Despite being one of the most infamous NFL stadiums that holds one of the league’s most passionate fanbase, there is no argument that the Oakland (O.co) Coliseum is on its last legs.
There is just one problem: California is notorious for dragging out the stadium process and the San Francisco 49ers stadium is just getting done right now across the Bay, meaning that Mark Davis wanting $300 million of taxpayer money might be a dragging point.
The Oakland Tribune reported that the Raiders want a 50,000-seat stadium to give the franchise a much needed new home after years in playing in an outdated facility. The stadium would be the smallest in the NFL, but would only cost $800 million. In contrast the 49ers’ new stadium, set to open next season, is slated to have a $1.3 billion pricetag, so the Raiders have done the math and have been fairly operating on a bargain budget.
Davis and the Raiders are willing to post $300 million of that $800 million pricetag on the Coliseum 2.0 with the NFL’s stadium loan program covering another $200 million leaving us with that $300 million amount.
That amount has the City of Oakland and its sports franchises playing hardball. With the Raiders and Athletics both wanting a new building and the Warriors having already jumped the Bridge to San Francisco, it is clear that if the city wants to keep its teams it is going to have to chip in some public funds to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
The pressing question that remains is will they?
Municipal and state governments know that they are being hustled by the NFL (and to be fair, all sports leagues) when it comes to public funding of new stadiums. Yes, the City of Oakland is going to profit off of the 50, 000 people who come to the stadium eight Sundays a year, but the NFL holds 30 of the richest 50 sports franchises in the world including Oakland and can afford the bill, which is the problem.
The City of Oakland knows it shouldn’t have to pay $300 million for a new stadium and they know that the taxpayers and voters that aren’t Oakland Raiders fans also know that. At the same time Mark Davis isn’t going to pay $500 million of the Raiders money when there are cities that will be more than welcome to find the money (or already have the building) for the Raiders.
You can’t build a $500 million NFL stadium and the Raiders and Mark Davis are already being flexible with a 50, 000 seat $800 million stadium that is a fraction of the cost of most new NFL stadiums. Combine that with the fact that raw sewage came up so quickly in the stadium last month that the A’s were forced out of their dressing room and you quickly emphasize with the situation of Mark Davis.
Oakland deserves better, yes asking taxpayers is wrong and I personally don’t agree with the logic of making non-sports fans foot the bill for a stadium any more than I would a non-art fan foot the bill for a new city funded art gallery, but the Davis family brought the Raiders back to Oakland in 1993 and have now rebuilt the tradition of Raiders football in Oakland for 20 years. The fact that the sides involved can’t get a deal done is frankly disappointing because Oakland has lost the Raiders once and could be willing to let it happen again.
The fact that there is now a plan, a capacity number and a pricetag on a potential Raiders home is promising. Still $300 million of unaccounted money looms in the balance, pocket change considering the Raiders have already been modest in building the smallest venue in the NFL to save money. An end to this saga seems close, but the words of Mark Davis put the writing fully on the wall:
“If we can’t get something done, I’ve got to do what’s best for the team” – Mark Davis on #Raiders future in Oakland.
— Raiders Beat (@RaidersBeat) July 16, 2013
If the City of Oakland and Mark Davis can’t come to a deal eventually, we could be dealing with the sad reality of a second exodus of Oakland by the Raiders. Let’s hope that common sense prevails on all sides and that never has to happen.