City Of Toronto

Community Tailgate: Where Will Raiders Play?

As the NFL offseason nears, there are plenty of topics and storylines to discuss, and PFR’s Community Tailgate is designed to address those stories. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

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As we enter February, two of the three NFL franchises that faced major uncertainty last month have some sort of resolution for at least the short term. The Rams are heading to Los Angeles immediately and will play at the Coliseum until their brand-new Inglewood stadium is ready in a few years. The Chargers will play the 2016 season in San Diego before making a final decision on their long-term future.

The only team without any short-term certainty is the Raiders, who appear likely to return to Oakland for at least one more year, but don’t have an agreement in place to play at O.co Coliseum at this point. The stadium, which the Raiders share with MLB’s Oakland Athletics, isn’t exactly the NFL’s most impressive venue, but it’s fine as an interim home, and I expect the Raiders to play there in 2016 while the franchise considers its long-term options.

Owner Mark Davis is in the process of considering those options as we speak — Davis paid a visit to Las Vegas last Friday to meet with a group of investors proposing to build a $1 billion domed stadium near UNLV. Additionally, ideas such as the Raiders building an NFL stadium in San Antonio or sharing Levi’s Stadium with the 49ers have resurfaced in recent weeks as the Raiders mull their next move.

Of course, there are as many cons as pros for most of the Raiders’ potential homes. There’s major skepticism that the NFL would allow a team to relocate to Las Vegas, America’s gambling capital, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Texans owner Bob McNair would likely push hard to keep the Raiders out of Texas. As for sharing a stadium with the Niners, Davis has shown no interest in such a partnership.

Los Angeles is a possibility for the Raiders, but only if the Chargers ultimately decide to pass on a partnership with the Rams, and Davis would still have to reach his own agreement with Stan Kroenke in that scenario. If the Chargers head to L.A. in 2017, San Diego could be in play for the Raiders, though there’s some uncertainty about how the NFL and Chargers owner Dean Spanos would feel about that possibility.

London and Toronto have frequently been cited as potential homes for NFL franchises as well, though there’s no indication that Davis has explored international options yet. St. Louis, having just lost the Rams, would appear on the surface to be a logical match, but Davis has said he’s not considering St. Louis, and mayor Francis Slay doesn’t appear interested in pursing another team.

Oakland may be the best home for the Raiders in both the short- and long-term — Mayor Libby Schaaf expressed optimism for that outcome during an appearance on KTVU on Sunday night, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk details.

According to Florio, Schaaf hopes to secure a renewal of the Raiders’ lease at O.co Coliseum and then move on to negotiations on a “permanent, beautiful home for those Raiders.” That’s easier said than done though, and so far none of the discussions between the Raiders and the city of Oakland have resulted in any sort of viable stadium plan. It’s not clear whether the NFL committing an extra $100MM to the project will change that.

What do you think? Should the Raiders do everything they can to make it work in Oakland, or is there another city that makes more sense for them? Where do you think the Raiders will ultimately end up, and where do you think they should end up?

Latest On Los Angeles

Sources have suggested to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News that Rams owner Stan Kroenke might simply go back to the Edward Jones Dome on one-year leases and turn attention to Toronto or London. Alternatively, if the Chargers and Raiders move to Los Angeles, the Bay Area and San Diego could be markets he considers as a new home for the Rams. It’s not immediately clear if an international move or relocation to Oakland or San Diego is a consideration for Kroenke. I’m personally skeptical of the probability of those ideas, they are interesting to note as the race to Los Angeles continues.

Here’s more on L.A..

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters, including Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) that he’s encouraged by the fact that there are two possibilities for how to enter the L.A. market at this time. Right now, those two plans are ostensibly the Rams‘ proposed project in Inglewood and the joint Chargers/Raiders plan for Carson, Calif.
  • While those are the two competing plans at this time, a source tells Bonsignore (Twitter link) that there seems to be a lot of pressure to put the Rams and Chargers in a room together. Due to financial constraints, many have wondered if the Raiders could wind up getting squeezed out.
  • The NFL’s return to Los Angeles seems both inevitable and hugely complicated, James Bell of USA Today writes.

East Notes: Bills, Dez, Washington, Jets

When Terry Pegula and Kim Pegula were bidding for the Bills last year, one key factor that gave them an advantage of other potential suitors was the Pegulas’ desire to keep the franchise in Buffalo, rather than moving it somewhere like Toronto. However, Terry Pegula told John Kryk of the Toronto Sun at the owners’ meetings this week that he isn’t totally opposed to the idea of an NFL team in Ontario.

“I don’t think I would have a problem with it if they could support the team,” Pegula said. “It’s a big enough market. I don’t know how that works with the CFL, though.”

For now, the NFL is far more focused on getting franchises in Los Angeles and perhaps even London, so nothing is at all imminent for Toronto. But if the possibility arose down the line, it doesn’t sound as if Pegula would be opposed.

Here’s more from around the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Pegula also discussed the Bills‘ offseason, including the recruitment of Percy Harvin, with Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News.
  • Speaking to David Helman of DallasCowboys.com, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones indicated he doesn’t believe Dez Bryant would hold out for a long-term deal this year. “There’s no doubt in my mind that – without being presumptuous, without doing anything – that Dez will be on the field and a Dallas Cowboy under either of the circumstances — long-term or franchise agreement,” Jones said. “I’m not worried about [a holdout] at all, and it’s because of how much he loves the game, how much he knows that preparation, practice, all of that improves him.”
  • Washington general manager Scot McCloughan intends to continue adding pieces to the team’s offensive line, and left the door open to making additions via either free agency or the draft, writes Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
  • Veteran DE/OLB Jason Trusnik was among the latest free agents to visit the Jets, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Trusnik has spent the last four seasons with the division-rival Dolphins.
  • Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie made the right call in giving Chip Kelly complete decision-making power in Philadelphia, but Lurie’s decision to keep former GM Howie Roseman in the front office “lacked conviction,” says Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bills Announce Termination Of Toronto Series

The Bills will no longer play regular season and preseason contests at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the team announced today in a press release. According to the team, the Bills and Rogers Communications have agreed to terminate the Bills Toronto series, which began in 2008.

“We greatly appreciate the support we’ve received over the past seven years from all of the tremendous people at Rogers Communications,” said Bills CEO Russ Brandon. “We will continue to work hard to solidify our footprint in Southern Ontario. Our fan base in this region remains extremely important to our organization and their support has been well documented.”

The agreement between the Bills and Rogers resulted in six regular season games and two preseason games played at the Rogers Centre, the home of MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. However, Toronto’s enthusiasm for the series appeared to have dimmed in recent years — even after the team and Rogers renewed their agreement in 2013, the 2014 Toronto regular season game was postponed.

The move out of Toronto is the first major change made by Terry Pegula and Tim Pegula, the Bills’ new owners. The Pegulas dismissed any speculation about a move to Ontario when they bought the franchise earlier this year, and the decision to terminate the Toronto series further solidifies the franchise’s place in Western New York.