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Oakland struggles to afford an NFL team


Lost in the emerging debate regarding whether the Raiders will get a new stadium in Oakland is whether Oakland can afford to host and help build it.

Based on a lengthy new article from Darrell Preston and Aaron Kurlikoff of, the answer may be no.

Amid lots of financial discourse that we don’t understand is some stuff that we do.  A $32 million budget deficit in 2011 was closed by laying off 200 police officers, leaving in place the annual $17.3 million contribution to the operation of the Coliseum, where the Raiders and A’s play.

Beyond that story-opening tidbit, we weren’t able to process much more of the monetary explanation.  But I think I got the point:  NFL football in Oakland doesn’t seem to be working very well.

The easiest solution would be to share the San Francisco 49ers’ forthcoming stadium in Santa Clara, which actually is roughly equidistant from the two cities, at the bottom of the Bay.  But the Raiders (and more importantly their paying customers) don’t seem to be interested in being the silver-and-black-headed stepchildren in the Niners’ new home.

The hardest solution would be to find a way to build a new stadium in Oakland with public contributions.

Residing between the two local options is a return to L.A., something we’ve heard in the past the NFL won’t be inclined to allow unless and until Mark Davis sells controlling interest in the team.

The broader purpose of this protracted and not-very-profitable dance could be to let the Raiders and their fans come to the conclusion that the only way to make this work would be to share a stadium in Santa Clara.  That may be the only way to keep “Oakland” in the NFL equation.

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38 Responses to “Oakland struggles to afford an NFL team”
  1. metalhead65 says: Dec 20, 2012 9:25 AM

    because having a team in l.a. has worked out so well in the past right mike? I will be laughing again along with all the other fans who do not care that they do not have a franchise in la la land. face it you and the league office are the only people who care about that. the whole state is bankrupt and yet you want them to pay for a team to play there that fans will not care about in 10 years when they are not new anymore and especially if they are not winning. they had their chance twice and proved they do not deserve a franchise.

  2. tebowthrowsaperfectonsidekick says: Dec 20, 2012 9:32 AM

    Not only can’t they afford an NFL team, they struggle to field an NFL team.

  3. goraidersgospurs says: Dec 20, 2012 9:34 AM

    This is crazy i think I rather keep the baseball field then share with 49ers this not high school football!!!

  4. SeenThisB4 says: Dec 20, 2012 9:38 AM

    Contract the Raiders and Jaguars.

  5. raiders4life says: Dec 20, 2012 9:41 AM

    Goodell needs to take action, as MLB Commissioner Bud Selig did a year ago to Dodgers (ex) owner Frank McCourt, and force Raiders owner Mark Davis to sell the team for the betterment of the NFL and for the Raiders organization itself. Enough is enough!

  6. kingmj4891 says: Dec 20, 2012 9:50 AM

    Mark Davis has owned this team for a very short time after his father’s passing. He should be supported but the league to help out the Raiders not chastised by them because of his fathers and the NFL’s feud.

    Oakland to LA sounds good to me, but I am not an Cali guy so really I don’t care. Just sounds like Mark Daivs is getting shafted because of his fathers feud with the NFL.

  7. negativten says: Dec 20, 2012 9:50 AM

    Niner fans are’nt interested in sharing our “new house” either.
    Simple concept though,put a product on the field that is competetive (the A’s just did it,in the same house and there was standing room only)
    Secondly,create an enviroment( other than the “Raider Nation” every Sunday is halloween degenerates)that people feel safe taking there wife and kids.
    Until you do these 2 things ,it does’nt matter where the hell you play

  8. zerole00 says: Dec 20, 2012 9:51 AM

    Okay honestly, if they have to lay off more officers (in a place as dangerous as Oakland) or other public workers I just don’t see it being worth a stadium.

  9. vermonator says: Dec 20, 2012 10:01 AM

    “A return to L.A., something we’ve heard in the past the NFL won’t be inclined to allow unless and until Mark Davis sells controlling interest in the team”.

    I believe that is illegal in a free market society. A business owner and/or franchise holder has the right to do business and claim headquarters anywhere he or she wants… It’s called capitalism.

    Davis won a previous lawsuit against the NFL decades ago for the same thing. The only real chance for a new Raider home of their own is in LA, like it or not and the NFL has no real authority over the matter.

  10. joetoronto says: Dec 20, 2012 10:05 AM

    Before everybody and their brothers go crazy, you have to know that Al Davis spent every penny available every year, trying to win.

    It didn’t always work out, but the man tried, which is more than you can say for owners like Clark Hunt.

    This is the reason the Raiders net worth has been very low for many years.

    Now that it’s being run like a business, those days are gone.

  11. rickeydynamite25 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:06 AM

    Delaying the inevitable,, just move back to L.A. already and get it over with. Sorry Oaktown family, but it’s just a matter of time. Now I’ll just sit back and count all the thumbs down I’ll get for this comment.

