Oakland Raiders: Five Burning 2015 Questions

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Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fans tailgate while holding signs the read “Stay in Oakland” before the NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. Where Will the Raiders Play in 2016?

This is undoubtedly the most pressing question for fans, the media, and even players and coaches going into the 2015 season. The Raiders are on what is essentially a year-to-year lease at the O.Co Coliseum, an frankly decaying stadium that they must share with baseball’s Oakland A’s on a tenancy lease that sees the Raiders losing significant portions of stadium revenues. The Raiders have been pushing for a new home almost since returning to Oakland in 1995 (and, frankly, you could argue the entire 13 year stint in LA was a negotiation for a new Oakland stadium), and those negotiations have finally reached a critical point.

Last week, the details of the “Coliseum City” financing plan by Floyd Kephart and his New City Realty company were unveiled and universally slammed by the media and observers.  Kephart’s plan would essentially require the Raiders – with a bit of help from the NFL (who has not committed funds to any Oakland project) – to finance the stadium with a combination of cash, PSL sales, and by selling an astounding 20% of the team to Kephart’s group. The City of Oakland and County of Alameda have maintained that Kephart is the point man of the redevelopment project in the Coliseum area, and may actually sign off on Kephart’s proposal over the next couple of months. To be blunt, this proposal will drive the Raiders out of town by next season.

Meanwhile, the NFL is already shopping for temporary venues for any team or teams who relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, including the LA Coliseum, where the Raiders played home games from 1982 to 1994. The Raiders – along with the Chargers – have been openly participating in the development of a stadium site in Carson, a suburb located about 15 miles south of Downtown Los Angeles, one of two competing NFL stadium plans in the Los Angeles market. And while Carson seems like the primary relocation plan for the Raiders, there is nothing that would keep them from also making a deal with the Inglewood group, either to share the stadium with the Rams or to play there solo if the Rams remain in Saint Louis.

Barring a last-minute save by Oakland and Alameda County officials (which would essentially require them to come up with money that the City and County don’t really have) or some circumstance that prevents them from getting a new stadium deal in Los Angeles completed (which is far more likely than a new stadium deal happening in Oakland), the Raiders will be playing games in Los Angeles to start the 2016 season. The most likely temporary home seems to be the Los Angeles Coliseum – again – since public opinion in Pasadena (where the Rose Bowl is located) seems to be mounting against hosting an NFL team temporarily, especially if that team is the Raiders. Dodger Stadium seems a potential fit as well, while Carson’s StubHub Center seems likely far too small to be a viable NFL host, even temporarily.