Raiders owner Mark Davis calls Vegas move ‘bittersweet’
AP Sports Writer
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Raiders owner Mark Davis says he did everything he could to try to keep his team in Oakland and is not able to celebrate the upcoming move to Las Vegas because he’s “bittersweet” about leaving the East Bay fans.
In an interview Tuesday with the team’s flagship radio station 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area, Davis said Oakland never presented a viable plan to keep the team and that led to the decision to apply for relocation. The NFL approved the move to Las Vegas last week and the Raiders are expected to begin play there in 2020.
Davis said he thought he was close to a deal for a new stadium at the site of the Coliseum in the summer of 2013 and in ’14 but that unraveled once the Oakland Athletics were given a 10-year lease at the site.
Davis said he talked with the A’s about doing a joint deal for two stadiums at the Coliseum site and selling them 20 percent of the Raiders, but they weren’t interested.
The Raiders were denied a chance to move to the Los Angeles area in 2016 before reaching the deal in Las Vegas.
“The only people Oakland was in competition with was themselves,” Davis said. “If they could have come up with a deal that would have given us the land, either leased it or gave it to us at reasonable terms, and gave us the infrastructure, and we had the ability to find a developer to fill that funding gap, we may have been able to do something on that site. Because I do believe it is a phenomenal site.”
Davis also said the relationship with the East Bay was damaged when the Coliseum authority decided to triple the team’s rent after the proposed move to Los Angeles was blocked last winter.
Davis said he began talks with groups in Las Vegas soon after that and he committed to Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval that he wouldn’t negotiate with Oakland if the state approved the $750 million in public funding for the stadium.
“It wasn’t really a giant raise of rent and wasn’t something that would kill an organization,” he said. “It was just a disrespectful shot at us that we didn’t feel was right.”
The organization that runs the Coliseum said the city and county had been losing money under the previous deal and needed to raise the rent.
Oakland tried to put together a stadium plan with Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott and the Fortress Investment Group but Davis said the NFL had told the city not to use a third-party developer and that the uncertainty of where the A’s would play limited the options of where to put a stadium.
“We don’t have a place to build it,” Davis said. “The A’s have a 10-year lease on that property. We tried to get someone to help us build one with the A’s or build it on our own. But we don’t want to build in the corner of the parking lot. We were never going to do that. We wanted to do something that’s great and is a world-class stadium.”
Mayor Libby Schaaf told the NFL there was a 55-acre site at the Coliseum that was “shovel ready” for a new stadium and the funding was in place. She also said Fortress was willing to step aside from any part of the deal if its presence was a hindrance.