Davis, Raiders execs meet with San Antonio representatives in Alameda

Mark Davis is probably having a little more fun than Raiders fans these days, because even though their team started out the season 0-8 with 0-16 coming at them fast, at least Davis has a diversion. Davis took another trip to London a few weeks ago, he meets with LA boosters trying the lure the team back down near where he lives, he’s in the Bay Area for home games, and he met today with Henry Cisneros and his team from the Alamo city. Naturally, it’s all a matter of exchanging expensive lunch checks, so Davis is having a grand time while everyone else tries to get inside his head.

Prior to today’s meeting, a unnamed Raiders source indicated that the Alamodome, the last on-spec stadium in America, was considered “NFL-ready.” Clearly that means ready as an interim venue while a new one is built, which is sad considering that the Dome is barely 20 years old. Then again, the Georgia Dome is of similar vintage and that venue is considered outdated by the Falcons, so maybe it’s not that surprising after all.

The Alamodome was borne of a strategic mistake. The Spurs’ old home, the HemisFair Arena, had already been expanded once since its ABA days (by literally raising the roof). The time had come for a brand new arena. Instead of a purpose-built basketball venue, Cisneros led the charge to build a new domed stadium, which could have attracted an NFL team at some point. In the meantime, San Antonio became home to a new CFL expansion franchise during that league’s ill-fated venture in ‘Murica. When the CFL’s stateside project went bust the Alamodome was left without a tenant. A half-house configuration housed the Spurs in a manner that made a 20,000-strong crowd look sparse. The Pistons also did this at the Silverdome until they built their own arena. Eventually Spurs owner Peter Holt prevailed upon city fathers to build AT&T Center on the east side of town, leaving the Alamodome with only one tenant, a minor league football team. A few years ago, the University of Texas-San Antonio started up a new football program, so they moved in to the Dome. The only other permanent tenants is the Alamo Bowl.

Debates about the NFL-worthiness of the San Antonio market generally go nowhere. Yes, it would be one of the smallest markets in the NFL if the Raiders moved there. True, it lacks corporate strength. San Antonio is the eighth-largest city in the nation, but as a fast-growing new city it lacks the distinction of its biggest Texas rivals, let alone other major markets. Their one pro franchise, the Spurs, are the NBA’s shining example of how to run a team on a limited budget. In the market’s favor, it does know how to put on NCAA events with aplomb, and the Alamodome is perhaps the best temporary venue in the country. Good enough to be a real NFL market? Maybe, maybe not. Good enough to be a stalking horse? Definitely.

All Davis said after the meeting was:

Henry Cisneros said their job was to present San Antonio’s assets in strongest light and they did that.

In the normal stadium extortion game, this is when the home city, Oakland, would start throwing public funds at Davis. Since Oakland is in no position to do that, Davis has to try a different tack. Davis’s actions make sense when you understand that he’s trying to play three markets off each other to get the best deal possible – one that allows him to divest as little of the team and his own resources as he can stomach.

What can Oakland provide, given the weird state Coliseum City is in? The only thing nearly as precious as money… time. When Davis talked publicly about demolishing the Coliseum ASAP, he wasn’t joking. He’d like to get the Raiders into a new stadium ASAP. The easiest and quickest way is not to build a stadium alongside the existing Coliseum, but rather to demolish the old one and build on top of the old footprint. Doing so would eliminate the need to reroute power transmission lines and other utilities. More important, no EIR would be needed. When it comes to the rest of the project whether a new venue such as a ballpark or ancillary development, those phases would need an EIR. Fred Kephart is projecting a 2019 opening for a Coliseum City stadium. Davis surely wants a stadium by 2018 or even 2017 if it can be managed. That can’t happen with Coliseum City’s current projected timeline. It’s unclear if an LA stadium can be delivered by 2019. San Antonio? Texas builds stadia faster than California, that’s certain.

What about the A’s new lease, you ask? Aren’t they locked in until 2018? Nope. There’s language that accommodates the possibility of the Raiders pushing the A’s out of the Coliseum.

