Oakland officials to finally make direct push for Raiders

250px-Oakland_Raiders.svgIn the three-way battle over which NFL team or teams will relocate to Los Angeles — and what NFL city or cities will lose teams — Oakland has been unique.

In San Diego, Mayor Kevin Faulconer has declared his strong support for keeping the Chargers in place and urged the NFL to not let the team leave for a proposed stadium in Carson that owner Dean Spanos hopes to jointly build and operate with Raiders owner Mark Davis. Even as Faulconer faces withering criticism from team stadium point man Mark Fabiani, the first-term Republican says he’s ready to ask voters if they support contributing hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds toward a billion-dollar-plus stadium.

In St. Louis, both Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon have offered strong support for a new stadium, mostly paid for with taxpayer dollars, to either keep the Rams or to attract a new NFL team in case team owner Stan Kroenke succeeds with his bid to relocate the Rams to Inglewood.

But in Oakland, Mayor Libby Schaaf has not only strongly opposed the use of public funds for a stadium, she’s called the team stadium saga a “distraction.” Schaaf also hasn’t borrowed from the playbook of previous mayors who tried to keep their pro sports teams by using what might be called the guilt-trip approach — telling NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other team owners of what an assault on decency it would be to allow the Raiders to leave, given their ardent and devoted fan base. Unlike Missouri and San Diego officials, who have met repeatedly with Goodell and a handful of influential team owners, Oakland’s elected leaders have done almost no direct lobbying of key NFL players.

Touting team’s ‘die-hard regional fan base’

Next week, however, that’s going to change. This is from the Bay Area News Group’s report in the Contra-Costa Times:

OAKLAND — City officials working to keep the Raiders in Oakland will travel to New York next week to give a presentation to the NFL about their funding plan for a new stadium.


Officials from cities in St. Louis and San Diego, the other two cities with professional football franchises threatening to leave for Southern California, will also be making their pitch to the NFL.


Mayor Libby Schaaf confirmed she will attend Wednesday’s meeting with the NFL’s Los Angeles stadium and finance committee. …


“We’ll show how everything from Oakland’s growing economic momentum and urban vitality to the team’s die-hard regional fan base make it clear that there is no better time for a major league team to be located in, or associated with Oakland,” Schaaf said in a statement.

A serious effort or a PR ploy?

But given that Schaaf hasn’t budged on her stand against public financing and continues to call Oakland’s crime rate and weak economy far bigger issues, her trip to New York is seen by many Raiders fans as a public-relations gambit, not a serious bid to urge the NFL to remain a presence in Oakland.

This view was underscored by ESPN’s John Clayton, one of the best-connected NFL reporters, who wrote Tuesday that the league didn’t take Oakland seriously:

As for Oakland, there is no there, there. The area doesn’t have a stadium offer on the table, and time is running out.


“We’ve said one thing consistently to any of the markets that have been engaged in trying to put forth a proposal, and it really rests on a couple of pillars,” said Eric Grubman, who is coordinating the league’s Los Angeles project. “One of them is that a proposal has to be specific. The second is that it has to be attractive to a team. The third is it has to be actionable. And so what actionable means is it can’t just be an idea to the extent that there is enabling legislation or enabling financing activities or there are litigation threats or anything of that nature — anything that needs to be assembled in a time frame where a club can act on it.


“Thus far, those sorts of tests have not been made in Oakland, so as of yet, there is no proposal for the Raiders to consider.”

Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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