Goodell Tells Oakland the Raiders Will Likely Move After City Submits Non-Viable Solution to Keep Franchise
When casino mogul Sheldon Adelson backed out of the Oakland Raiders movement to Las Vegas over disagreements with Mark Davis and the team, the move seemed dead. That was Oakland’s chance to save the team. All they had to do was find a way to comply with the NFL’s long list of demands while keeping taxpayers happy (although I’m sure the citizens wouldn’t mind paying a little extra to keep the Black and Silver in place).
Now, it looks like the Raiders have all but physically moved to Las Vegas after the city submitted a poorly drafted proposal to the NFL on how to keep the team in place.
Roger Goodell didn’t appreciate the offer. The NFL commissioner replied to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf only hours after the city and its partners finalized their proposal. Goodell penned back saying, in effect, “No thanks.”
“The material that we reviewed earlier today…confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in a reasonable time,” wrote Goodell in his letter to Mayor Schaaf. “And in that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable time frame, and free of major contingencies.”
The Raiders, who have played 45 of the franchise’s 58 seasons in Oakland including the past 22 after a decade in Los Angeles, have ramped up efforts to move to Vegas this offseason on the heels of the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers relocating to Los Angeles over this offseason and last. While Mayor Schaaf, the Oakland City Pro Football Group, and Fortress Investment Group felt they adequately addressed the league’s previous concerns, Goodell seems ready to throw it up to an owner’s vote, noting he expects the motion to pass.
“I think we will have a vote, and I think we will have a positive vote. I think we are in pretty good shape,” noted Goodell.
Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy commented that he also expects to see the Raiders bid to relocate pass.
“I think there will be some discussion, particularly about Las Vegas as a market,” said Murphy. “I think it’s the 40th-biggest city in the country, and you’re leaving Oakland, which is obviously a much larger market. So, I think there will be some discussion, but I anticipate it will pass.”
I’m not 100 percent sure what pissed off Goodell so much. The deal seemed plausible. The new deal changed Fortress’s $650 million commitment to a traditional loan, as the league didn’t like the idea of Fortress acting as a guarantor of seat licenses and sponsorships. The city agreed to $200 million in infrastructure improvements with $150 million coming from Fortress to be paid back through taxes. The Raiders and league would put up an additional $500 million.
The deal also specified that the city’s MLB franchise, the Oakland Athletics, would continue to play at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum while a football-only stadium is constructed. The NFL is having none of that, calling the mayor our specifically for the city’s overarching commitment to the baseball team.
“We have been prepared for nearly two years to work on finding a solution based on access to land at a certain cost, without constraints on the location of the stadium or timing of construction, and clarity on overall development,” continued Goodell. “However, at this date, there remains no certainty regarding how the site will be fully developed or the specific and contractually defined nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties. In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A’s remains a significant complication, and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed. Despite all of these efforts, ours and yours, we have not yet identified a viable solution. It is disappointing to me and our clubs to have come to that conclusion.”
As the Packers CEO noted, while the city itself and the market is important, the stadium deal is the end-all in these discussions. The NFL won’t even consider keeping a team in place if the city isn’t willing to cough up some of those dollars the franchise helps them make for a glamourous stadium.
“The league has done some preliminary analysis, and I’m anxious to see some of their more final thoughts on it,” said Murphy. “It’s a growing market. It’s entertainment based. It’s obviously a lot of visitors. There are some positives. Also, some of the studies of how it’s going to grow over the years are encouraging. The biggest issue, quite honestly, in both Oakland and San Diego, both teams were unable to get stadium deals.”
San Diego gave the league many of the same problems. The Chargers opted to play out of a 20,000-capacity arena instead of staying in San Diego. Hopefully, the Raiders will have a bit of a better situation their first few seasons in Vegas.