NFL didn’t see Oakland bid to save Raiders as serious

As expected, NFL owners meeting at a Phoenix resort have given their blessing to Raiders owner Mark Davis’ plan to move the team from Oakland to Las Vegas on a 31-1 vote.

The Monday decision came after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s last-minute appeal to delay the relocation vote and consider a new stadium proposal unveiled last week. The plan called for building a $1.3 billion football stadium on a 55-acre parcel south of the Oakland Coliseum, where the Raiders now play – a proposal that Schaaf described as a “fully financed, shovel-ready project.” It was structured around a $600 million commitment from the Fortress Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.

But in a lengthy letter released by the NFL, Goodell made clear the league didn’t buy the idea the proposal was either fully financed or shovel-ready. It stated that none of the various proposals offered by the city and its potential development partners at any point had ever come close to meeting the league’s basic requirements to retain the Raiders.

“We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on overall development,” Goodell wrote. “However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed.”

The Nevada Legislature’s October decision to commit to providing $750 million in public dollars to a new Raiders stadium proved decisive, as many NFL insiders had predicted.

Raiders will keep playing in Oakland for at least two years

The pain of losing a team with one of pro sports’ most fanatical fan bases will be particularly acute for Oakland. That’s because unlike the last two NFL team relocations – the San Diego Chargers in January to Los Angeles and the St. Louis Rams a year ago to Los Angeles – Oakland will continue to be the Raiders’ base for two or even three more seasons as a $1.9 billion, 65,000-seat stadium complex is built in Las Vegas. The 35,500-seat Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas used by UNLV’s college football team is not up to NFL standards.

This extended goodbye doesn’t sit well with some in the Bay Area. “Mark Davis didn’t deserve the fans he had. Get out of here, right now,” one columnist wrote Monday afternoon.

In a Phoenix news conference, Davis acknowledged fans’ pain and said he would “use the coming days [to] try to explain to them what went into making this difficult decision.”

Now Schaaf and other Oakland leaders will need to make big decisions about whether to pursue another NFL team – similar to decisions still to be made in San Diego, where a Major League Soccer team has its eyes on the Qualcomm Stadium site.

But Goodell’s letter – while polite – offered clear hints about the chilly reception Oakland might get if it seeks another team without having fully established and vetted funding to pay for most or nearly all of a stadium project. Goodell noted Schaaf’s acknowledgment that substantial direct taxpayer funding is very unlikely.

Oakland’s hope for future NFL team: Benevolent billionaire

Unless one (or more) deep-pockets billionaires emerge who is willing to mostly or entirely fund a new stadium – like Rams owner Stan Kroenke is doing in Inglewood – this creates a bad dynamic for Oakland. The city will never be considered a serious contender to get a relocated team without a stadium in place. But building a stadium without first getting an NFL commitment is a billion-dollar-plus gamble.

The NFL owners’ decision adds to what has been a rough year for Oakland. The Raiders’ delayed exit adds to the angst stemming from the Ghost Fire blaze that killed 36 people in January and the pending departure of the Golden State Warriors from the Oracle arena in Oakland for new digs by the ocean across the bay in San Francisco.


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  1. Richard Rider
    Richard Rider 28 March, 2017, 09:51

    California is losing another high paying firm to a tax-free state. This company is so rich that it pays EVERYONE who wears its corporate uniform AT LEAST a big six figure income. Some get 7 or 8 figure annual incomes.

    That departing company is (currently) known as the Oakland Raiders. Soon to be known as the Las Vegas Raiders. Or perhaps the Nevada Raiders.

    One aspect seldom mentioned is the dramatic change in the Oakland players’ state income tax. But the zero percent Nevada state income tax will make recruiting high quality free agents much easier for the Raiders than the current “enticement” of paying a 13.3% California state income tax. Moreover, rich young men would doubtless prefer to be in glitzy Las Vegas than in decaying Oakland.

    And let us not forget the 0% Nevada CORPORATE state income tax. The CA corporate income tax is 8.8% — highest west of the Mississippi (except Alaska).

    Yeah, the Raiders will get a spiffy new Las Vegas stadium largely at taxpayer expense. But old stadium or new, the Oakland Raiders currently have almost the entire upper tier of their Oakland stadium empty. Local people simply can’t afford to go to the games. Those that CAN afford such games too often go watch the San Francisco 49ers.

    The press will make much of the taxpayer subsidies, and that’s just fine with me. I’m adamantly opposed to taxpayers subsidizing millionaires and billionaires. But I think that perhaps the press will miss the more fundamental factor that, year after year, the players and owners will keep (net) a lot more of their salaries and profits in Nevada than in California.

    Reply this comment
    • Joe
      Joe 28 March, 2017, 12:02

      Look on the bright side, Richard. The Demorats are about to jack up the tax on diesel 20 cents a gallon and gasoline 15 cents a gallon and raise the vehicle license tax and force us to pay a new tax on all vehicles sold in the state, yet no one seems to be paying attention to this.

      How many more firms will leave the state because of this? A lot more than one football team.

      Reply this comment
      • Richard Rider
        Richard Rider 29 March, 2017, 12:45

        There’s a whole PILE of bills in the CA legislature to raise taxes. Included is the threat to reinstitute a CA estate tax — on steroids. We repealed it (technically an “inheritance tax”) in about 1980 with a prop.

        Also there’s a bill to raise our huge 13.3% “soak the rich” CA income tax another full percentage point. Sooner or later, the rich will get the message. It’s a CLEAR message. We HATE rich people in the Golden State!

        HOH BOY!

        Reply this comment
        • Joe
          Joe 29 March, 2017, 13:42

          I was not aware of the tax increase proposals you mentioned.

          The Demonrats have so many tax increase and new tax proposals that I cannot keep up with all of them.

          Reply this comment
  2. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 28 March, 2017, 15:36

    California is losing about everything becuase of idiots like Moonbeam and Newsom Hey the Beverly Hillbillies have left and the dirisdales and Miss Hataway are going with them

    Reply this comment

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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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