  12. mogogo1 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:15 AM

    The only thing crazier than LA not having a team is how year after year the talk centers on how crazy it is that LA doesn’t have a team. Yet, no expansion team ever gets placed there, nobody moves there… If it’s such a no-brainer they can support a team why don’t they have one? And isn’t LA essentially just as broke as Oakland? The whole state is bankrupt.

  13. eatitfanboy says: Dec 20, 2012 10:20 AM

    I don’t know what’s harder to believe, that people are still trotting out the “the NFL has already failed twice in LA, they’ll fail again” argument, or the amount of people that agreed with it.

    All you do when you make that argument is admit that you have no clue how different the landscape of professional football is today compared to 25 years ago.

    If you make a list of what is important to franchise success in 2013, a strong, rabid, local fan base is no higher than #3. #1 is market size, #2 is a state of the art stadium with hundreds of luxury suites.

    If a strong local fan base is all a team needs, why are the Raiders in trouble? Don’t they have that?

  14. Matt says: Dec 20, 2012 10:23 AM

    The Oakland Coliseum is the perfect area for a stadium. Freeway access, parking, a BART line, and adequate seating. No other option in the Bay Area or L.A has the infrastructure that the current location has.

    It is also a mecca to fans, even though it is a fifty year old dump. I only go to games every couple of years because they are expensive and long trips. I live in Oregon at least eight hours away from the Raiders. Every time I make my beloved trip to the Coliseum, I fall in love with the Raiders all over again when I see the mural of Canseco and McGwire on the ceiling of the Coliseum South Entrance. The first sight of the shield logo on the grass is equally breathtaking. I don’t want to lose that feeling at a new stadium. I also don’t want to lose the sheer tradition that overwhelms you in the coliseum. People forget that this is where the Raiders became the Raiders.

    To me, it makes sense that the Raiders spur the historical precedent and stay in their current location. They can pool from the league’s stadium allocation ($200M) and redesign the stadium for football only, once the A’s leave. Take care of the field conditions (no more giant diamond) and maybe add some seats over the dugouts and suddenly the two biggest fan complaints are gone.

  15. randyschwimmer7 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:26 AM

    I don’t understand why the city of Oakland, or the NFL for that matter would bother putting the money up for a team that doesn’t sell out every week, and has not had a winning season for over 10 years. If they were selling out every home game no matter what, then I could see the profit in it for the owner and the city. Until that starts happening, they will be playing on a baseball field.

  16. rafterman11 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:27 AM

    Like it or not, admit it or not, the NFL not having a team in LA, one of the largest cities in the world, IS a black eye for the league.

    If a regional sport like hockey can survive in LA (and even win a championship), it is ridiculous that the NFL can’t even keep a team there.

  17. flash1283 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:31 AM

    Who cares!! Its the Raiders, dismantle the team.
    Then we wont have to see there typical white trash looking fans walking around in some faded out Tim Brown jersey!

  18. mumakata says: Dec 20, 2012 10:32 AM

    Oakland laid off 200 cops because of money problems, but makes the payment to keep an NFL team? Nice priorities, Oakland. What’s a little crime increase when you get to keep a sub-par NFL team?

  19. phatbuddha57 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:43 AM

    just come back to LA please we need a team and you need a fresh start bring back the LA RAIDERS!!!!

  20. xx4zu1 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:49 AM

    When you are laying off lay enforcement to keep playing a game in your city something is seriously wrong with your priorities. One is a game the other is life and death, especially in a town that has a history of violent crimes.

  21. jimmymcnultysbottleofjameson says: Dec 20, 2012 10:52 AM

    Even Too Short knows Oakland can’t handle this team.

  22. filthymcnasty1 says: Dec 20, 2012 10:56 AM

    The Oakland Colosseum area is perfect for a stadium if you enjoy East St. Louis and Watts.

  23. raider8er says: Dec 20, 2012 11:01 AM

    I am a fan, Bay Area native and work in the community.
    Raiders, call the Niners and share the new stadium till you rebuild your own!

  24. thejohnsmith1122 says: Dec 20, 2012 11:07 AM

    “Amid lots of financial discourse that we don’t understand is some stuff that we do. A $32 million budget deficit in 2011 was closed by laying off 200 police officers, leaving in place the annual $17.3 million contribution to the operation of the Coliseum, where the Raiders and A’s play.”

    This is poor argument or point. Name one NFL city that did not have to layoff or make budget cuts elsewhere. Also, I’m sure although the Raiders aren’t selling out, they’re helping bring in more than the $17.3 million the city “contributes” in taxes, sales, tourism, so in the end it’s a win for the city anyways.

    NFL cities has to look at it in the long run. This team or any other team, will bring in revenue that outweighs the cost of helping them build the new stadium.

    “mumakata says:
    Dec 20, 2012 10:32 AM
    Oakland laid off 200 cops because of money problems, but makes the payment to keep an NFL team? Nice priorities, Oakland. What’s a little crime increase when you get to keep a sub-par NFL team?”

    I bet they would’ve had to lay off a few more if it wasn’t for the other millions of dollars the Raiders bring in to the city.

