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Raiders withdraw lease offer for Coliseum

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NFL American football franchise the Oakland Raiders is seeking a new home for the 2019 season after opting to withdraw a lease proposal to continue playing at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The decision by the Raiders comes in response to the news earlier this week that the City of Oakland had filed a federal antitrust and breach of contract lawsuit against the National Football League, the Raiders and each of the other 31 NFL clubs, claiming compensation for the “cartel” actions that have led to its home franchise relocating to a new stadium in Las Vegas.

In March, the Raiders signed a lease deal with the Las Vegas Stadium Authority to build its new venue in Nevada. The deal was signed exactly a year after NFL owners gave the Raiders the green light to move to Las Vegas. The stadium will have a capacity of 65,000 and is projected to cost $1.8bn (£1.43bn/€1.59bn) to build. It is hoped the venue will be ready in time for the 2020 NFL season.

The Raiders currently hold a year-to-year lease with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority to play at the stadium it has called home since 1968. This deal was worth $3.5m for the current season and was reportedly due to go up to $7.5m for the final campaign before the team’s relocation.

However, this offer has now been withdrawn and the Raiders are now seeking a home for the 2019 season. It was confirmed this week that one of the team’s home regular season games will be played in either London or Mexico City, meaning that a stadium will be needed for at least seven matches. Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers, and San Diego, where the Chargers left for Los Angeles in 2017, have been linked as possible options.

Speaking at a press conference this week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the Raiders need to make a decision on a new home within the next two months. Goodell said: “It’s simply about trying to make the schedule; to get confirmation. I know Mark (Davis, the Raiders owner) has expressed it. He’d like to be in Oakland. And we need to do that for scheduling purposes, that’s really the timing. So I would say early January, February.”

Davis conceded that the Raiders could yet remain in Oakland, but added: “Emotionally, I don’t want to pay for my own lawsuit. But for the fans, it’s something that I’ve got to think about.”

In response to the Raiders pulling the lease offer, Justin Berton, spokesman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, told the ABC7 News website: “It’s a decision for Mark Davis to make. If he keeps the Raiders here, the Mayor’s happy our local diehard fans will enjoy a final season. If he wants to leave Oakland now, that’s his choice.”

Image: Oakland Raiders