Mayor: Oakland plan's financial terms more favorable than Vegas'

ByJim Trotter ESPN logo
Saturday, March 25, 2017

In what could be its final attempt to keep the Oakland Raiders, the city of Oakland and its partners on Friday submitted a revised financing plan for a $1.3 billion mixed-use stadium project on the same site where the team currently plays.

NFL owners are expected to vote as early as Monday on Mark Davis' application to move his franchise to Las Vegas, where city, county and state officials have pledged $750 million in public funding toward a new stadium. Davis needs at least 24 "yes" votes from the 32 owners to leave the city his franchise has called home for 45 of its 58 seasons, including each of the past 22.

"At the end of the day, this is the decision of the Raiders and the NFL," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told ESPN by phone when asked about her confidence level of retaining the Raiders. "What I am confident about is, if the Raiders want to stay in Oakland, we have a viable plan to build them a stadium with no upfront money from them, in financial terms that I believe are more favorable to them than the terms in Las Vegas -- what we know of them.

"And then, of course, we have something that Vegas can never offer, and that's legacy and loyalty. This team was born in Oakland. This team enjoys some of the most passionate and dedicated fans of any NFL franchise. Those things belong uniquely to Oakland."

Schaaf knows time and momentum are working against the city. However, she says she believes the latest financing plan -- submitted on behalf of the city, Alameda County, the Oakland City Pro Football Group and Fortress Investment Group -- adequately addresses the concerns expressed by the league in recent months, most notably the substantial presence of Fortress, a private equity firm.

The league did not like that Fortress was acting as a vendor/guarantor of things such as personal seat licenses, sponsorships and suites, so Fortress now has agreed to commit $650 million in a traditional loan, if the league and Raiders prefer. As for the remainder of the financing:

  • The city would make a $200 million commitment in infrastructure improvements, with Fortress advancing it $150 million through conveyance of up to 130 acres on the site where the stadium would be part of a mixed-use project. The $150 million would be repaid to Fortress on the back end through tax increments.
  • The Raiders and the NFL would contribute $500 million.

Under the city's plan, a new home for the Raiders would be built on a 55-acre parcel on the southern edge of where their current home sits. According to the plan, Major League Baseball'sOakland Athleticscould continue to play in Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum while a football-only venue is constructed.

The league previously expressed concerns over the A's lease, which runs through 2024. But the city doesn't believe the presence of two pro franchises is an issue, pointing out that MLB and NFL teams share similar setups in Seattle, Baltimore and Arlington, Texas.

The NFL says it is reviewing the revised financing plan.

Mayor Schaaf said she had spoken with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell twice this week, adding: "They certainly have not led me to feel unrealistically optimistic about what the results will be on Monday. But they have been fair, they have been honest and they have been responsive."

"I recognize that this could be our final chance," Schaaf said, "but we have worked so hard these last two years. We've put together a viable deal that satisfies many requirements that we believe is the best deal for the Raiders and the NFL. We hope that they give it full consideration on Monday."

NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott, a onetime Raider, is working with Schaaf's group and is among those seeking to keep the team in California.

"To rip this team away from Oakland for a second time would be heartbreaking and entirely unnecessary given that we have a viable option on the table that keeps them here and helps this community and the team grow," Lott said in a statement. "We have a sophisticated financial partner in Fortress. We have done the due diligence, and it is clear that the only fully-financed, ready-to-roll option for the Raiders is in Oakland."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.