The long-running saga surrounding the future home of the Oakland Raiders is set to come to a close on Friday with a deal that will see the NFL American football franchise remain at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for the 2019 season, and potentially the 2020 campaign.
The Raiders are due to move from California to a new $1.8bn (£1.37bn/€1.59bn) stadium currently under development in Las Vegas. The move is due to take place for the 2020 season, but with the team’s lease at the Coliseum having expired on February 13 it is technically without a home for the 2019 campaign.
The fallout from the Raiders’ relocation has complicated talks over remaining in Oakland, but a resolution has now reportedly been found. The San Francisco Chronicle newspaper said the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority will vote on a deal on Friday. Under the proposed agreement, the Raiders will pay $7.5m to play in Oakland for the 2019 season. An option for 2020, rising to $10.5m, will be included if the new stadium in Las Vegas isn’t completed on time.
“We feel like we have satisfactorily dealt with all of the issues and are ready to bring it to the board for approval,” Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority executive director Scott McKibben told the Chronicle. “There was some issue around the Raiders practice facility in Alameda that needed to be worked out.”
The Alameda facility was built with taxpayers’ money but handed over to the Raiders as part of a $200m stadium renovation deal that saw the team return to the Coliseum from Los Angeles in 1995. The Raiders had responsibility for an estimated $525,000 in operating costs, taxes and debt payment on the facility.
The Chronicle said the Raiders had wanted the Coliseum to take back the Alameda facility and assume its costs, while the Authority was keen for the current agreement to remain in place until the end of the new lease.
“It’s been agreed that the property comes back to us when the Raiders leave town and stop playing football at the Coliseum,” McKibben said. “It had become an issue late in the talks that we needed it to be resolved.”
The new deal will also see a change in the handling of revenue from any potential naming rights deal for the stadium. The previous lease had called for a 50-50 split, but the Authority will now gain full revenue from any deal that is struck. “It’s a pretty complex deal, so we needed make sure we got it right,” McKibben added.
The Raiders in December opted to withdraw a lease proposal to continue playing at the Coliseum. The decision by the Raiders came in response to the earlier news 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 Las Vegas.
The Raiders had held a year-to-year lease with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority to play at the stadium. This deal was worth $3.5m for the 2018 season. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf last week said the lease negotiations would not change the status of the lawsuit, with local broadcaster KPIX 5 stating the legal action was not an issue in the talks.
Commenting on the talks, Schaaf said: “The city is done subsidising this team. We have to make a profit if they’re going to stay. That’s true for the county. For too long, the shakedown of the billionaire boys club has been going on and we are committing to stopping that.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis has emphasised his preference for the team to remain in the Bay Area for 2019. The team has also been linked with moves to Levi’s Stadium, home of rival NFL franchise the San Francisco 49ers, and Oracle Park, which plays host to Major League Baseball (MLB) team the San Francisco Giants.
Image: Oakland Raiders