7.2.2. By Licensor. Licensee acknowledges that a plan may develop for construction of a new football stadium for the Oakland Raiders. Licensor shall keep Licensee reasonably informed of any information related thereto. If Licensor presents Licensee with a Raiders Construction Plan, Licensor and Licensee shall, for a period of thirty (30) days thereafter, negotiate in good faith for an amendment to this License that will account for the financial, operational and other consequences that Licensee would suffer from the construction and operation of such planned football stadium. Such negotiations shall not be necessary if the Raiders Construction Plan includes substantial demolition of the Stadium. If such good faith negotiations are unsuccessful or unnecessary, Licensor may terminate this License upon written notice of intent to terminate to Licensee, such termination to take effect sixty (60) days after the conclusion of the second (2d) Baseball Season that commences after such notice.

44.32. “Raiders Construction Plan” means a bona fide plan for construction of a new football stadium for the Oakland Raiders on current Complex property, adjacent to the current Complex property, or otherwise located sufficiently near to the Stadium such that it will materially impact Licensee’s operations, which bona fide plan must include, as pertains to such stadium project, a fully executed development agreement with a third-party developer and the Licensor for development of a new Raiders stadium, supported by a non-refundable deposit from the developer and received by the Licensor of at least Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00).

The A’s are bound to at least 2018 if they choose to leave. Oakland and the JPA are not. Davis’s currency are his 51% stake in the team and the ability to dictate terms. If he can get a year ahead of projected opening dates, he could end up +$50 million in revenue just for that one year compared to staying at the Coliseum. The city that can deliver the earliest start date will definitely influence his thinking to some degree. No one in the media is talking about time, yet it’s every bit as important as site or financing model, at least in the near term.

P.S. – Davis is also playing a game among the NFL owners. Cowboys owner is on the NFL stadium committee, while Texans owner Bob McNair is on the league’s finance committee. Both owners and their respective committees will have a lot to say about potential relocations before any deals are signed. Davis could be sending a message to the Texas owners to play ball with him, or else face a San Antonio threat. It sounds like a terrible hand to play, but Davis doesn’t have much else with football’s Lodge. If he can influence them and other owners that the Raiders should be first banana in LA (despite various misgivings) it’s a hand well-played. Davis doesn’t have much to lose, plus he could help his friend Cisneros prove San Antonio’s viability. If you’re Cisneros, you don’t opportunities like this all the time, so you might as well give it a shot.

42 thoughts on “Davis, Raiders execs meet with San Antonio representatives in Alameda

  1. Does SA know they are being used? oh, Jerry Jones will block the move when the time comes for a vote. Jones has not voiced his opinion loudly yet but you can bet he will tell Davis to suck it.

    • Of course. They also know they’re on the outside looking in. I added a postscript at the end of the article explaining motivations.

    • I have no doubt this is, ideally anyway, a bluff for Davis to get something in Oakland, and that failing that, he’d like to go to LA. But if those options fail, in a couple of months he’s going to be faced with a serious decision: continue with the status quo or take a free NFL-ready stadium in a football-crazy market that will build him a new place within 5 years. IF he’d rather have a free stadium (and that’s a big if) than keep kicking the can down the road, there’s nothing Jones or McNair can do to stop it (with the exception of back-channel horse trading like ML said to try to steer him to LA). He wouldn’t be looking for any extra league money that could be held over his head. And I don’t really see how he can go to LA anyway; he doesn’t have Kroenke money that makes doing his own project feasible and doesn’t have the equity in the team to be able to sell more than about a 25% stake to raise quick cash. The only way I could see it work is if somebody else gets there first and he can tag along as a tenant, similar to the deal he could have at Levi’s tomorrow. But we’ll see.

