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Oakland – Raiders and A’s – at center of sports world

Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio argues a call on the sideline during overtime of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.
Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio argues a call on the sideline during overtime of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. The Associated Press

Talk about a great run, how about that city of Oakland?

Right now, it has the team with maybe the best story in the NFL. The Raiders tied for first in their division at 6-2, and Sunday nightthey play their most meaningful game since who can remember when. It’ll be against the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos, who come to town sharing the top notch in the AFC West with the Raiders, with half the season already gone.

Every home game is a blast at the Oakland Coliseum, and Sunday night’s figures to be one of the blastiest.

“It ought to be an amazing atmosphere,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said Friday. “So, I think, enjoy it. That’s what we do these things for. That’s what all the sacrifices are for. Games like this, they’re a lot of fun. So we’re going to enjoy it.”

The other tenant that plays in the Coliseum also should be patting itself on the back this week. Maybe the A’s finished in last place in the American League West, but general manager Billy Beane sprinkled their parts so wonderfully throughout the major leagues that he should get some credit for helping put on an entertaining World Series. Last year, Beane traded Ben Zobrist to to Kansas City where he won the first of two consecutive World Series titles, his latest coming Wednesday night with the Cubs while earning the Series MVP honors. Beane also dealt Addison Russell to the Cubs. He’s a terrific shortstop who was an All-Star this past summer and should continue to grow and prosper in Chicago. Don’t forget Oakland’s guy in Cleveland, Rajai Davis, whose home run in the bottom of the eighth for the Indians made Game 7 one of the most memorable in baseball history. A’s fans remember Davis as a guy who hit .305 for them in 2009 and .284 in 2010 before Beane dispatched him.

But don’t stop there. Beane traded Yoenis Cespedes to Boston in 2014 to acquire Jon Lester for a half season, knowing Lester would be gone once the season ended. Lester, of course, signed as a free agent with the Cubs and went 3-1 for them in this postseason. Beane also sent Coco Crisp to the Indians before this season’s trade deadline as another Oakland gift to fall baseball, and Cleveland rocked when Crisp drove in the only run to win Game 3.

Back on the Raiders beat, Oakland’s good news is coming off the field as well as on it. During a business tip to Tel Aviv last week, Sheldon Adelson gave a few minutes to Reuters for an interview. In case you missed it, Adelson said that things between him and the Raiders aren’t going so well over their maneuverings to relocate the franchise to Las Vegas. Hopefully, their relationship will continue to deteriorate. But Oakland still must come up with a stadium plan to keep the Raiders in town, or they’ll keep wanting to go somewhere else.

Adelson is the hotel-and-casino guy with $650 million to throw into a proposed Las Vegas stadium deal. His partner is Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose contribution to the arrangement is $500 million in NFL pass-through funds.

The project still needs the help of Nevada taxpayers to pencil out. Thanks to a vote of the state Legislature and the signature of Gov. Brian Sandoval, they are backstopping a $750 million hit the state is putting on southern Nevada tourists, whose higher hotel room taxes over time will repay the public’s contribution.

It sounded in Adelson’s interview as if a landlord-tenant dispute has erupted between him and Davis, even before a brick has been laid on the Raiders’ Las Vegas rental. Neither side has elaborated on Adelson’s comments, which reportedly read:

“I negotiated to bring in the Oakland Raiders, an NFL football team from Oakland, because they don’t have a stadium there, that I would build a stadium and rent it out to the Oakland Raiders. They want so much. So I told my people, ‘Tell them I could live with the deal, I could live without the deal. Here’s the way it’s going to go down. If they don’t want it, bye-bye.’ 

Very interesting statement, this question of who wants what. We know what Davis wants – a new stadium, and continued ownership of his team, not to be shared with Adelson or anyone else. Does he want part-ownership of the stadium, too? And, does Adelson want part of the team? You know he wants something, and you know that men who are worth $30 billion don’t go into deals to come out of them disappointed.

If he wants a casino that is somehow hooked into the stadium, which some have suggested, that is a question for the 32 NFL franchise owners. So is the move itself, and under their rules, 24 yes votes are required to approve it. Their chief employee, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, has voiced sympathy for keeping the team in Oakland.

We can only wait to see how things turn out, if and when Davis tries to sell a franchise shift to his partners on a deal with a $650 million hole in it, which would be the case if Adelson says bye-bye.

Of course, these are matters that league officials will place on hold until after the Super Bowl. Are the Raiders the team to knock them off along the way? We’ll know more about that Sunday night around 9 o’clock.

Andy Furillo: 916-321-1141, @andyfurillo

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