Thursday, January 07, 2016

Oakland calls NFL's bluff

Proposed new Raiders stadium in Oakland

It’s NFL self-imposed deadline week for San Diego, St. Louis, and Oakland to come up with concrete stadium plans to keep their teams from moving to Los Angeles, and one shoe has already dropped:

Oakland faces a Wednesday deadline to give the NFL a financing plan for a new Raiders football stadium, but city officials, who have repeatedly said they won’t stick taxpayers with the bill, indicated Monday that no plan is forthcoming. Instead, Oakland will send a letter to league officials simply updating them on the city’s efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay in town, said Claudia Cappio, Oakland’s assistant city administrator.

This is what’s known as calling the NFL’s bluff: With all indications that the NFL won’t be able to get 24 of 32 owners to agree on an L.A. relocation plan in votes next month, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf doesn’t have much to lose by telling the league “Sorry, no Raiders stadium plan for you.” Especially since at this point, there’s no way Schaaf could present a more lucrative offer than what’s on the table in St. Louis — so her best hope for retaining the Raiders is either that the NFL gives Rams owner Stan Kroenke permission to move to L.A. and Raiders owner Mark Davis is left out in the cold, or that nobody decides anything, either of which means Davis is stuck having to continue negotiations with Oakland or else try to find another city to relocate to.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt Schaaf that if the Raiders do leave, it would solve another problem for her, namely by clearing room for A’s owner Lew Wolff to build a new stadium on the Oakland Coliseum property — which he claims he can do without public funds — instead of having to resort to the problematic alternative sites. We’ll see how this all plays out, but so far Schaaf seems to be negotiating from a position of strength, on the grounds that the city’s sports teams need Oakland more than it needs them — which is refreshing, at least, even if we don’t know just how far she’ll take it.

More on the issue in yesterday's East Bay Express: Schaaf's Stance on Raiders Is Spot On

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