The Raiders stadium drama heated up when it was recently reported that Raiders and the entities behind the Coliseum City plan were working to close a deal to demolish the O.co Coliseum next year and replace it with a new stadium by 2018 as the centerpiece of the Coliseum City development project. Reports indicated that the plan came as a shock to the Coliseum Joint Powers Commission and the Oakland A’s, who have come to an agreement on a 10 year lease in the aging stadium. While the Oakland City Council had instructed its representatives on the Joint Commission to vote against the lease, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has come out publicly in favor of a lease extension, despite the fact that this would seem on its surface to kill or at least dramatically delay the Coliseum City development plan that the city has been actively pursuing for years.
Quan, at least publicly, believes that Oakland can keep both the Raiders and A’s, and that both will have new homes in Oakland in the foreseeable future. The Raiders, who have been working actively with the Capital City development team, want their new stadium sooner rather than later, while the A’s are apparently willing to wait. Should the City approve the A’s Coliseum lease, the A’s would need two years notice before the Coliseum is demolished, meaning that demolition could not occur until the fall of 2016 at the earliest – more than a year later than the plan favored by the Raiders. Should the lease not be approved, the A’s may make good on plans to leave Oakland and head to San Jose, or they could choose to work with the Coliseum City developers for a long-range solution in Oakland. What is abundantly clear is that if the Raiders do not have the promise of a new stadium in Oakland by the end of the 2014 season, they will leave.
Reports coming out of the respective camps must also all be viewed through the lens of the political situation in Oakland. In an election year, politicians like Quan and members of the City Council are all trying to keep their jobs, and being willing to part with either of Oakland’s two remaining pro teams is not a popular political position in Oakland. Colony Capital and other backers of the Coliseum City project stand to gain the most financially if the plans for the development go forward, and may be the only entity in play with the type of money necessary to keep either team, or both. The County Board of Supervisors, who are also part of the Joint Powers Commission, clearly prefer to close the deal with the A’s and pay off the current debt on the Coliseum before any new development can go forward.
Suffice it to say that if and when the City Council votes on this lease will be a key point in the ongoing Raiders stadium saga. Should the City Council approve the lease, it could very well could cause Raiders owner Mark Davis to further pursue his options elsewhere. But should they not approve the lease, there are still no guarantees, and we may not know anything for certain until after the 2014 season is played and the 2014 elections have been decided.