Mark Davis Discusses Raiders Future with SoCal Reporter


Mar 23, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis attends NFL meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In an interview with and the LA Daily News’ Vincent Bonsignore, Raiders owner Mark Davis answered questions regarding efforts to keep the team in Oakland, as well as the joint stadium project in Carson. Davis gave rather tame, guarded and politically appropriate responses, but some of what was left unsaid by Davis is telling.

When asked if Davis thinks a new stadium in Oakland will happen, he answered in one word: “trying.” When asked if he thought Bay Area financier Floyd Kephart could get the deal done, he answered “I don’t know Floyd that well.” He later made a comment that a deal in Oakland doesn’t need to “entail” Kephart. Meanwhile, Davis seemed to wax slightly more optimistic on the Carson plan, saying “it’s a great project. It’s a good opportunity and a good option” and speaking about his getting to know Chargers owner Dean Spanos.

Word from numerous sources out of the NFL Owner’s Meetings – where the two stadium plans in LA were presented yesterday – is that NFL owners are not optimistic about the Raiders chances of getting a deal done in their home market. Some in the media have suggested that Oakland and the Raiders might be the furthest apart of the three teams and existing markets involved in the LA relocation issue.

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Still, many in the media, such as NFL Network’s Albert Breer and SI’s Peter King, seem to believe that a completely viable option is that Stan Kroenke will move his team – despite the strong likelihood of securing public money for a new stadium in Saint Louis – and then the Raiders will then move to Saint Louis, with the Chargers either remaining in San Diego or moving up to Los Angeles, leaving two teams in Southern California.

This theory has some logical flaws: the team that has the best stadium situation of the three and has only been working on a new stadium for a short period of time would be allowed to essentially cut in line and move to Los Angeles while two teams who had been trying to get new stadiums for 15 years – the Chargers and Raiders – would be left in the dust. Even more illogical would be the NFL okaying such a move knowing that a completely viable NFL stadium plan exists in Saint Louis.

Furthering the illogical nature of this theory: it is well established that the Raiders are probably the most popular NFL team in the Los Angeles region, and it is well-known that the bulk of the Raider fanbase is in California, Nevada and Arizona. Allowing Kroenke to jump ahead of them and into LA, essentially forcing the Raiders to move completely away from their entire fan base, would completely disregard the vast majority of Raider fans, and would be a blow to Davis and the franchise in a business sense (Los Angeles is obviously a much more lucrative market than Saint Louis).

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  • The logic behind this is that the most fully-articulated LA-area stadium plan is, right now, Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood plan, plans for which are already public. Kroenke has gained the approval of the City of Inglewood already, while the Carson plan is nearing approval after collecting 14,000 petition signatures in support of the stadium there. Kroenke outright owns the Inglewood stadium site and much of the surrounding area, and sources close to the league and in the media believe that he wouldn’t invest in such a stadium project if he couldn’t bring his own team.

    That said, it’s becoming clear that the NFL views Los Angeles as a two-team market, and even Kroenke’s plan involves a two-team stadium, with two home locker rooms and two full executive suites for team offices. While there is clearly a competition developing between the Inglewood site and the Carson site, it’s not as cut and dry as “Raiders and Chargers” or “Rams.” There’s the possibility that the NFL lets Kroenke move his team, but allows one of the two California teams move along with him. The third team would either get something done in their own market, move to a publicly-financed stadium in Saint Louis, or move to another viable market – San Antonio, for example. With the Chargers already in the Southern California region – two hours south of LA – and the league wanting to protect the franchise from losing it’s hold on LA as a “secondary market” for TV purposes, it leaves the Raiders as the odd man out, needing a new stadium and not being able to find one in California.

    Of course, there are still three markets working on retaining a team. The NFL could decide that the Rams haven’t met the relocation criteria of good faith negotiating and require them to stay in Saint Louis for the forseeable future, which puts the Chargers and Raiders in the drivers seat. Even if San Diego does manage to put together a deal for the Chargers, there will still be a very rich man with a stadium plan in Inglewood who might settle for having any NFL team in his building, even if it isn’t the one he owns. And there is the chance that the NFL realizes that the Southern California region is home to over 20 million people, and lets two teams move to LA while the Chargers remain in San Diego. Right now, in March, it could still go in any direction.

    We are months away from knowing what the future holds for the Raiders, and for the Chargers and Rams and their respective home markets. But it seems apparent now that there will be at least one, if not two NFL franchises requesting to relocate to Los Angeles in January of next year. With the Raiders seemingly much farther away than either the Chargers or Rams on getting a stadium deal done, it stands to reason that the Raiders will not be in Oakland for much longer, irregardless of what happens in the LA market. Raider fans in Northern California may want to think long and hard about if they’d rather see their team in Los Angeles, or see them move to Missouri or Texas.