede loss of any of its teams. The franchises and leagues will have to do that. Oakland will be like the knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, still fighting on despite the loss of both arms and legs at the hands of King Arthur.

  9. I am a Raiders fan, and I am not too nervous.

    Given the apparent unwillingness of the Davis family to sell its controlling stake in the team, a move to L.A. seems unlikely if you believe all the rumblings that the NFL would not allow a Davis-controlled Raiders franchise back into the L.A. market.

    Even if the NFL would relent, I think Davis knows that a new stadium in L.A. would be cost prohibitive. Oakland seems willing to part with some public money for a new stadium, even if it for a relatively small percentage of the project. A move to L.A. may cost twice as much as a new venue in Oakland after everything is tallied up.

  10. I am not sure it really matters if Davis says that they’re in the “11th hour”. If he doesn’t want to sell his controlling interest, he can’t go to LA. Unless there is another city willing to put up public money I don’t know where he goes. The A’s and Raiders are both stuck with each other at the coliseum. I think Lew is waiting for the Raiders to leave, but I really don’t see an end game for the raiders. In the end Davis will sign another lease extension because he has no options. I continue to say that Oakland should hitch their wagon to the A’s. Give some of the land to Lew to let him develop and build a stadium. One thing is for sure. In the bay area, the construction industry is booming, and costs are only going up. The Niners built their stadium at the perfect time. The economy stunk, and it still cost 1.3 billion.

  11. re: Oakland seems willing to part with some public money for a new stadium

    When has Oakland seemed willing to part with public money for a stadium? And, of course, whatever it spends on the Raiders, MLB will want as least as much for the A’s. The total amount of taxpayer dollars proposed by Oakland for Raiders stadium construction is $0.00. Oakland is approaching a nightmare pension funding problem – it cannot spend money on stadiums. FWIW, it has stalled on dealing with the pension problem and the chickens are coming home to roost.

  12. In some ways, the Raiders’ non-committal attitude plays to the long term ‘benefit’ of the A’s by slowly (and what I hope is steadily) forcing MLB to recognize the fact that the A’s have no chance of getting anything done in Oakland. My personal preference would be for the Raiders to continue stalling, the A’s to finally get some form of approval for a move to San Jose, and then after that for the Raiders to fail with stadium plans here anyway and go back to Los Angeles. But that’s just me.

  13. Nate Miley was recently quoted as supporting some public financing.
    The thing here is that we are all (STILL) locked in a stalemate. The current paradigm (LW won’t consider Oakland, Davis won’t sell a controlling interest, etc.) will have to be altered in order for the stalemate to wiggle loose.
    It is dangerous to pretend that the teams have no where to go (another part of the paradigm). That could change really fast, and it will eventually.
    If I was Oakland, I’d be telling Mark Davis to pound salt and I’d be pushing Lew Wolff to partner on the coliseum site. It’s not that hard to do… “Lew, here’s your 10 year lease with no strings, now let’s talk about you canceling this lease in 5 years when the new ballpark, and surrounding development, is ready for prime time.”

  14. @Jeff: Except that the A’s get totally screwed under the current CC plan. They are a complete afterthought relative to the Raiders in that development and would effectively be homeless while the first couple phases of the project are under construction. It makes no sense for them to sign on to a plan where they are just getting pulled along for the ride instead of sitting in the driver’s seat. The only feasible way they stay at the Coliseum site is if the Raiders leave and the A’s more or less gain control and primacy over the project. And there’s been no indication that that’s going to happen.

  15. A’s and Raiders aren’t moving anywhere folks. That’s a fact Jack! 3 years from now, this blog will be doing just fine, trust me. lol

  16. @Ivan- I remember those same words from the SF politicians and local media about the ‘9ers. Anyone whose strategy assumes that the teams are trapped and therefore Oakland has to do nothing is mistaken-

  17. I agree with Pudgie, Mark Davis is stuck in mud and unless he wants to sell part of his team he will continue to be stuck in Oakland.

    LA will not work without a 2nd team and selling a decent piece of the team, not to mention the NFL having to approve it when the Chargers and Rams need new stadiums….way too many moving parts.

    Mark Davis is not a businessman, unlike Wolff or even Jed York (who has twice the cojones Davis does). Davis does not understand in business you have to “get after it” and to move a mountain you have to get several people behind you to push it.

    This is what you get when a “spoiled rich kid” is put in power. Jed York has proven he is not like that and earned his respect, York went door to door in Santa Clara to get votes. He went out to major banks to get financing, he did it when everyone (Davis and Oakland included) doubted him.

    If Mark Davis has 400M, he should call Jed York and buy some equity in Levi’s Stadium and use the rest of the money to build a Raiders museum, Raiders statutes, and develop a plan to flip the stadium on game days to reflect the Silver and Black.

