Eve of the Reckoning: Schaaf and Goodell exchange letters

They tried. Everyone can say they tried. Well, maybe not Mark Davis, since he hasn’t attended an Oakland stadium development meeting in at least a year. Instead, Davis hired a guy to sit in on the meetings he didn’t want to attend. The NFL can say they tried, since they kept Oakland in the game longer than St. Louis or San Diego, despite Oakland providing the least competitive offer among the three cities. Oakland did try repeatedly, though not hard enough for the NFL. And so we find a city and a fanbase at the precipice of losing its football team yet again, the second time less than forty years.

During a press conference-cum-rally yesterday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf defended the city, while expounding on a letter sent to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. The letter was an effort to convince the league to give one more chance to keep the team in town. The presser was followed by a walk by supporters around the Coliseum complex and a pizza protest outside Raider HQ in Alameda. Sounds like a good day of fan activism, right?

Whatever positive momentum that generated was quickly squashed by the reveal of a reply by Goodell, which made it abundantly clear that Oakland needed to accede to the league’s demands, not vice-versa.

March 24, 2017

Hon. Libby Schaaf
Mayor City of Oakland
1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, 3d Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Dear Mayor Schaaf:

We have had an opportunity to review the material your office released today regarding a stadium project in Oakland for the Raiders.

Before addressing the substance of the material, I want to personally thank you for your leadership and for the time and effort you have devoted to addressing the Raiders’ stadium needs and to keeping Oakland as an NFL community. As you have said more than once, the unquestioned need to replace the current stadium has been hampered by a long record of unrealistic and unkept promises that has complicated your efforts and constrained your options. I know from my own discussions with you, as well as those that have involved our staffs, that you and your team have made every effort to be accessible, creative, and diligent in exploring alternatives. I am grateful to you for doing so, and our member clubs are as well.

I particularly want to thank you for meeting on two occasions with our Finance and Stadium Committees, and much of our executive staff, most recently at our committee meetings on March 6. Those two committees consist of 18 owners and have devoted considerable time and attention to the Raiders. They will be presenting their analysis and recommendations to the full membership next week. Your presentations to those committees, as well as the many discussions between our staffs, have been valuable in giving us an understanding of the opportunity available to the Raiders in Oakland.

The material that we reviewed earlier today confirms certain information that had previously been communicated orally, such as a willingness to bring bank financing to a stadium project, and a proposed valuation of the land at the Coliseum site. It also confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time. In that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable timeframe, and free of major contingencies.

In making this assessment, we recognize and accept the core negotiating principles that you have articulated as being appropriate to your community. A significant number of NFL clubs play in stadiums that have little or no public financial support (including the stadium being built in Los Angeles). We have long accepted your position that no public funds are available for stadium construction in Oakland. We also accept that you do not wish to exercise (and may not be able to exercise) the contractual termination rights related to the A’s.

We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on overall development. However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed, or the specific and contractually-defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties. In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A’s remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed.

We had hoped that the past two years would have allowed both of us to develop a viable project in Oakland. You have provided valuable leadership; for our part, our clubs have repeatedly delayed any relocation by the Raiders and committed an additional $100 million in NFL financial support (for a total of $300 million) to a stadium project in Oakland. We have had regular communications with you, your staff, and more recently with Mr. Lott and his colleagues. And of course, many of our owners have met with you directly, as noted earlier.

Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution. It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.

At our upcoming meeting, the clubs will consider the Raiders’ application to move to Las Vegas. A key part of that discussion will be a thorough review of our collective efforts in Oakland. I will contact you promptly regarding any decisions made next week.

Thank you again for your leadership and for the material of earlier today.



In short: Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Financing and planning issues remain for Las Vegas, even with BofA’s injection of $750 million into the stadium project. I could see the project eventually splitting into two parts: the initial less fully-featured, indoor/domed venue that will be sufficient for the Raiders and UNLV to start, and then some $200 million to pay for Super Bowl-ready improvements. Super Bowls are already assigned through 2021, not including second go-arounds for the new stadia in Arlington, Santa Clara, and Indianapolis, so there’s time to figure it out.

If yesterday’s rally ends up the last hurrah, it would appear truly final. The Coliseum will be demolished within the next decade, whether there’s a tenant at the complex or not. The stance against public money will remain as strong as ever in Oakland. The city would end up competing with San Diego, St. Louis, San Antonio, and perhaps London for new franchises. If we say goodbye to the Raiders, be prepared to say goodbye to the NFL. Forever.

13 thoughts on “Eve of the Reckoning: Schaaf and Goodell exchange letters

  1. How long would a Raiders lease in Las Vegas likely be? 30 years?

  2. If the Raiders leave again, this time they are not coming back. Ever…Marcus Thompson II in the Mercury News baseball season preview wrote some decent stuff today about cities no longer caving to sports franchises, even if means losing their teams like Seattle and San Diego

    • I do not think that cities will stop financing sports facilities. Keep in mind all it takes is one city to build. Look at Arlington Texas and the number of cities looking for MLS franchises.