  2. No one can get in Davis’s head but I am sure he wants to be in Oak. So much so that he has put together his own investment team to figure it out. Oh, he hasn’t done that you say. That’s right, Davis will go where he gets the best terms. I do think Davis would like to be in Oak, if the mayor told him all he had to do was bring his gold shovel to the ground-breaking because they figured everything out for him. As an NFL owner I am sure it is very hard for the chargers and raiders to look at all the other teams get free stadiums, so why shouldn’t they try too. Honestly if I was Davis, my first choice would be LA, and my second choice would be to spend $500mil and gut the coliseum and make it New. This saves a ton of money, and the existing areas could be preserved for development. All the while, I think you probably still retain some of the fan base and tailgating that seems to be missing from Levis, because they have changed the fan base that attends the actual games. Let’s face it, the weather for about 5 or 6 games is really nice. Part of the raiders to me seems to be what goes on before the games in the parking lots. If you spend less money on a totally retrofitted coliseum, you retain some of the game day experience. Of course the owners want you to spend money in their fancy new clubs in the new stadium. This is what is happening at Levis. Maybe there is something to be learned from Levis. Too fancy, isn’t better. Unless, your the owner who gets to count the money.

    • @ Jordan

      Your right no one can get inside Davis’ s head, but when you imply, you don’t believe Davis wants to be in Oakland (which could be be true), then you say Davis will take the best terms (which is probably true ), those two thoughts are not necessarily counteracting.
      Davis could want to stay in Oakland, and also want to take the deal with the best terms.

      • My point was, Davis would probably like to be in oakland above all else, but hasn’t done anything to further his cause. Someone, anyone, explain to me one thing Davis has done to try and get a stadium built? The raider fans think he is trying because he says he wants to be in oakland. That’s it. That’s all he done. Davis wants someone to do all the heavy lifting while he keeps controlling interest. Nothing more nothing less. This isn’t hard to figure out. Either someone will make the numbers for coliseum city work, or they won’t. Many have tried and failed, which leads to LA and San Antonio. The only thing we do know, is he hasn’t signed an offer sheet or a lease.

      • Ok, yes I would agree with that.

  3. @ jordan

    But I would certainly agree with you, in the sense that the terms of any deal ( Oakland, LA, San Antonio) are more important to Davis then his desire to stay in Oakland.(if any)

  4. I am curious as to what San Antonio officials have offered the R A I D E R S because I can’t imagine a market as small as San Antonio would have the resources to pay for a $1 billion stadium.

    Even in Arlington, only about 25% of Jerry’s World was paid for by the public sector.

  5. We could still very likely continue to have a cloudy idea about the Raiders’ future in Oakland once the ninety day extended negotiating time period ends. That said, a no go at CC for the Raiders still does not necessarily rule out a possible future new/rebuilt stadium on the Coliseum site. While I do believe that Mark Davis would very much want a front row seat for LA, if a CC deal fails to get done, the NFL likely does not want the Raiders to get first crack at LA, either. As for San Antonio, I believe that Mark Davis is using that locale as a bargaining chip and negotiating ploy with the NFL to get his Raiders a new stadium at either Oakland or LA. As for the A’s, they had recently signed a ten year lease extension at the Coliseum, which is a result of their inability to get a new Bay Area ballpark deal done. With that same problem facing the Raiders, I could see Mark Davis signing a similar short-term stadium deal at the Coliseum. I do though believe, in the not too distant future, there will be a break in the Bay Area new stadium impasse. IMO, the deal breaker will come from MLB when they finally put and end to their two territory Bay Area market folly.

  6. NFL stadiums can be good investments if done correctly. I feel that both Oakland and San Diego should try to rebuild half the stadium. It would be cheaper..on them. Also I never understood why cold places like Chicago and Green Bay have not went retractable or dome type?

    Either way San Antonio remains option 3 with Oak and PA as 1 & 2. But Raiders need to focus on winning. The Raider nation will support Davis as long as he stays here.

  7. One thing I do not understand that everyone outside the Bay Area is missing is, why would Davis want to go to an LA market and share a stadium? He has already turned down sharing a stadium here in the Bay Area? With a locker room all ready to go with his name on it?

    The so called experts of LA are writing fluff in thinking that Davis will share a stadium with the Rams and Chargers makes no sense.

    • Agree, a shared stadium is a shared stadium, it may not matter to Davis if that’s in the Bay Area with the 49ers, or in LA with an eventually second team.
      Problem is Davis may not have all the resources he needs to get one built, just for his team, and Oakland isn’t in the position to help him out much, so in the end as much as Davis may prefer not to build, with another team in mind, he may have to, unless he can extract enough money from San Antonio which he may be able to do.

