Well, it’s been a good week for those of us who want to see the Raiders’ stadium deal in Las Vegas implode.
You might have seen the news item about how Raiders owner Mark Davis unloaded a bit of antipathy on Strip Stadium benefactor Sheldon Adelson. For his $650 million ante, it sounds as if Adelson wants a piece of the team. According to national sports blog Bleacher Report, Davis told Adelson last week to forget about it.
Dissension between those parties is a good thing for the Raiders staying in their ancestral home of Oakland.
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The week also saw some fires burning in the grass roots of Las Vegas.
While neither the Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee nor Adelson has a problem with raising hotel room taxes to pay for the state’s end of the deal, the Nevada Taxpayers Association does. The taxpayers this week came out in opposition to the state putting a $750 million touch on the voiceless casino customer.
In a separate announcement, Nevadans for the Common Good also turned thumbs down on the deal. The church-based activists think if the state’s going to get into $750 million worth of money changing, the cash should go to someplace other than a new temple for football.
It strikes me that Oakland – and by that I mean the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the Raiders – could be the first to embrace and pioneer what I believe is the next generation of stadium, which is a scaled-down, smaller stadium, which as closely as possible resembles the living room experience.
Amy Trask, former Raiders CEO
You already know NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t exactly hot on the deal. Nobody’s going anywhere, Goodell said, unless 24 of the league’s 32 owners say so.
With the Las Vegas momentum halted, it is incumbent on Oakland to come up with an affirmative plan to replace the Coliseum.
Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Raiders, has had one for years, and it is one worth discussing again.
Does a new stadium really have to cost so much?
The 49ers, of course, spent $1.3 billion to build Levi’s Stadium, which seemed like a lot until the Los Angeles Rams broke ground on a new joint in Inglewood that’s going to cost twice as much. Adelson, Davis and Nevada are talking about $1.9 billion for the Las Vegas project.
It’s crazy money, really. All you have to do is go to Stanford to see how you can build a football stadium for popular prices.
They built a perfectly fine, 50,000-seat stadium in Palo Alto 10 years ago for a mere $100 million. It even has some 400 “skybox” seats for the 1 percenters.
Trask is making the rounds these days with a fun new book, “You Negotiate Like a Girl.” Its best parts are her accounts of the profanities and eccentricities of her mentor, the late Al Davis, whose absolute faith in himself helped account for the construction of the winningest franchise in pro sports. Then in a sea of paranoia and bad draft picks, his team went into a tailspin from which it is only now emerging.
Before she resigned from the franchise in 2013, Trask spiced up the Raiders’ stadium conversation by raising the prospect of building a new “petite” facility. In an interview, she said she initially made the suggestion “facetiously.”
The idea, however, makes a lot of sense. Come to think of it, Trask agrees.
True, there are fewer seats. But you can reduce the cost. You can bring a building in of that nature for under a billion dollars.
Amy Trask, former Raiders CEO, on her vision of a new facility for the team
“It strikes me,” Trask said, “that Oakland – and by that I mean the city of Oakland, Alameda County and the Raiders – could be the first to embrace and pioneer what I believe is the next generation of stadium, which is a scaled-down, smaller stadium, which as closely as possible resembles the living-room experience.”
She would save tens, maybe hundreds of millions in construction costs by stripping out a third deck. Yes, the stadium would have fewer seats, maybe even fewer than at Stanford – 40,000 to 45,000, she said. The fewer seats, however, would mean “greater connectivity,” Trask said, and a chance for “technological enhancement and technological advantages.” She would go wild on toys – for instance, an iPad at every seat for video on demand to follow your fantasy favorites and to order a Drake’s IPA, to be served to you in your swivel chair that you could always keep pointed toward the ball.
Getting rid of the third deck would “eliminate the cost of the portion of the stadium that is the hardest to monetize,” according to Trask, and maybe put some downward pressure on the more limited supply of tickets.
“True, there are fewer seats,” Trask said. “But you can reduce the cost. You can bring a building in of that nature for under a billion dollars.”
Mark Davis says he’s willing to put $500 million into Las Vegas. Apply it to Techno Stadium Lite on Hegenberger Road and you’re more than halfway home.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf rightfully says the Raiders can forget about hitting up the general fund. But she adds that maybe the city can bond-fund $100 million to $300 million in infrastructure improvements leveraged against other commercial opportunities at the conveniently located stadium site, where Amtrak, BART and the Nimitz Freeway meet. We’ll take it.
The Oakland plan would still need some private financing, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and his pal, former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, are working the streets and suites to find it right now.
How much can they raise? And will they demand a piece of the team as Adelson appears to want in Las Vegas? How would Goodell react to that idea, compared to the possibility of an Adelson ownership slice?
A couple of weeks ago, when it looked as if there was no stopping a Raiders move to Las Vegas, these questions would have been moot. They aren’t anymore.