Oakland mayor tells Raiders fans to “keep the faith” despite possible move

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

OAKLAND (BCN) — The Oakland Raiders’ clash against the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night could be their last home game in Oakland, but Mayor Libby Schaaf said today that she thinks fans should “keep the faith” that the football team will stay in her city.

Raiders owner Mark Davis is actively exploring the possibility of moving the Raiders to Carson, a Los Angeles suburb, as soon as next fall, but Schaaf said she believes Davis’ repeated statements that his first choice is to keep the team in Oakland as long as a deal for a new stadium can be worked out.

The Raiders are one of three National Football League teams considering moving to the Los Angeles area next fall.

The San Diego Chargers are considering sharing a new stadium in Carson with the Raiders and the St. Louis Rams are thinking of moving to a new stadium in Inglewood, which is also in the Los Angeles area.

But Schaaf said Davis is the only owner among those three teams who wants his team to stay where it is as long as there’s an agreement for a new stadium.”Mark Davis really wants to stay in Oakland,” Schaaf said.

“Mark Davis really wants to stay in Oakland,” Schaaf said.Schaaf and other Oakland officials traveled to New York on Nov. 11 to present a preliminary plan to the NFL for building a new football stadium at the Oakland Coliseum complex, where the Raiders and the A’s baseball team share the O.co Coliseum. The aging structure is the only stadium in the U.S. that’s shared by professional football and baseball teams.

Schaaf said the city will present an updated proposal to the NFL on Dec. 29 or 30 but it won’t be a complete plan and the league isn’t expecting a final plan at that time.

Teams that want to apply to relocate to a new city may do so after Jan. 1 and NFL owners will consider proposals at a special meeting on Jan. 12 and 13. But three-fourths of the owners of the league’s 32 teams must approve any team moves.

Referring to the possibility that Oakland can complete a plan that will convince the Raiders to stay in the city, Schaaf said, “I do believe it can be done. We have the will.”

Schaaf said, “Oakland has so much to offer the NFL and the Raiders, starting with its passionate fans and the fact that we have one of the strongest markets in the league and one of the best sites for transit accessibility.”

She said she is committed to keeping the Raiders in Oakland in a way that doesn’t hurt taxpayers.

Schaaf said the city won’t directly help the Raiders pay the cost of building a new stadium but is prepared to pay for infrastructure improvements on the 120-acre Coliseum site that will be owned by the public in perpetuity.

Schaaf also said the city is considering monetizing revenues from the Raiders up front that would help the team pay for construction costs. She said the revenues would come from lease payments and property taxes that the team doesn’t pay now.

“We won’t put any public funds at risk,” Schaaf said.

Schaaf issued a statement on the Raiders Thursday:

We’re determined this will not be the Raiders’ last game in Oakland. We’re confident we can keep the Raiders in Oakland in a way that works for the team and its fans and is responsible to our taxpayers and protects the public dollar.

Raiders’ owner Mark Davis continues to say that his preference is for the team to stay in Oakland and we have made significant progress in demonstrating to the NFL and our team how the growing strength and value of the Oakland market and the devotion of Raiders fans in this region can support the team’s future in Oakland.

On December 30th we’ll be giving the NFL an update on our progress and asking for more time to get to a responsible deal. The NFL has never expected Oakland to have a formal new stadium proposal by December 30th. The NFL understands Oakland is operating in a uniquely complex situation and that we can’t rush what needs to be a transparent public process.

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