After Tuesday’s developments at the NFL owners’ gathering in Houston, it’s now official that the Raiders won’t be moving south to become partners with the Chargers at a stadium in Carson.
But instead of being a relief for devoted Bay Area fans of the team, it’s just the beginning of another chapter of uncertainty.
While long-suffering faithful followers should be allowed to focus on the promise that 2015 brought on the field – with the emergence of talents such as Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper – they still have to live with the fact that those standouts could sooner or later be playing in San Antonio, Portland, Los Angeles, St. Louis or San Diego.
Still, they’ll be forced to wait for the other cleat to drop while also hoping that general manager Reggie McKenzie can make some smart moves this offseason in the draft and free agency that will add more playmakers, depth and the chances to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2002 season.
A story by Cork Gaines of Yahoo! Finance late Tuesday night noted that the Raiders could be playing in San Antonio, Texas, by as soon as the 2016 season. The Alamodome could serve as a temporary home, he wrote, while the team builds a new facility. And San Antonio and the Raiders have been linked in the past. A Bleacher Report story also reported that the Raiders already have secured a site in the Austin/San Antonio area for a potential stadium.
Raiders owner Mark Davis reportedly will receive $100 million from the NFL to help with stadium plans in Oakland or another Bay Area site, but Davis noted that with the team’s lease at O.co Coliseum expiring soon, there’s no guarantee where the team will play this season or beyond.
"We’ll see where the Raider Nation ends up here," Davis told reporters. "We’re looking for a home. I don’t know where we’ll be. My lease at the Coliseum is expired. … America, the world, is (a) possibility."
Meanwhile, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, "This is where they belong for the long haul."
Schaaf has not yet talked to Davis but said she plans to shortly. And when they do – they’ll need to talk money.
It’ll cost about a billion dollars to build a new stadium on the Coliseum grounds. The city is willing to kick in about $90 million for infrastructure, Schaaf said, with the NFL and Raiders contributing an additional $600 million dollars.
That still leaves the project about $300 million, but Schaaf said that taxpayer money won’t be used to fill the gap.
"We could help the teams monetize future payments up front, so they can use it for stadium construction," she said.
For his part, Scott McKibben, with the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority, said, "My guess is the Raiders will engage in conversations with Oakland and with other markets."
The group is in charge of negotiating the team's current lease at o.Co, which expires Feb. 17. McKibben said Davis has told him he wants to stay in Oakland. But, at the end of the day, business is business.
"He's a smart businessman and he'll probably look at some other opportunities and do some comparison shopping," McKibben said. "And we expect that."
So, for the next few months Raiders fans will have to fret over the latest rumors and political maneuvering in Oakland and other cities when they’d rather be speculating about the Raiders’ top draft pick, the status of unrestricted free agents such as Donald Penn and Marquette King and whether McKenzie can keep the franchise moving forward.
The Rams’ future is now set, with a move to Inglewood in the Los Angeles area approved. But the future forecast for the Chargers and Raiders remains cloudy. Options have been built into the deal that would allow one of those franchises to be a future tenant with the Rams in their new home.
As a headline over a story on the website Deadspin noted Wednesday morning, "The torture isn’t over yet for Chargers and Raiders fans."