    • I always got the sense that the R A I D E R S reluctance to share Levi’s Stadium was not because of a philosophical opposition to sharing a stadium, but because of their distaste for Levi’s Stadium’s location. Remember that they were trying to sell the Yorks on building a shared stadium on the Coliseum site.

  8. It seems obvious the Raiders best play here is to go to the NFL and ask them to help negotiate a deal to play in Santa Clara. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but it’s a helluva lot better than playing in the Rose Bowl, the LA Coliseum, The Alamo Dome, or quite frankly, The Oakland Coliseum. I’m just baffled by why this isnt happening. Its confusing that no one is even considering this move.

    • Announcing that the team is moving and then going to play in Levi’s is a pretty sure-fire way to decimate attendance. They will play in a temporary venue in whatever market they end up in.

  9. It was interesting when Dodger Stadium got mentioned as a temporary venue. The way things are going it seems the likelihood of only 1 team appears to be small. If the Raiders are going to move to LA you would assume a second team must move as well since the chances of the Raiders pulling off a stadium deal on their own is about zero.

    The way the Rose Bowl agreement with Pasadena is written, there is a limit to the number of NFL events that can take place there. A second venue would be needed and with Dodger Stadium, despite the poor sight lines (I’m assuming the field will run from home plate towards center field) there are suites and club areas that can provide a decent temporary revenue stream. It’s a source of revenue that is available at the Rose Bowl but not the Memorial Coliseum.

    The level of negotiations to even host teams in LA on a temporary basis (deciding who plays where and how far along plans are for a permanent venue) these negotiations could be long and contentious. If a team or teams were going to be playing in LA in 2015 those talks would probably need to be in an advanced stage by now. Given the talks between the Rams and Missouri officials and the Raiders talks with San Antonio I get the feeling we’re not at that stage yet. Unless the NFL is promoting these talks, orchestrating one of the best smoke and mirror campaigns of all time knowing exactly how everything is going to play out. That seems unlikely.

    At the same time, I could be WAY WAY off about all of this. But we’re only 3 months away from the “relocation window”. And assuming the NFL wants to do things in way that will lead to the smoothest transition possible to a permanent venue in LA, given what we know now, the chances of NFL football in LA in 2015 seem to get smaller by the day.

    2016 however…

  10. If Kroenke builds an NFL stadium in Inglewood – will he share the facility with another team? – if the Rams move to LA – it may not be an option for the Raiders.

  11. Mark Davis is stuck in Oakland unless he moves the team to San Antonio.

    LA is not an option for him period, Rams hold the cards as they have site control in Inglewood. The Chargers have massive sponsorship revenue from the LA/OC market and would pigeonholed in San Diego forever in a dump if the NFL allows the Raiders and Rams back into LA.

    LA has to stay open for the Chargers until their situation in San Diego is resolved. If SD cannot come through then the Chargers will pair up with the Rams.

    Keep in mind I still have doubts Stan Kroenke who grew up in Missouri, went to HS, college and Grad School there rips the hearts out of his fellow Missourians…..Missouri may drop their pants, stay tuned on that one.

    Therefore Mark Davis has 3 options:

    1. Move to San Antonio, not a bad idea if they can raise public money as TV revenue is relative and equally shared despite market size. A hotel or car rental tax or both could work. San Antonio people if they are not unopposed to public $$ for a stadium, this could work.

    2. Rot in Oakland at the current Coliseum, which is the most likely scenario. Unless Davis is willing to raise the money himself and not ask for a handout he is stuck. He wants his own stadium, that is not happening in LA but San Antonio? Perhaps, only with a handout.

    3. Move in with the 49ers in Santa Clara, last ditch as I think Davis would rather rot in the Coli playing on a baseball dirt field half the season. But if SA falls through and he has to share in either LA or the Bay……He has to take the Bay option.

    • He doesn’t “have” to take anything. The Raiders’ value would skyrocket just by moving to LA, even if they were to share a stadium.

    • @Sid: The St. Louis officials view about a new NFL stadium makes sense. Kroenke is extremely wealthy, a multi-billionaire – why the F should st louis taxpayers pay for a new NFL stadium there?

