Latest Raiders Stadium Plan Unlikely to Be Accepted by Anyone Who Matters

So Oakland and Alameda County played their respective aces, offering up a loosely constructed $1.3 billion plan to build a new football-only stadium for the Oakland-Until-Further-Notice Raiders.
Now they have to see if they can make those aces look more to Davis and the NFL like jacks and less like an unsuited trey-nine. And, more to the point, whether they should want to.
The latest bit of inventory from this shoe store avalanche is the stadium plan the city and county voted to attempt to present to the 32 NFL owners (Davis included), one which most people expect to be rejected in its current form – Davis because he’s given no indication he wants to hear anything Oakland has to say, and the NFL because it has significant reservations about the Fortress Group, the money people holding up Ronnie Lott as their human shield.
That would under normal circumstances be as effective as St. Louis’ 2015 stadium funding plan to keep the Rams out of Los Angeles. But every city is different, every beneficiary is different, every vote is different . . .
. . . and every act of grandstanding is different.
The city and county did this as a matter of course, to show their constituents that they’re putting their best face forward as regards to saving a team that doesn’t want to be saved. So no, they don’t expect this to be accepted by the NFL, or even reviewed by Davis. They just want to say they did something more than tell them to get off the lawn.
The problem, of course, is that while the Oakland plan is probably insufficient to please anyone in the football business, and maybe even a lot of people in the local political business, the Las Vegas plan Davis clearly and loudly prefers contains its own drawbacks.
Market size, and Sheldon Adelson.
Las Vegas is a much smaller market, and there are concerns that it cannot be self-sustaining on a fan base that will have to be heavily augmented by fans flying in from Oakland and Los Angeles.
Adelson, the billionaire who pledged an alleged $650 million to the Las Vegas stadium, which is allegedly going to run $1.9 billion (and when we say “alleged” and “allegedly,” we mean “alleged” and “allegedly”), has balked about going forward, and the NFL isn’t crazy about doing business with him anyway.
So why just cut Adelson out and simplify the process, you ask? Because nothing happens in Las Vegas without Adelson’s knowledge and/or approval, and he can kill any deal anyone wants to make if he so chooses.
Which brings us back to Oakland. If either the NFL spurns Las Vegas or Adelson decides to get pushy, Davis must return to Oakland devoid of leverage save whatever the city and county decide to grant him – and let’s be honest here, politicians talk leverage a lot more than they actually wield it, so caving like invertebrate cowards is not out of the question.
This stadium proposal, uninspiring though it might be, is the latest lurch in this oft-twisted journey, and is unlikely in any event to meet with the approval of anyone who truly matters . . . including, might we add, the Athletics, who have been hoping that the departure of the Raiders would leave them free and clear to pursue their civic-approved stadium dreams.
And at a time when the procedures for solving this billionaire-induced nightmare should be clear, it becomes murkier yet.
Oakland and Alameda County shouldn’t be in the stadium business to begin with, which is why the original idea to sell the Coliseum land and just collected taxes from the buyer forever was the only sane plan to attempt. But this plan only lessens the impact of the essential error, which is trying to do business with people who are way richer, way more lawyered and way less interested in anyone’s interests save their own. In short, in dealing with the Raiders and the league, the city and county are clearly out of theirs.
But they’re choosing an empty gesture for political reasons that could backfire on them if it is accepted.
Yes, accepted. They’ll be dealing with an owner in Mark Davis who will regard staying in Oakland as another personal defeat in a series of them. They’ll be dealing with a league (and a business strategy, actually) that regards citizens’ money as their own and promises as one-way streets. And they will have spent $350 million of public money on a plan that at in its current form can best be called a speculative mess, and at worst the opening gambit in a deal that will hammer the city and county in the same ways that Mount Davis did two decades ago.
And who doesn’t think that was a great idea – other than everyone ever?

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