      • Arlington, Texas and Atlanta, Ga. seem always ready to throw Big $$ at sports teams, in these cases replacing stadiums that are barely 20 years old. In California? Not going to happen.

  3. yeah i don’t see expansion ever happening in the state of california any time soon or if ever for any of the major 4 sports. this is the last state that will ever agree to spend any public money on building a new sports venue.

    especially the nfl where those stadiums will cost the most to build, probably close to 1 billion dollars, and it’d be used the least mount when compared to a baseball park and nba/nhl arena.

    although the kings got a new arena built but that was to keep their team after a long tough battle over the last 5, 6, or 7 or so years which included potential moves to anaheim and seattle during that time frame.

    i can’t envision any city officials wanting to spend hundreds of millions to bring a brand new major sports teams into their communities when that money could be used for public services.

    when its all said and done i think the a’s park wherever they build it, hopefully it’s at either howard terminal or laney, could be the last new sports venue built for a major sport’s team in this state for decades to come.

    • @letsgoas: it could happen if the city can recruit someone like Joe Lacob who can finance his own stadium. The NFL is testing/checking out Mexico as possible city for expansion but why would they do that when you have a proven market in Oakland? the key is get a rich guy who is interested in sports and of course want to spend big time money.

      The only thing I am sure of is LV will fail after a honeymoon period. Davis will lose control when they fail. Staging 50+ sell-out events in LV is not possible. The NFL thinks they can take over the team if and when Davis crashes and burns in LV but it won’t be that easy if the revenues are not there. LV already have smaller revues for concerts, shows etc…..very few entertainers/shows can sell out a big stadium there.

    • @ letsgoas “when its all said and done i think the a’s park wherever they build it, hopefully it’s at either howard terminal or laney, could be the last new sports venue built for a major sport’s team in this state for decades to come.”

      I could still envision a scenario where there’s a privately financed stadium in San Diego. It’s too good a market. The fact that a market with that size and affluence has only one major league sports team makes it a fantastic opportunity for someone. If the Raiders can somehow justify borrowing $1.5 billion for a stadium in Vegas, someone could easily build a nice privately financed open air stadium in San Diego for less than that amount.

      I could even envision a scenario where that team is the Chargers if they flop hard enough in LA. Though, given the amount of the relocation fee they’re paying, they’d have to flop pretty hard unless the NFL were willing to give them some kind of refund.

      As far as the Bay Area goes, if we ever get a second team I think it will be at Levi’s. But personally, if the Raiders leave I don’t care much if we ever get a second team.

  4. ..and to think that all of this was set in motion by the construction of Mount Davis.

    • @sierraspartan All of this was set in motion by the Giants refusal to negotiate on territorial rights. If their management weren’t such douchebags, the A’s would have been in San Jose a decade ago and the Raiders would probably have a new stadium deal in Oakland.

      But the Mount Davis debacle is instructive in the importance of getting it right the first time. Oakland could have built a new football only stadium in 1995 for not much more than they spent on the Coli remodel, in which case we might be talking about a refresh right now rather than a relocation.

      • @Bartleby – Agree that if it weren’t for the Giants the A’s would almost for sure be in San Jose. That would have changed things for the Raiders, but even with the A’s gone I still don’t think Oakland would have or should have put up public funds, meaning Davis would still be in the same situation. If anything that would have just made things worse for Davis as he wouldn’t have had a scapegoat in the A’s.

        It doesn’t matter at this point but I still think what would have been in the best interest of everyone (teams, leagues and the Bay Area) would be for the A’s to be in San Jose and the Raiders and 49ers sharing a stadium at the Coliseum site. The Giants absolutely were the blocker there.

      • @ slacker Although the relative lack of public funds didn’t help matters all indications are it wasn’t the deal breaker. After all, as I’ve pointed out many times on this board, even with the public funds it will cost the Raiders more to move to Vegas than it would have costed to build a privately financed stadium at the Coli site.

        The common theme that keeps coming up was Oakland’s refusal to exercise their right to kick the A’s off the site. To be honest, I was somewhat dumbfounded when I first read the city was taking that position. After all, what was the point of negotiating that termination provision into the lease?

        That meant the current stadium wouldn’t be demolished until 2024. While the Raiders could have worked around that if they were motivated enough, the fact they had a viable option in Las Vegas meant they didn’t have to wait.

        See http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/27/purdy-heres-how-oakland-dropped-the-ball-with-the-raiders-and-what-it-portends-for-the-as/

  5. So we’ve seen a pleading letter from Libby Shaaf to the NFL. How bout one from the Mayor of Santa Clara?

    At the end of the day, there is a viable solution that gets the Raider state of the art stadium in their home market with all the enhanced revenue that suggests that will cost them little or nothing.

    If the NFL is sincere in its protestations of loyalty to home markets. Ha.

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