The Oakland Raiders announced they have signed a one-year lease to stay in Oakland. The lease for the 2016 season also includes options to renew for the 2017 and the 2018 seasons. At the very least, this news means the Raiders will in fact be in Oakland for the 2016 season (which everyone assumed already), but also means that if the Raiders are unable to get a stadium plan in place next season, they won’t have to go through another set of negotiations to extend the lease a year from now.
And while that is all significant news, it’s not the most significant thing we learned from the lease extension press conference. In addition to announcing the lease, the Raiders and owner Mark Davis made a significant announcement and a significant proclamation with regards to the potential to build a new stadium in Oakland.
The Raiders revealed that they have hired Larry MacNeil to be a part of their stadium building efforts in Oakland. For those unfamiliar with MacNeil, he was the Chief Financial Officer of the San Francisco 49ers for a decade. One of his biggest and most notable responsibilities as the CFO was overseeing the Levi’s Stadium project. While Levi’s leaves a lot to desire from a fan standpoint (that damned sun) and from a player’s standpoint (terrible turf), from a financial perspective it’s a smashing success. The Niners were not only able to find enough funding to get the massive project done, they also produced a cash cow for the franchise.
Think of MacNeil as the Bob Iger of the Oakland stadium project. Iger was brought into the Carson project to be a leader on the business side of things. The Raiders and Chargers felt they needed a big name to help them in their efforts with Carson and Iger was it. There has been no such name in Northern California aside from Floyd Kephart, but he failed to get anything done. With MacNeil, the Raiders add a significant name who’s very familiar with how business is done in the Bay Area. It’s a sign that Davis and the Raiders may finally be ready to sit down and look at Oakland with a fine-tooth comb.
The other big news to come from the press conference was Mark Davis calling out his MLB counterpart in the Oakland Athletics. As Davis so aptly noted, the elephant in the room (no pun intended) regarding the Coliseum location is and always has been the A’s. The MLB team signed a 10-year lease which significantly hinders the ability of the Raiders to get a deal done in Oakland. If the Raiders wanted to simply refurbish the Coliseum, they cannot do so while the A’s are using it and also cannot do so unless the A’s find a new home, because a multi-sport venue is no longer acceptable.
The other issue is that Davis does not want to build a new stadium in the parking lot, only to get finished, unveil a beautiful new home for the Raiders, then have the A’s start tearing down the Coliseum to build a new stadium at that moment. It would significantly detract from the shiny new toy that the Raiders would have put millions and years into building. While it may seem like a small annoyance to many, I can understand why Davis would not want to unveil a brand new stadium only to have it be surrounded by ugly and loud construction.
As a result, Davis called out the A’s and said they need to make up their minds on what their future holds. This is significant, not because it’s new and surprising information, but because it’s information the Raiders previously never even bothered to discuss. That they are publicly talking about the issues in Oakland, including the A’s, may be a sign that the team is finally serious about making an effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland.