Kenny Mellor, a longtime Raiders season-ticket holder and member of the grassroots group Save Oakland Sports, said his emotions ran a quick gamut after the NFL’s vote on relocation was announced Tuesday.
“When I heard the first announcement, I was elated,” Mellor said. “Then I was a little let down when I heard (Raiders owner) Mark Davis’ comments. I don’t think we have a definitive answer yet on what’s going to happen with the Raiders.”
The compromise approved by NFL owners in Houston provided little resolution to the long-term future of the Raiders, other than confirming the team will not play its home games in Los Angeles in 2016. The owners voted to allow the Rams to move from St. Louis to the Los Angeles area and build a stadium in Inglewood and gave the San Diego Chargers the option to join the Rams within the next year.
If the Chargers stay in San Diego, that option would go to the Raiders in 2017, leaving open the possibility of an eventual move to L.A. Owners also voted to provide money to the Raiders and Chargers for potential stadium projects in their current home markets.
America, the world, is a possibility for Raider Nation.
Mark Davis, Raiders owner
The city of Oakland touted Tuesday’s outcome as an extended opportunity to keep the Raiders, but Davis did not commit to Oakland – even in the short term. A statement released by the Raiders late Tuesday did not mention Oakland, saying the team “will now turn our attention to exploring all options to find a permanent stadium solution.” Davis told the Bay Area News Group after the vote that “America, the world, is a possibility for Raider Nation.”
Still, Andy Dolich, a Bay Area sports-marketing consultant and former NFL executive, said Oakland appears to be the likeliest home for the Raiders, at least for next season.
“I’d say (Tuesday’s vote) is a clear win for Bay Area fans of the Oakland Raiders,” Dolich said. “Short of some inexplicable situation coming up – and I would never say never – but in all likelihood when the NFL schedule comes out, they’ll be able to buy their tickets and go root for their team in Oakland.”
The Raiders’ lease at O.co Coliseum expires soon, but the team could stay on a short lease while continuing to negotiate a longer-term solution. That would allow the Raiders to continue discussions with Oakland about a new stadium or explore moving to another city.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf released a statement Tuesday night saying the city was “pleased to have additional time to work with the Raiders and the NFL to build a new home for the team in Oakland. We recognize that the Raiders have been understandably frustrated over the years, so we are excited to have this chance to rededicate ourselves to getting a deal done in Oakland that works for the team, the NFL, our fans and our taxpayers.”
In a letter to the league last month, Oakland officials floated the idea of offering 60 acres on the Coliseum site to the Raiders for a new stadium, while touting Oakland as being at the center of a thriving commercial market. The city, though, has maintained that it will not contribute large public subsidies to a stadium, and Davis has reportedly cited a $500 million gap between what the Raiders could contribute and what a new stadium would cost.
As part of Tuesday’s agreement, the NFL would contribute an additional $100 million to help fund a stadium in Oakland. But, as Dolich pointed out, that appears to still leave a significant gap.
“That’s not getting you to the finish line of a new stadium in Oakland,” Dolich said, adding the situation is complicated by the Raiders’ co-tenants, the A’s, who are also trying to obtain a new stadium, and potential resistance from the neighboring 49ers to having another new football facility in the area.
We haven’t had a winning season in 13 years, we play in a stadium that everyone agrees needs to be replaced, there’s been constant uncertainty over the team’s future, and despite that, we still sell out.
Jim Zelinski, co-founder of Save Oakland Sports
Davis told reporters in Houston after Tuesday’s vote the Raiders would be open to staying in Oakland. Other possible destinations that have been suggested for the Raiders include San Antonio, St. Louis or San Diego – if the Chargers choose to move.
Asked specifically about two of those locations Tuesday, Davis told reporters that St. Louis “isn’t in our interest” and declined to talk hypothetically about San Diego. Davis also has maintained staunch opposition to the idea of sharing Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with the 49ers.
Jim Zelinski, co-founder of Save Oakland Sports, said regardless of where the Raiders look, they’re unlikely to find more loyal fans than in Oakland.
“We haven’t had a winning season in 13 years, we play in a stadium that everyone agrees needs to be replaced, there’s been constant uncertainty over the team’s future, and despite that, we still sell out,” Zelinski said.
Zelinski said that while following the relocation saga has been a “roller coaster” from a fan’s perspective, Tuesday’s vote provided “concrete hope” the Raiders, for now anyway, are staying put.
“Our fundamental hope here is the door has not been closed on Oakland,” Zelinski said. “We don’t believe it is, because this is truly the home of the Raiders. This is where they were born and bred.”