    But Davis refuses to use Levi’s even for leverage. So what happens? Oakland sits back and “kicks it”….As why have to do anything when Davis has made it clear he won’t share not only with the 49ers or anyone (Los Angeles)?

  18. Yeah, SMG. That’s exactly what I was saying. Tell Davis to pound salt, build a ballpark district on the ‘ol asphalt playground.

  19. The Raiders can go to LA tomorrow and Goodell can do jack about it.

  20. “”Think Oakland can spend taxpayer money on stadiums? Read this””

    I doubt this was even needed to say “no, they will no longer spend any significant public money on pro sports stadiums”. But after reading that it’s a slam dunk. Whatever ballot initiative could be attempted, whatever politician backs a plan will be confronted with “it will give taxpayer money to billionaire owners while working men and women have their retirement cut, police/firefighters are fired/cut, he city goes bankrupt”. I don’t see that having even a one in a million shot of flying in Oakland. Public money at any significant level for pro sports stadiums is dead as a doornail in Oakland, period (for the foreseeable future).

  21. It appears that Oakland city officials prefer the Raiders over the A’s. The negotiations with the A’s are going poorly – with both sides accusing the other of various lease violations. Also, Oakland wants the A’s commiting to a building a ballpark in Oakland before they agree to a long term lease. This stuff isn’t occurring with the Raiders. Perhaps Oakland is attempting to boot the A’s out of the Coli to please the Raiders.

  22. @ Daniel-If you actually think that Davis could move the Raiders whenever and wherever he wants, you’re sadly mistaken. This isn’t 1982 again, and he has nowhere near the capital to fight it out in court. I need say nothing more than post these articles directly below. Read them, and then tell me that he can pick up and relocate whenever he wants.


    Click to access NFLFranchiseRelocationRules.pdf

  23. I still think that Raider fans need to pay attention to Mark Davis after the Raiders play the Dolphins in London.

  24. Mark Davis isn’t his dad and in this day and age why sue the league to play in the Rose Bowl??

    There isn’t a solid plan in LA period. I believe Stan Kroenke will build at Hollywood park once Missouri fails to come thru…..only option raiders have.

    Share with 49ers or Rams?

  25. What does Mark Davis really want?

    I think Mark Davis would really like to meet Adam Sandler. Hang out for a day, sing some guitar, go to the beach. Do some Adam Sandler stuff.

    He can’t hang out with the fat guy who played him in Tommy Boy because he’s dead.

    Adam Sandler’s ratings are slipping, he might be into it.

  26. Oakland187, I think the links to the articles make a fair point that Davis doesn’t have the ability to just pull the moving vans up and move out of Oakland overnight. However, the links do show a defined path to LA for a franchise that has “business” reasons.
    So, again, while I agree it isn’t just a get up and go, the move is there for Oakland if a majority of owners support the move (certainly a big unknown) and a city in LA ponies up some big money (I think that is doable, I think there will be a few cities extremely eager).
    Yet whether the Raiders target SoCal or Santa Clara for the interim, it simply isn’t going to be Oakland without Oakland ponying up some big $$$, or Oakland finding some group/entity ponying up the money. It simply does not look good for Oakland with the Raiders beyond a few more years.

  27. “only option raiders have.

    Share with 49ers or Rams?”

    @Sid, I agree, although if the Raiders ultimately do move to LA, it will be as the second team to relocate there. If the Raiders choose to move to LA, they will have to decide if they temporarily want to remain at the Coliseum, or to make a short-term move to Santa Clara.

  28. It certainly does seem odd that he continues to point the finger at the process going slow, all the while not mentioning what he is doing to improve the process.

    Screw Colony, he should find his own developers and financiers to build a stadium.

    Mark should be the Quarterback on this, not the water boy.

    Why rely on a broke city municipality to decide where your team will play. The city already said he can build on the parking lot all he wants. The EIR is coming out in the coming months, once that happens all cards are on the table-no more excuses.

    Mark should call Lew and say ” Let’s make a deal “.

  29. Any developer who agrees to build a stadium at Coliseum City is going to want the development rights, all the stadium revenue streams and a big chunk of ownership of the team. Any wonder nothing is getting done? (Oakland’s contribution to stadium construction remains fixed at $0.00.)

  30. @ pjk

    Unlike you, I don’t believe any city should pitch in to billionaires. The city should offer a land deal, that’s it.

    You and I have argued this before. I know your position. Moving on . . . .

  31. FWIW, as I’ve said, the “Let the billionaire owners pay for their own stadium!” mantra only works in markets where franchises are extremely profitable and a new stadium is worth the franchise owner’s investment. This rules out Oakland, where the A’s have abysmal attendance, poor corporate backing and are heavily subsidized and where the Raiders are the least-valued and I believe lowest-revenue team in the NFL. What’s the incentive for an owner to invest in Oakland under these conditions?

