In an interview with Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com, Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf reiterated the city is still interested in keeping the Raiders despite Las Vegas’ aggressive pursuit. The Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure committee navigated a key hurdle in the process of bringing an NFL team to Vegas by approving the $750MM in public funds for a potential $1.9 billion Raiders stadium.
Schaaf told Ratto she’s not interested in winning a public-perception battle with Las Vegas, with Oakland and Vegas on the surface heading in opposite directions regarding their interest in the Raiders. She confirmed negotiations are ongoing with the Raiders’ Oakland point man Larry McNeil but declined to offer much in the way of specifics.
“As Mayor of Oakland, it’s my job to remain fully focused on what I can do to responsibly keep the team where they belong, here in Oakland,” Schaaf told Ratto. “While Nevada lawmakers consider making the largest public investment in a private stadium deal in history by approving a $750MM public subsidy for a facility in Las Vegas, I will continue to work with the NFL and the Raiders’ designee Larry McNeil to iron out a deal that works for the team, the league, the fans and the taxpayers in Oakland.”
Schaaf reiterated her stance on public funding, categorizing the appetite for using that financing method as being much lower in Oakland than it is in Las Vegas. She instead called on business leaders in the Bay Area to get involved since the public-subsidy component of this prospective new stadium offer won’t be substantial.
“There is a long and complicated history between this team and this city,” Schaaf told Ratto. “We’ve learned from the mistakes of the past and we won’t repeat them. Oakland is neither rolling over, nor giving up. Now is the time for everyone in our region to pull together to show the NFL and the Raiders that their future is in Oakland.”
For what it’s worth, Raiders veteran left tackle Donald Penn said, via NFL.com (Twitter link), Mark Davis continues to inform the team he’s “doing everything possible” to try to keep the Raiders in Oakland. This comment runs counter to Davis’ numerous assertions he will move the team to Las Vegas if Nevada green-lights the finances. The plan must now be approved by the state legislature and Nevada governor Brian Sandoval.
Just today, Davis said, via Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (on Twitter), “I think everybody wins in this. We still have work to do. We’re going to make Las Vegas and Nevada proud.”
Raiders president Marc Badain also told Youmans (via Twitter) Davis wants to make the league “an offer it can’t refuse,” and categorized today as a key step toward securing such a proposal.
Schaaf told Ratto she is “constantly” working to keep the Raiders, albeit in a way that is fiscally responsible for the city. She noted the Bay Area’s wealth and the region’s location are key selling points for both the Raiders and the NFL, pointing out that those factors likely induced the league to make the Raiders third in line for Los Angeles behind the Rams and Chargers in February’s seminal decision. She also mentioned the Ronnie Lott-backed group as bringing energy to the project, even if scant details have emerged on what kind of impact that developmental venture’s had to date. Davis and Lott have engaged in discussions, however.
“Oakland has a lot to offer to this team and the NFL. The Coliseum site is the most accessible and transit-rich location for professional sports in the country, the Bay Area is a tremendous market for the league both in terms of sports and ancillary development opportunities and the regional fan base here is without comparison,” Schaaf said.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.