Now that nothing but the Super Bowl lies between us and the rest of our lives, it is time to talk about the Oakland Raiders’ future and an outer-limit scenario that includes a home in Sacramento.
The chance is small, the likelihood tiny as an atom falling in the universe. But there are serious people who confirm it as a theoretical possibility, and there is one local talk-radio personality who threw it out there on Twitter, and on his show.
“Carmichael Dave” Weiglein says his listeners and followers have responded in “overwhelmingly positive” tones since he floated the idea a couple weeks ago about the Raiders teaming up with Republic FC to build a football/soccer stadium in the railyard.
“When you have the opportunity to back two for the price of one, you go for it,” Dave says.
First of all, do not dismiss anything Carmichael Dave says or does, especially if you’re a hedge fund billionaire. If you do, you’re likely to have your plans flyswatted into the cheap seats. Just ask Chris Hansen, the money man who tried to steal the Kings from Sacramento a couple years ago. He came out of it bloodied by Carmichael Dave in Weiglein’s coast-to-coast bus tour to educate NBA fans across the country on why the Kings should stay in Sacramento.
Bottom line: The Kings didn’t go anywhere, and Hansen’s public image – around here, anyway – wound up figuratively shackled neck to wrist in wooden stocks and bombarded with the overripened fruit from which the Big Tomato takes its name.
Secondly, Carmichael Dave is not out to steal anybody’s team. He became a star fighting another guy’s grab. He’s not about to go two-face on Oakland.
“I do not want to do to Oakland fans what Seattle and Anaheim tried to do to the Kings,” he said.
All Dave is doing is talking up a Northern California escape route for the Raiders should they fail to make a deal in Oakland. On Monday, the Raiders and the O.co Coliseum people are supposed to begin talks on a lease that will keep the team there for at least one more year. Their long-range solution remains a work in progress, with cities like San Diego, Santa Clara, San Antonio and Portland identified as potential future homes for the Raiders.
Carmichael Dave thinks Sacramento belongs in the mix. He notes that $226 million in private money already has been corralled to build a stadium in the railyard when Republic FC graduates to Major League Soccer. Raiders owner Mark Davis is standing at the touch line with another $300 million throw-in, while the NFL drops $300 million more into the coffin corner at North Seventh Street. Put it all together, and you’ve got enough to build a 55,000-seat stadium, Carmichael Dave’s thinking goes.
Between Sacramento, Reno, the East Bay and the no-man’s land everywhere else, there are plenty of people to fill the park, and there are plenty of trains and roads and an international airport to get them here.
While Carmichael Dave has demonstrated a knack for shaping outcomes, he still is only a superfan-turned-talk-show-host. When it comes to moving teams and building stadiums in Northern California, the man to talk to is sports consultant Andy Dolich. The former executive with the A’s, 49ers and Golden State Warriors believes talk of the Raiders-to-Sacramento is interesting, and, although unlikely, not at all crazy.
“I don’t think there’s anything that can be defined as crazy in sports,” Dolich said. “Could the Giants a long time ago have built essentially a privately financed ballpark right on the bay, and would it turn into one of the most beautiful and respected baseball venues in North America? Was it crazy when people said no way could the 49ers move from San Francisco and build a $1.4 billion stadium in Santa Clara and still call themselves the 49ers? No, that’s not crazy. Is it crazy that the Golden State Warriors could overcome some significant legal hurdles and build a billion-dollar-plus arena in Mission Bay?”
Sacramento already has shown expertise on professional basketball retention. Its minor-league baseball team is one of the most successful in America. The area is well positioned to accommodate the greater Northern California sports market. In fact, the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, almost got us a racetrack once in Dixon. It would be nice if they tried again but amended that plan to put it at Cal Expo instead.
Now for the cold water: The MLS, in Dolich’s observation, is not terribly interested in sharing stadiums with NFL teams.
“I don’t see it happening” in the railyard, Dolich said.
He thinks the best spot for a Raiders stadium in Sacramento would be the hole in the ground next to Sleep Train Arena, a project that likely would cost more than $1 billion. No way anybody is getting any more public money to build stadiums around here anytime soon, according to the Dolich analysis, which means Mark Davis would have to bring in a billionaire partner. Dolich doesn’t see that happening, either.
So it was an intriguing thought, the Sacramento Raiders, and thanks to Carmichael Dave for giving it voice. As for NorCal Raiders fans, it looks like you’re going to have O.co Coliseum for another year. When they finish working out the new lease, the next step for Davis and the politicians will be to figure out a way to gut and remodel the place.