Will the Raiders Decide the A’s Stadium Issue?

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If you live in the bay area you’d have to be living in a van by the river to have not heard about the Oakland Raiders’ “plan” to go halvsies with the San Diego Chargers on a stadium in Carson, California. The knee jerk reaction by Oakland Athletics fans who don’t have an interest in football and/or the Raiders was that this was potentially great news in that it removes one major roadblock to the A’s new stadium.

The roadblock in question is that there’s simply not enough space to build two facilities on the current coliseum land without relocating one or both teams for several years during construction. That roadblock is significant and, probably, justified but not without other simple solutions. The Raiders could easily play at Levi during the construction years while the A’s played at AT&T park during construction years. With the Raiders out of the equation the simple solution has now become to build a ball park next door and then demolish O.co when it’s done.

Here’s the kicker, though. Nobody really knows if the Raiders truly intend to move or if this is just a high leverage stunt to get things moving a little faster on an Oakland deal. The stunt could prove to be dangerous considering that the powers that be have already dealt with these types of manuevers from the A’s and many of them still have a bad taste in their mouth about the Mount Davis debt that is still being repaid as the team argues to tear it down.

If the Raiders do decide to move this puts the A’s in a great position. The A’s ownership group has long said they can privately finance a ballpark, which is much of the reason they were eager to move to San Jose, and new Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf has said that no public money would be used for the stadium but that she’s willing to front the bill for infrastructure costs. Those infrastructure costs probably don’t change too drastically depending on whether one stadium or two are built since she’s mostly talking about BART access, off ramps, new roads and things of that nature which would only need to be done once to service the entire property but since the Raiders have a significant shortfall in the money they need to build a stadium (which is why a partnership with the Chargers does make sense) Oakland may be more confident in striking a deal with a team that has made a point of not wanting public funds for construction.

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Adding fuel to the confusion, former Raiders CEO Amy Trask told 95.7 that a relocation could be a “real significant possibility.” She cited the hardship a new stadium in Oakland could face in regards to corporate support with Levi stadium around 30 miles down the road. Hearing her talk, it was pretty clear that she had been involved with stadium discussions during her tenure and that some sort of move has always been, at least, a plan B. She cites that the fan base will support a stadium in Oakland but the corporate dollars, naming rights, advertising, and suites are what make a stadium viable in the long term and if Levi is courting the bay area’s heaviest hitters, Raiders nation may be left with fewer or less extravagant company sponsorships.

A report from Matier and Ross came out over the weekend that says a “source” claims that if things don’t shape up in the next 30 days either the Raiders or Oakland will call it quits. This is a ridiculous sound bite. Although it may be 100% true that one side has come up with a 30 day deadline for progress, any story that comes from a “source” close to a non-specific side of the negotiations claiming that one of the parties, we don’t know who, could end negotiations should be taken with a grain or two of salt.

All in all, this is a very fascinating story to watch. If the Raiders aren’t bluffing and they’re set to move forward in Carson, the ramifications for an A’s stadium are endless. If the Raiders are bluffing and Oakland calls their bluff the ramifications for an A’s stadium are endless. If the Raiders are bluffing and Oakland caves to the pressure, the ramifications for an A’s stadium become a little bit harder to swallow and we may be back to square one with trying to figure out how to keep both teams in Oakland in a manner that pleases both ownership groups.

This could be one heck of a year in Oakland.

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