- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The (Put the Name of Your Favorite City Here) Raiders have explored more territory than Lewis and Clark and shown about the same inclination to settle. Los Angeles, Sacramento and Irwindale, Calif., all have been investigated and found wanting. Now Oakland, which seemed to have landed the Raiders last month with a 15-year deal worth $602 million in cash, stadium improvements and guaranteed ticket, luxury box and stadium club income (SCORECARD, March 26), has decided to back away from its offer. The Anytown Raiders can once again consult the world atlas and consider parts unknown.
The Oakland deal died on April 17, when the city council voted 6-0 to cancel it. Local residents had complained that a city short of funds for education, housing and other social needs ought not to be pledging millions to a team that had deserted them in 1982. Some 31,072 registered voters signed a petition to have the deal put to a referendum in November; by city law, only 19,716 signatures were needed to place the matter on the ballot.
Mayor Lionel Wilson, a strong booster of the Raider deal, called the $602 million figure misleading. He said that renovations to Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum would be needed even if the Raiders didn't move back. He also contended that the Raiders would take in more than enough revenue to cover the $416.8 million in ticket guarantees. Yet even after Wilson had the ticket guarantees scaled back to $242.8 million, opponents still said the city was guaranteeing near sellouts with tickets that were scaled impossibly high (cheapest seat: $30).
City Councilman Wilson Riles Jr., a main rival in the upcoming June mayoral primary, was making political hay by attacking the deal, so Wilson finally agreed it should be scrapped. Wilson believes that Oakland still has a 50-50 chance of getting the Raiders back under reduced terms. He says Raider managing general partner Al Davis wants to bring his team back, and, indeed, Raider cognoscenti have speculated that Davis thinks the Raiders must return to their blue-collar roots to excel again.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, is trying to keep the Raiders. Spectacor, which manages the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, where the Raiders play, is making plans to renovate the stadium and build Davis the club boxes and luxury suites he has asked for. The city is said to be willing to give him as much as $30 million in cash and make long-term guarantees on ticket revenue.
By last week, more than 40,000 Bay Area fans had sent in deposits for Oakland Raider season tickets. At Ricky's Lounge in nearby San Leandro, owner Ricky Ricardo Jr. vows to keep his WELCOME HOME RAIDERS sign up until a final decision on the team is made. Ricardo has even placed a director's chair in the entrance of the bar with a sign on it: RESERVED FOR AL DAVIS. Like all those expensive stadium seats, that one remains empty.