In a fairly lengthy interview with ESPN’s John Clayton yesterday, Raiders owner Mark Davis held court on his team’s stadium issues. While much of it was a rehash for those who have been following this saga intensely, it was good for casual fans and observers to get even the tiniest bit clarity. In any case, the Raiders saw fit to republish it on their own website so it must have the boss’s approval.
What caught my attention was a change in how he saw the Coliseum being developed. While continuing to call for the Coliseum’s demolition, Davis dreamed out loud of a dual-stadium concept in the old venue’s place (emphasis mine).
One of the challenges we have with that is that we share the stadium with the Oakland A’s. The Oakland A’s have a 10-year lease to remain in the Coliseum. One of the plans that they’re talking about is, is us building the stadium in the corner of a parking lot and then once our new stadium is built, then they would rip down the stadium and build the new one for the A’s and build housing and all of that stuff. That just isn’t a situation that I want to get us into. I would like for, if possible, the Raiders and the A’s to stay on that site and that the Raiders and A’s vacate the Coliseum for the next two or three years. We build a brand new football stadium and a brand new baseball stadium on the site and then we’d come back and begin playing in two brand new stadiums without construction going on around us, in brand new stadiums.
The desire to avoid construction zone headaches remains steady for Davis. Plus in this concept Davis would preserve surface parking, a goal shared by A’s owner Lew Wolff. Wolff doesn’t think the place can properly support more than one stadium project, so how could something like this be done? It’s nothing like Coliseum City, which has planned phases. Both stadia would be done simultaneously, like Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Let’s imagine a timeline for Davis, assuming no legal, logistical, or financial obstacles (follow me on this).
- End of 2015 – Coliseum City is scrapped. Raiders play their last game at the Coliseum in December. Raiders and A’s hammer out stadium development deals with Oakland/Alameda County. Partial demolition begins (ironically) with the newest part of the Coliseum, Mt. Davis, returning the venue to its 1995-96 state – but with the Oakland Hills back in full view. That occurs from November 2015 to March 2016.
- 2016 – A’s play their last season in the old Coliseum in reduced facility. A’s lease is revised (with no penalty to anyone) to reflect this. Raiders and A’s finalize their financing plans for their respective venues.
- November 2016 – Demolition of rest of the Coliseum begins, which should take 6 months to complete including grading for new venues (use drawn out Candlestick Park demolition for reference).
- April 2017 – Construction starts on both stadia, with a planned completion of Spring 2019 for the A’s, Summer/Fall 2019 for the Raiders. Both teams use smaller footprint, simpler plans and Levi’s Stadium-style incentive/penalty system to execute those accelerated schedules (24 months for A’s, 28 months for Raiders).
- 2018-2019 – Warriors vacate Oracle/Coliseum Arena for San Francisco. Decision is made on whether to keep arena or demolish it to make way for other development.
- April 2019 – A’s ballpark opens
- August 2019 – Raiders stadium opens
The finished product(s) would look like this:
The Raiders would have to play at a temporary facility for three seasons, the A’s for two. AT&T Park would have to be a considered a frontrunner for both, oddly enough. Memorial Stadium remains off limits to the Raiders thanks to a legal agreement between UC and the City of Berkeley, and Stanford Stadium is a nonstarter for both the university and City of Palo Alto. Davis doesn’t want to play at Levi’s Stadium for his stated reasons, though it must also have something to do with the 49ers’ desire to have a tenant for at least a decade in order to pay for the second home team locker room.
That brings me to the real problem in all of this, the financing. Tallying up all of the associated costs, we come to:
- $900+ million – Raiders
- $600+ million – A’s
- $100 million – Remaining Coliseum debt including interest
- $65 million – Remaining Arena debt in 2018
Final total, not including the planned work on the Coliseum transit hub, is $1.665 Billion. Obviously, much of that would be covered by the teams, the NFL, and perhaps third parties, but the gap for the Raiders remains, and the need to retire the legacy debt from project sources without hitting either Oakland’s or Alameda County’s general funds means that the public sector would have to give up something. For now it’s unclear what that is since the Coliseum’s land is not going to be that public contribution.
Price tag aside it’s a tantalizing vision for fans, and one that runs counter to planning and growth goals for Oakland and Alameda County. From a broad perspective, the public sector wants housing of different kinds and price ranges to ease the current crunch. Pols may see this as nothing more than doubling down on the stadium deals of 20 years ago, which brought only fiscal pain and little real security with regards to the teams staying in Oakland. The people who might like it the most are workers at the Coliseum complex and businesses west of the Nimitz who thought their livelihoods were being threatened by Oakland’s sweeping zoning change proposals. As for East Oakland residents, well, how much has this hulking pro sports complex improved their lives in nearly 50 years?