  32. @Oaktown Raider 187

    Yes, the NFL has rules regarding franchise relocation, as they did in 1982. In 1982, Al Davis asserted that the NFLs’ rules were not enforceable against him under the antitrust laws, and won that argument. The law or the facts may be different now, but neither your post nor the included links explains what the differences might be or establishes that “this isn’t 1982 again” or that the Raiders cannot pick up and leave whenever they want.

    The assertion that the Raiders don’t have money for a lawsuit is absurd. A single NFL player can cost more than a lawsuit; any team in the NFL can afford to litigate where they perceive a need.

    The real issue is that in 2014 there’s no reason to move to LA without a new stadium, and that won’t happen without the NFL’s help. So economic factors may keep the Raiders in place for now, regardless of whether the NFL’s relocation rules are enforceable.

  33. @bartleby- Your logic is sound on the rules of moving. If the Raiders want to go play in the Rose Bowl then the NFL cannot really stop them.

    But is that really worth it? The fact is it is not unless a new stadium has a shovel in the ground.

    LA has so many moving parts a dumbass like Mark Davis could never pull it off. 400M gets you nowhere for a new LA stadium.

    Davis needs a 2nd team to pitch in another 400M plus 400M from the NFL now you can start talking turkey.

    49ers succeeded because they have one of the wealthiest fan bases in the NFL hence all the suites, club seats, and SBLs are all gone…..Including a SBL by yours truly.

    Raiders and Oakland were dumb to doubt Jed York. Now they have direct competition 35 miles away when logic should dictate 1 stadium for 2 teams like NY.

    Davis will rot at the Coliseum for years to come. He does not understand what it takes to get a stadium up. He should call Jed York for advice…

  34. Fact of the matter is that this is the one area where Mark Davis IS like his father. He wants a municipality or public/private sector to handle all of the heavy lifting, as if he’s a king just sitting on his throne, with everyone satisfying his every needs. While I honestly believe there’s no way the Raiders end up in L.A. again (unless Davis sells the team outright or is willing to be the 2nd team in the SoCal market in 3-5 years time–there are just far too many obstacles making this move seem improbable for a team with an ownership structure set up as it currently is). Every scenario that I’ve seen over the past few years in relation to the Raiders and the SoCal market seem completely non-viable in my eyes. I honestly believe that Davis knows this, and that’s why he throws his little fits of frustration in the public every so often. His eggs are all in Oakland’s basket, and his leverage is minimal at best. And then you have the Oakland politicos, who we all know are pretty incompetent most of the time. Not the best of combinations.

  35. By far the best, least costly, and easiest solution is for the Raider to play at Levi. Davis could “invest” and become a co-owner and make the decorations “flippable”. It’s going to be a state of the art stadium that will only host 8+ games a year (plus concerts and other events). It would be a minimal investment for Davis, would help the 49er’s debt service, and open up the Coliseum for Wolff to develop. It’s such a complete no-brainer.

    But Davis’ own stupidity and ego is preventing him from doing it.

  36. I for one think that Levi option has sailed- why would the ‘9ers want the Raiders there? They have already pretty much tapped the financial resources of the valley corporations- and made it their own. They do t need the Raiders- they are set

  37. I for one think that Levi option has sailed- why would the ‘9ers want the Raiders there? They have already pretty much tapped the financial resources of the valley corporations- and made it their own. They don’ t need the Raiders- they are set

  38. The 49ers have to take the Raiders in because to not do so would be straight stupidity as its “free money”.

    The stadium was built for 2 teams, all signage can be flipped and there are 2 home team locker rooms.

    All Mark Davis has to do is sign a lease, invest into building a Raiders store and museum (there is plenty of room to do both at Levi’s) and all the costs for flipping the stadium back and forth…..This model has been proven in New York.

    But as jeff-athletic put it “But Davis’ own stupidity and ego is preventing him from doing it.”

  39. Let’s say for the sake of argument the Rams & Charges beat the Raiders to the LA market….and the city of Oakland will not help Davis with $$$ for a new stadium….then what?

    Do they move to Levi Stadium? Move to Sacramento, San Antonio or Salt Lake City? The team gets sold? Would Oakland then have leverage to force Davis into a cheaper “remodel” alternative at the O.co in order to keep them in Oakland?

    I know this scenario has a one in a million chance in happening….but with the Raiders anything is possible.

  40. The Raiders have no chance of playing in Levi as the ‘home’ team. Just accept it. And the New York model is garbage. Despite being a new stadium, it is a miserable and sterile experience. Two-team stadiums are inherently compromises, even if both teams play the same sport.

  41. Silver and Black, I see that happening before anything else.

  42. Shocking that this guy hasn’t been able to muster the leadership and financial savvy to propose a legitimate plan for new stadium, isn’t it?

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