Dr. Death addressing the Oakland City
Council earlier this year.
OAKLAND COLISEUM | Ray Perez viewed last week’s Coliseum Joint Powers Authority meeting from the back of the room. Missing was the silver and black war paint and Raiders head dress festooned with a row of foam hatchets. Otherwise, known as Dr. Death, the Sacramento native who acts as Raider Nation’s unofficial political adviser, didn’t have time to don his alter ego for 8:30 a.m. meeting to discuss the A’s controversial lease extension. Perez, like other fervent Raiders fans, continue to suspect the 10-year deal does little to help the A’s own quest for a new stadium and essentially torpedoes the Raiders desire for a new stadium at the existing Coliseum complex.
It’s not clear which entity originally fostered the conquer-and-divide tactic on A’s and Raiders fans, which in almost all cases, is the precisely the same person, but it has succeeded in causing a hysteria specifically for Raiders fan, who still harbor unspoken, but deep pain within the playbook of their minds for the team’s original sin resulting in a move to Los Angeles in 1982. Essentially the love of their lives jilted them three decades ago and after years of intense prayer, she finally came to her senses and moved back home. So, you can understand why Raiders fans are a bit protective about the thought of their long-legged, silver and black beauty resting in the arms of another city.
However, there’s more to this torrid love affair between the Raiders and their fandom. The bitch is lying to you and she’s been doing it to you for some time. In fact, she may have inadvertently let her guard down last week in the form of a letter from the attorneys representing Colony Capital, the developer who has showed interest in building the sprawling Coliseum City. A letter sent July 2 to the JPA and the City of Oakland asserts the A’s lease would greatly undermine the building a new Raiders stadium because the developer and/or the Raiders only want to build it on the exact same imprint as the current stadium. Where do the A’s go then?
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan
at a Save Oakland Sports
event last February.
More succinctly, it has not been communicated why a new football stadium cannot be constructed on another part of the large Coliseum property concurrently with the old one. Best case scenario, you start building the football stadium near Hegenberger Road, finish it, then implode the old stadium and hopefully begin work on the ballpark for the A’s near 66th Avenue. It’s not much more complicated than that, yet the Raiders insist on doing it their way. But, here’s the rub. It’s hardly appropriate for Colony and the Raiders to dictate the whole production when, as of yet, they have absolutely no financial stake in the final product.
In the meantime, it appears as if Raiders owner Mark Davis is twiddling his thumbs in hopes the whole sticky situation takes care of itself. Davis’s own upbringing as a spoiled rich child of an immensely powerful football mind with no interest in taking over the family business often evokes comparisons to the Chris Farley character in Tommy Boy. The analogy is apt and—spoiler alert!—in the end, Tommy Callahan saves the family business and keeps it in town. But, forget the Hollywood ending in Oakland because there is a growing chorus of public officials who are voicing displeasure with the Raiders inaction.
Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who helped negotiate the A’s lease deal, said Thursday, the development team featuring Colony Capital has routinely missed deadlines for the Coliseum City project and basically has not put their money where their mouth is. “Frankly, I’m outraged that anyone would try to pit these teams against one another,” said Kaplan. “We must act now to keep both the A’s and Raiders in Oakland.”
Outspoken Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid is also not one to mince words, especially when it comes to his beloved A’s and Raiders and his political rival Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Reid skewered Quan and her relationship to Colony Capital, along with her repeated prediction a term sheet for Coliseum City would be had by the end of this summer. On Thursday, Quan came out in favor of the A’s lease deal. “We’re pleased that the mayor has had a change of heart and now agrees with us,” Reid said. “But if she’s serious, is she willing to tell the Coliseum City development team to get its act together?”
Raiders owner Mark Davis:
Has the greatness of the
Raiders skipped a generation?
In addition, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, possibly the local elected official with the closest relationship to Davis is also sounding downright frustrated with Colony Capital and the Raiders. “I think the problem with the Raiders—and I’m not going to say anything bad about Mark Davis—Mark has been very genuine, very upfront, but, bottom line, they don’t have the money like Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft or the Fords. They require a large public subsidy. Maybe what the Raiders could do is get a part-owner that has a lot of money, that’s willing to put money in? But, public entities aren’t going to put in $365 million into a new stadium just for the Raiders. Ten games?
The juxtaposition between building a stadium for just 10 football games versus, say, 81 or more dates during the baseball season is comment heard with more and more regularity. It may signal that, yes, the City of Oakland and Alameda County officials have indeed begun moving toward serving the A’s before the Raiders, despite Davis’s status as the only Oakland franchise owner on record to have eyes only for Oakland.
So, while elected officials get pilloried by small-minded sportswriters for being dimwits, the reality is why should they not be discounting Colony Capital and the Raiders when they all they shown to be good at is blowing smoke? Some speculate Colony Capital believes local government is feigning the ironclad statement against using public dollars as a negotiating tactic. “The developers, Colony, they expect public agencies to come up with over $300 million,” said Haggerty. “Do you think the Board of Supervisors or the City Council is going down that road again?”
In fact, the A’s have a better shot at winning the Super Bowl than the Raiders do for receiving public financing. There is absolutely no way the taxpayers of Alameda County will tolerate building cathedrals of sport for billionaire owners. It will never happen. The A’s seem to understand the political temperature of the East Bay, the Raiders do not. However, is there another play the Raiders can call to make a stadium happen? How about bonding the team, which could possibly be worth over $1 billion? “They don’t want to do it,” said Haggerty. “They could do what the 49ers did. They could leverage the team, but Mark doesn’t want to do that.”
So, let’s review: the Raiders don’t want to find a sugar daddy part-owner and they don’t want to finance the stadium on their own like their South Bay rivals, the 49ers. Consequently, their only concrete proposal to blow up the Coliseum is the least plausible. In fact, the only place on Earth that could satisfy the Raiders demands for a massive public subsidy that would cast a large shadow over rampant poverty, poor schools and a crumbling infrastructure is Brazil. And if you think those were protests in Brazil, you never heard of Occupy Oakland.