NFL

Who’s to blame for Oakland’s failure to present a viable stadium plan for the Raiders?

This question is a hot topic among fans of the Raiders who want them to stay in Oakland.

NFL owners met in Chicago on Tuesday to hear from the Raiders, San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams on their respective stadium plans for Carson and Inglewood. The meetings were held behind closed doors and for the most part, the owners respected that fact and said very little about the presentations. The one interesting tidbit from the meetings came from NFL executive Eric Grubman rather than an owner.

Grubman, the man at the NFL who is in charge of the Los Angeles stadium issue, had this to say about the situation in Oakland:

“The facts on the ground are that there’s been no viable proposal to the Raiders.”

But why is there no viable plan in Oakland? While St. Louis is putting together an impressive offer and San Diego is pushing for a special ballot to get the ball rolling on their own bid, the situation in Oakland looks more like a finger-pointing contest than an effort to get things moving. And that’s part of the problem — unlike the other stadium efforts, Oakland’s has more moving parts and more political issues surrounding it.

For starters, there are two government entities the team must deal with due to the joint ownership of the current Coliseum property: the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda. Then there’s the fact that the Raiders technically still owe money on the upgrades made to the stadium the last time the team moved back to Oakland. Unfortunately, the biggest mistake made in the entire process may have been made in an effort to simplify a complicated situation.

The City of Oakland and County of Alameda signed an agreement with San Diego developer Floyd Kephart to allow him to be the exclusive negotiator on their behalf for the Coliseum City project. Theoretically, this allowed the two entities to speak as one voice and have one person leading the charge.

Here’s the problem … Kephart simply hasn’t produced. His plan for Coliseum City was lacking in the single most important department: funding. Kephart suggested Mark Davis sell part of the team in order to cover some funding, but failed to specify from where the rest of the money would come. Meanwhile, in Carson, one of the biggest financial heavyweights in the country, Goldman Sachs, has already stepped up to the plate and said they would provide a significant portion of the funding for a stadium down there.

So, who’s at fault for the debacle in Oakland? There’s plenty of blame to go around. I can’t blame Oakland Mayor Libby Shaaf for her determined stance that public money will not be used to fund the stadium. It’s absurd to think a city like Oakland, which has plenty of areas where money should be spent, should be funding a stadium for millionaires to make more money. That being said, the decision to contract with Floyd Kephart, a guy who many warned was not going to be good for the success of this project, was a huge miscalculation on the part of Oakland. Because yes, Kephart is also to blame for a process that has taken forever and produced very little. So little that the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Oakland may not even get an invite to talk to the NFL when St. Louis and San Diego get their chance to pitch the league on why their teams should be forced to stay.

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