Last night I wrote a story regarding Oakland Mayor Libby Schaf and the threat that sources told me that she posed privately to "force the Raiders out" of the Oakland Coliseum should the NFL agree to let the Raiders relocate to Las Vegas. Per my sources, Schaf was so incensed that she told people she would "kick the Raiders out of O.co Coliseum." While she technically doesn't have the power to do that, there are provisions that would allow the Mayor Schaf (and Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Authority) to break the lease that the Raiders have options that they control for the next 2 years. Per my source, Schaf did not believe the State of Nevada would agree to fund $750 million dollars on top of hotel mogul Sheldon Adelson's $650 million dollars, bringing the total to $1.45 billion dollars between Adelson and the state for the projected $1.9 billion dollar stadium. My source told me when Mayor Schaf found out about the funding she " **** the bed. She was totally in denial that would happen up until it actually did." He went on to say "She thought that Nevada was not going to pass it and she would continue to what she has been doing since she got into office, say one thing publicly and do another privately." Later that day at her state of the city address, she mentioned the professional teams in Oakland, except the Raiders and introduced Marshawn Lynch, an Oakland native, as "former NBA player..."
While it is unclear if Schaf can convince the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Authority to use their power to force the Raiders out should they get the NFL's approval to move, as some have learned recently, in politics, anything can (and does) happen. It appears she values the Oakland A's (like she was quoted saying) and the 81 games a year they play at the Coliseum more then the Raiders.
The Raiders know about the threat and have started to make contingency plans. They are working with UNLV to potentially play at Sam Boyd starting in 2017. Sam Boyd Stadium already was going to expand the locker rooms to fit the Raiders and another NFL (since the Raiders agreed to play a preseason game there) and are working towards expanding the stadium up to 45,000 in capacity.
But how did the relationship get so bad between Mayor Schaf and Raiders owner Mark Davis? I was told by sources that in 2014, one of the first orders of business for Mayor Schaf was to tell Davis she would not honor an agreement for a new lease that former Mayor Quan had agreed to. At that time, my sources said "Mr. Davis decided that he needed to find the best place for the Raiders to play going forward and put the team in the best financial situation possible." Davis started to look around at Los Angeles, San Antonio and Las Vegas as possible destinations for the Raiders. The NFL had no intention of allowing the Raiders to get into Los Angeles for a variety of reasons, mainly the Raiders would over shadow Stan Kroenke's Rams, who were also attempting to move to LA at that time. Kroenke had bought the Hollywood Park land and was going to build his new palace which would include the NFL Network's new studios.
The NFL used Carson to try and strong arm the cities of Oakland and San Diego for stadiums for both franchise and to me was a farce from the beginning. The NFL won't look a gift horse in the mouth and Kroenke was/is willing to build that horse. The Chargers were selected to be the second team to move to LA if San Diego didn't build a new stadium. The Chargers have a measure on the November ballot that would potentially give them a new stadium. But the Mark Davis already had his eyes set on Las Vegas. and met with Las Vegas officials privately and was working on a potential plan to bring the Raiders to Vegas. After it was announced that the Raiders "finished 3rd" in the race to LA, Davis turned his sights solely on Las Vegas and started to build his new business relationship with Adelson. In September the Southern Nevada Tourism and Infrastructure Committee (SNTIC) voted unanimously to move the bill onto the Nevada legislature and on October 14th, Nevada approved the funding for the stadium that would be home to the Raiders and UNLV football team.
Mark Davis has since changed or lessoned his stance on staying the 2 extra years in Oakland should they be approved for relocation for the first time since training camp. Mr. Davis told Ed Graney of the Review Journal at the NFL Owners meetings earlier this week that
“I wouldn’t say no to anything,” Davis said. “(Sam Boyd Stadium) is nice. I don’t know if it could (work) or not. I don’t want to answer that right now. It will be great for preseason games, and we’ll see what happens.
“The commitment is there to (stay in Oakland for two years) if we want to take it. I think it’s best for our players and their families to have that stability. It would give their families a chance to get to (Las Vegas) in the offseason and look around and not be rushed into the move.
“I really don’t think we need a scorched earth policy in terms of (leaving Oakland). The Raiders fans are the best in the world, and I know some are hurting and angry right now. But there are a lot of them that know we tried everything we could to get something done there.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at his press conference to conclude the owners meetings supported Davis' assertion there has been no movement toward keeping the franchise in the Bay Area, saying "we have been working to see if there are alternatives and we don't have one" in Oakland. He went on to say "There's still a great deal of information that we need to gather with respect to the circumstances we see in Las Vegas, the opportunities and also the challenges." Goodell added "Those are the things we'll look at through the committee, and report back to them maybe as early as December, but more likely later than that." He also said that the NFL is working with Oakland and that there is the possibility to purchase and develop a stadium with the city, the league isn't in the business to build stadiums, they have owners that do that for a living.
Davis plans on applying for relocation to Las Vegas in January at the league meetings and a vote is expected between March 26th-29th in Phoenix, AZ at a league meting. Davis needs 23 more votes, but has the support of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Rams owner Kroenke and others. I spoke to NFL sources on Wednesday and they said they expect a vote with 28 owners voting to approve, 2 against and 2 abstaining. They went on to say that "if a vote took place today, the Raiders would be in Vegas, but we want to hear Mark's proposal and drill down into his deal with Adelson and a few other questions."
Where does this leave Oakland? The city is continuing to talk with the NFL (and not the Raiders) and want to have a proposal done around the time of Thanksgiving according to NFL sources that will be centered around NFL Hall of Fame Safety Ronnie Lott and his investment group. It is also important to point out that Mark Davis will NOT be selling any portion of the Raiders to keep them in Oakland, move them to Las Vegas or build a stadium in either location.
Vegas and the State of Nevada has stepped up and put their money where their mouth is. Since January more has gotten accomplished in attempting to bring the Raiders to Las Vegas then in the 22 years of the team returning to Oakland. If actions speak louder then words, Las Vegas is screaming for the Raiders and Mark Davis to come to the Silver State while in Oakland it is resounding silence.