  25. metalhead65 says: Dec 20, 2012 12:00 PM

    nobody but florio and the league office cares about there not being a team in l.a. they had 2 chances to support a team and wouldn’t so screw screw them!

  26. radrntn says: Dec 20, 2012 12:05 PM

    So I guess based on your blog, what you are really saying is San Francisco could not afford top keep the 49ers. as well.

    My only question is will they be called the Santa Clara 49ers or the San Jose 49ers?

  27. psilenttype says: Dec 20, 2012 12:26 PM

    Didn’t the Raiders already miss their chance to share the stadium with the Niners?

    The Niners have sold a bunch of the luxury suites which means the if the raiders decide to join they’ll really be treated like step kids

  28. cliverush says: Dec 20, 2012 12:53 PM

    The solution for keeping the team in Oakland is not public money but private equity. The amount of money in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley is greater than numerous other NFL markets. A Pirate style theme park along side the stadium could help offset cost. Going to the state with your hand out is not going to work.

  29. deathspiralx says: Dec 20, 2012 1:43 PM

    Common sense says the simplest solution is to share with the 49ers.

  30. thepragmaticcowboy says: Dec 20, 2012 2:01 PM

    “…the San Francisco 49ers’ forthcoming stadium in Santa Clara, which actually is roughly equidistant from the two cities, at the bottom of the Bay.”

    They’re building a stadium underwater? SWEET!

  31. bayarea510 says: Dec 20, 2012 3:11 PM

    All the Raiders need to do is put a competitive team on the field. Guess what, the Raiders sold out every game last year going 8-8. If you put a competitive team out there the fans will come. Moving to LA isn’t going to help the Raiders if they continue to suck on the field.

    To be honest I wouldn’t care if the Raiders and 49ers shared. The two fan bases would never come in contact with eachother so really who cares? The Giants and Jet fans handle it just fine, so why can’t the 49ers and Raiders do it too?

  32. jrcthree says: Dec 20, 2012 3:44 PM

    Here’s what I suggest: instead of going to Santa Clara, just have the 49ers play at the oCo for couple of years sharing with the Raiders while they wait to renovate the Candlestick Park. When the 49ers’s stadium is ready, have the Raiders move to the Candlestick Park while they wait for their oCo to finish their renovation project.

    Then, they both have their own home.

  33. tdk24 says: Dec 20, 2012 4:09 PM

    Forcing a team to sell if it’s going to go to L.A. is complete BS. I bet if Mark wanted to move there, he could sue the NFL and win.

  34. peoplesrepublic0fdabayarea says: Dec 20, 2012 4:12 PM

    relegate them to the CFL

  35. sagatti says: Dec 20, 2012 5:43 PM

    Please come back to LA so I can watch my BRONCOS spank you here at home like used to in the 80’s…..

  36. war27 says: Dec 20, 2012 6:08 PM

    What ever happened with the rumors of the Raiders moving to San Antonio TX or even Vegas for that matter?

  37. cfrylopez says: Dec 20, 2012 10:37 PM

    Of course I am bias, but the article really didn’t examine how much $ is made by parking, BART, the AirPort, business like the Moose Lodge makes $ during Raiders games. The AirPort Business Association wants the teams to stAy so there must be a business advantage to having the Raiders, A’s & Warriors in the area. We all know that Oakland and the Raiders used a bad business model in 1994-95 when the Raiders returned. The Raiders & Don Perta( I believe Oakland City Council President at the time) made the business model. This time Oakland hired JMI the company that did the business model & development for the Cowboys, Colts and Brooklyn Net stadiums. Oakland has the unique resource of having BART, The AirPort and Train Rail next to the stadiums and 750 acres of redevelopment land. And Oakland has always underutilized this resource. If it is done right a lot of people believe it can make the city & the teams lots of $. The article has a little anti-Oakland sentiment.
    According Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana assert that despite the city’s reputation for lofty, failed financial recovery ideas, this time they have a strong five-year plan, based on projections that reflect what the economy has done in the past, instead of projections about the future. And the city has an $83 million general fund reserve, of which $30 million is available for things like police services and roads repairs.
    “Businesses, city leaders say in Oakland, economy is rebounding”
    This was the first year Oakland has balanced its budget in years and probably one of the only major cities in California to balance its budget. More anti-Raider and anti-Oakland propaganda.

  38. rchapstick says: Dec 22, 2012 2:41 PM

    First, everyone seems to make the mistake in assuming Mark Davis owns the team. He does not. His mother, Carol Davis, owns controlling interest the team and Mark is just the owners’ representative.

    When Mrs. Davis passes, Mark is going to owe some major inheritance taxes, and as he appears to have no other sources of wealth, this could likely drive him to sell.

    The two competing stadium project in LA both seem to have it as a precondition that a moving franchise must sell a significant, if not controlling, stake of the team. So a move to LA likely means a sale.

    Mark’s only chance of keeping the team would appear to be to move to Santa Clara, and to leverage his future ownership stake to pay the taxes. For all we know, he may or may not be interested in owning the Raiders once his mother passes.

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