A cat-and-mouse game and odessey that started last year when the National Football League granted the Oakland Raiders the right to officially relocate to Las Vegas, and after what the organization worked on allegedly behind the collective back of the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda for three years, comes to an end period, starting Friday, June 15th. That’s tomorrow.
After leaving the Oakland – Alameda County Coliseum JPA hanging without an answer to the question of if they were going to stay…
..The Raiders President Marc Badain, able to focus on the Oakland Coliseum Lease after a successful round of document preparations and signings for the new Las Vegas Stadium, started meeting secretly with Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority Executive Director Scott McKibben just about two months ago.
On that day at 8:30 in the morning pacific time at Oracle Arena, Mr. McKibben will present an Oakland Raiders lease extention proposal to the Coliseum Board. The design of the new agreement would have the Raiders play at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium through 2019 and with an option to extend the deal to 2020, in case the under-construction Las Vegas Stadium isn’t ready for the 2020 NFL Season.
“The Raiders like the deal, now it’s up to the Board,” McKibbem said to this blogger earlier this week. In all, McKibben has ridden a roller coaster with this matter of a lease extention. After the NFL voted 31-1 to allow the Raiders to relocate, at the 2017 NFL Annual Meeting, at least one Oakland official wanted the Silver and Black to be “kicked out” of the Coliseum. And thousands of massively angry Raiders fans, some as far away as Argentina, shared the sentiment.
Expectations that the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda would file a giant lawsuit against both the Raiders and the NFL were high, and intially, it looked like the Coliseum JPA would indeed do just that. But, after much discussion, the JPA collectively voted not to go to court against the Raiders. McKibben himself believed such an action would collectively freeze Oakland out of getting an NFL team, discounting what would happen if the Oakland officials prevailed.
Raider Nation fans were cheering for the filing, and rooting on the work of Forever Oakland, We Stand With Oakland, and Ray Bobitt, Rusself Rivera, and Griz Jones. But toward the end of the year, the talks with the JPA fizzled into hard feelings and strong words between the fan groups, and Oakland District Seven City Councilmember Larry Reid, and Oakland District Three City Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney. Bobbitt rightfully felt be had been betrayed, and was made to spend more money than he wished to, believing the JPA would pull the trigger and head to court. No.
It didn’t happen because Reid and the Oakland side of the JPA Board were certain a loss would cost the City of Oakland millions it could not afford to spend. But then the tide turned. The success of St. Louis in getting their lawsuit against the NFL advanced to the pre-trial phase, gave many shark-like, well-experienced sports business lawyers the idea that in Oakland as a client rested the promise of victory agains the NFL and the Raiders. Again, it was up to the East Bay Officials – this time on the City of Oakland side. And, again, there has been more foot-dragging – and for good reason.
I have it from a very good source that if a lawsuit had been filed, the Raiders would have stopped lease negottions, and the ability to make millions of dollars for the Coliseum before the Raiders left would go out ot the door. There are some who say that’s what should happen; that the Raiders bluff should be called, and they should take a hike. But there’s another school of thought that says “You know. We had our chance and didn’t make it happen. So let’s just get what we can get. Then, let’s plan for the Coliseum’s sports business future.”
Right now, it looks like that point of view has the lead in the City of Oakland’s thinking. The fact is, the Raiders, even by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s own statements, caused this problem of not hacving a new Coliseum Stadium as much as the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda did. But the best strategy, some others believe, is to sign the deal with the Raiders, and then reconsider the idea of a lawsuit.
Unless the Raiders manage to throw a wrench in and say “If we sign it, you can’t sue us.” That could happen. We will know more in 24 hours or less.
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media