Raiders look for short-term lease before long-term home

Derek Carr
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half of an NFL football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With the Oakland Raiders’ hopes of moving to Los Angeles on hold right now, Mayor Libby Schaaf said the team’s primary focus is on securing a lease to remain at the Coliseum for the 2016 season.

The NFL voted last month to allow the Rams to move to Inglewood with an option for the Chargers to join them. The Chargers plan to spend the next year trying to secure a stadium deal to remain in San Diego, leaving the Raiders waiting to find out if Los Angeles is an option for them in their long search for a new stadium.

But before figuring out where they can play for the long haul, the Raiders need to find a home for next season. The team’s lease at the Coliseum expires Feb. 17 and the Raiders have been in talks with the Joint Powers Authority that runs the Coliseum about extending the deal for one year.

“It’s my impression that that’s the Raiders’ priority,” Schaaf said following a news conference held by the local organizing committee for Super Bowl 50 in the Bay Area. “That’s the communications I’ve heard from them. Of course I’m anxious to get them back to the table to talk about a new stadium. But I understand that their first focus is where they play next year.”

The Raiders have been negotiating a lease extension with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority for about 10 days following the vote last month by NFL owners to block the team’s planned move to Carson.

Scott McKibben, the head of the Coliseum authority, said he believes the Raiders are seriously interested in getting a deal done with Oakland for 2016 but there are still some issues that need to be resolved.

“It’s always more challenging when all you’re trying to do is a one-year short-term lease,” he said. “These are more difficult to get done than a five- or 10- or 20-year lease when you’re getting a longer commitment from all parties. But things are moving along and we are having productive and meaningful discussions.”

But the Raiders could be hesitant to enter a longer deal until they know whether Los Angeles will be an option.

If the Chargers get a stadium deal done in San Diego, the Raiders could then join the Rams at their new stadium. Owner Mark Davis also toured a potential stadium site in Las Vegas last week as he seeks a new home.

“I’d hope they’d take the moment to sit with Oakland, not across the table in a negotiating posture but side by side in a collaborative posture to see if a deal can be done,” said CBS analyst Amy Trask, the former CEO of the Raiders who spent years working on stadium issues. “I believe there is a deal to be done as long as they collaborate.”

The Coliseum is the only stadium that is home to both an NFL and baseball team, has a crumbling infrastructure and lacks many of the money-making amenities in more modern venues.

Schaaf said she looks forward to sitting down soon with Davis to negotiate a deal for a new stadium that will not require a direct public subsidy, given the fact that the city and county still owe about $100 million to pay off the upgrades made when the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995.

The NFL has pledged $100 million for a stadium in Oakland in addition to the $200 million loan the Raiders could get from the league. That would still leave a significant funding gap of about $400 million that needs to be bridged.

Oakland officials said in December that they would be able to give the Raiders 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new 55,000-seat stadium and development area but the Raiders believe they will need more land to make a deal work. Schaaf has indicated a willingness to negotiate on that point and is using land and a committed fan base as the main selling points for Oakland.

Complicating matters is the fact that the Athletics also are looking for a new stadium and Oakland would likely need to find a solution for them before deciding to build a new football stadium at the Coliseum site.

Schaaf said she would prefer that the A’s build a new stadium closer to downtown on the waterfront but owner Lew Wolff has been against those plans.

“That would obviously make my Raiders situation less complicated,” Schaaf said. “It would make more land available, a lot more flexibility with development. Obviously that is part of the puzzle with the A’s because I want to keep both my teams.”

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