      This might be a ploy Kroenke is using to bolt to LA. Also, MO is a large state, Kroenke may be closer to Kansas City and more of a Chiefs than a Rams fan. The Rams are drawing miserably. Also, negotiations between Kroenke and St. Louis broke off and were nowhere near an agreement. The more one looks into this – the Rams appear to be the most likely candidate for LA. Kroenke is obviously is astute at business, and and one would believe, might be open to leasing to the Raiders. though.

  12. my guess is the PF Changs in Walnut Creek ran out of appletinis if Tommy Boy had free rein!

  13. I think he rots at the coliseum troth.

    San Antonio has too many Cowboys fans, and the Chargers receive 30% of their revenue from the LA Market. Why in the world would the Chargers allow the Raiders to move to LA, if the Chargers would lose money?

    Hey . . . kinda like the Giants not letting the A’s move to San Jose because they would lose money, go figure.

    • The Chargers have no veto ability whatsoever in this situation. They don’t have legal control over the territory like the Giants do with Santa Clara County. The Chargers are a single vote out of 32, and are the only ones that would feel any potential adverse effects from a team or teams ending up in LA. There still exists the possibility that they could negotiate for a larger slice of the relocation fee pie to help fund a new SD stadium. And people inexplicably forget that the Rams, Raiders, and Chargers all coexisted in Southern California for 13 years. And the Chargers coexisted in Southern California with just the Rams for their entire history up to 1995.

      • @SMG – the giants “legal control” over Santa Clara county may be becoming tenuous – MLB is questioning the giants claim that the Giants fanbase will suffer if the A’s move 40 miles further from SF.

      • I don’t care. The FACT remains that as of this moment, the Giants retain legal territorial rights in Santa Clara County. I’m not interested in debating that since it has nothing to do (directly) with the Raiders stadium/relocation saga.

  14. The NFL may be concerned about the Chargers situation, but the Chargers have just as much a right to move to LA as the Raiders do, to suggest that the NFL is so concerned about the Chargers, that they would not allow the Raiders to move to LA, is a bit of over reach (IMHO)
    Davis has bigger problems, then what the Chargers think they own, or control concerning the LA market, in his efforts to get back there. (If that’s what he chooses to do)

  15. The cute haircut can move to LA anytime he wants but he has to sell a big chunk of the team. No freebies anywhere including SA. Even in Oakland, no investors will build a new stadium for them w/o some major concessions from the cute haircut.

    As of today, the cute haircut is not willing to give up control .

  16. There are a lot of deferent factors involved, with each place Davis could go (or stay), but Davis doesn’t have any money, or attest not enough of it.
    In the end he will take the option, which allows him to retain as much control as possible over the team, weather that is in LA, Oakland, or San Antonio, that’s if he can get a new stadium built at all, and still maintain controlling interest over the franchise.

  17. @SMG : yes but the cure haircut has to give up control. No one will let him run the team in LA including the NFL. They are tired of his act and his haircut. Maybe his mom who is not willing to give up control , we don’t know.

    • They should give Larry Ellison a call.

    • @ daniel
      Good point, and yet another factor. If the NFL really doesn’t want Davis in LA, and I think we can all agree , that could be the case, and while they can’t technically keep him out, he needs to munch help from the league to make a new stadium happened there by himself, so then the question, becomes where can Davis build without giving up controlling interest? That’s when San Antonio becomes a dark horse, because they may come up with the tax money that Oakland can’t, and LA will not.

  18. Or as SMG said, call Larry Ellison.

  19. I swear Oakland, Rhode Island is a dark horse in all of this.

  20. Makes me ill to think the A’s gave away Santa Clara! Why? Three world series later, we complain.

    • At the time, the A’s were so dominant over the giants that the Haas ownership probably overlooked it. The A’s were 3rd in MLB attendence then. and the giants were starting to become a joke and ready to bolt for Tampa Bay. Also, the A’s ( very unlike the giants ownership) desired that the giants remain in the bay area instead of moving to FL

      • And nobody other than A’s fans knows this or cares. That is really frustrating. Hopefully with the Giants massive success this will change.

  21. …why can’t the Haas family come to our aide now? Where are they?

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