Raiders owner fielded a series of questions from reporters about the Coliseum and new stadium situations yesterday, which led to some revealing answers. Tim Kawakami transcribed the interview and put it into a blog post.
-Q: Would “outs” for both sides–for the Coliseum City/Raiders side and for the A’s side–if either gets another deal… would that make it better?
-DAVIS: No. The A’s lease is up in 2015. If we could come to a deal with Colony Capital to build a football stadium there, we would like to be able to tear that Oakland Coliseum down the minute the 2015 baseball season’s over.
And that would get us into a stadium by 2019, I believe. On that site.
There are a couple of huge takeaways from Davis’s comments. First is that if Coliseum City comes together, he really wants the old stadium to come down. ASAP. For him that’s immediately when the A’s season ends. Nevermind that the A’s lease runs through December, point made. The other is that Davis’s stance clearly explains why he didn’t sign an extension past 2014. He has no intention of having the Raiders play at the Coliseum past this season (the team has an option on the 2015 season).
Davis may not have the best poker hand right now, but he is playing it to its fullest. He acknowledged the $500 million funding gap, which has no clear solution at the moment. He recognized that if the A’s were to be in on Coliseum City, their piece makes his smaller because they’d want to develop on their own terms. And he stated his preference for the Raiders being at the Coliseum complex alone, all while not describing the predicament as Raiders vs. A’s. He knows that the other players have crappy hands too, and is willing to bluff his way to getting what he wants. That hand becomes substantially weaker once Davis signs an extension, defeating the purpose of declaring his 2014 deadline. So chances are, he won’t sign one.
There are a couple other things to keep in mind when discussing Davis’s M.O. Remember that the first thing that opens LA or some other market to Davis is him proving that he tried on a local stadium deal for at least a year. He’s doing that, though in a somewhat unorthodox manner. The less important bottom line matter is that per the terms of the short-term Coliseum lease, if Davis continues to be engaged in Coliseum City talks, he gets the Raiders’ Alameda headquarters rent-free. Funny thing about that – if that $500k was coming in, the JPA could afford to pay off Forest City, extricate them from the plan, and move forward.
As for the A’s, well, you have the 10-year extension being tabled because it would jeopardize the relationship with the Raiders and present a bad deal to taxpayers. Or at least that’s what the talking points say. I wonder if the people behind those talking points are going to address Davis’s desire to evict the A’s after 2015. Wait, no need, right? Howard Terminal will surely be ready by 2016. If you believe that, I also have a bridge to sell you. Or maybe a stupid single-word messaging app.