Posted December 29, 2015
Rachel Swan - San Francisco Chronicle
Oakland faces a Wednesday deadline to give the NFL a financing plan for a new Raiders football stadium, but city officials, who have repeatedly said they won’t stick taxpayers with the bill, indicated Monday that no plan is forthcoming.
Instead, Oakland will send a letter to league officials simply updating them on the city’s efforts to persuade the Raiders to stay in town, said Claudia Cappio, Oakland’s assistant city administrator.
NFL officials have said they wanted rock-solid proposals from Oakland and two other cities — St. Louis and San Diego — before the owners vote in January on which team or team or teams move to the Los Angeles market. League CommissionerRoger Goodell imposed the Dec. 30 deadline in the hope that each city would dangle a large public subsidy to entice its team to stay.
So far, Oakland hasn’t cooperated. An NFL source who did not want to be quoted said Monday that without a plan, Oakland’s letter would fall short of the league’s demand. It’s unclear what the repercussions might be.
Mayor Libby Schaaf has long insisted that no taxpayer money be spent on a new football stadium. Both Oakland and Alameda County are still wallowing in debt from a massive overhaul of the Coliseum’s east end in 1996. Together, they pay $22 million a year to retire what remains of that debt — some $100 million.
Raiders owner Mark Davis recoils at Schaaf’s insistence at spending no more taxpayer money on football and wants the city to revive an offer he heard from Schaaf’s predecessor, Jean Quan: 169 acres of free land at the Coliseum site.
“In 2013, the city and county made a presentation that would give us the land,” Davis said Monday, adding that negotiations for the team to stay in Oakland have gridlocked. The 169 acres “is the starting point for us, absolutely.”
The Coliseum land belongs to Oakland and Alameda County, but the city is in talks to buy the county’s share.
City officials said they have shared a copy of their NFL letter with Davis but have not released it to the public.
Schaaf, meanwhile, is contemplating a $1 billion football stadium construction plan that would leave the Raiders responsible for all but $90 million to $120 million of the funding. That’s what the city would kick in for infrastructure improvements, like roadway realignment, possibly from future property taxes.
In November, Schaaf floated the idea of issuing lease revenue bonds to fund about half the construction costs for such a stadium. The bonds would be secured by a private backer and repaid with money generated by leasing the stadium to the Raiders, Schaaf told The Chronicle on Monday.
The Raiders and the NFL have said they would pay for half of construction costs.
But covering the rest through the lease plan doesn’t sit well with Davis, who has long appealed for public subsidies.
“What they’re asking us to do is use revenues that the team would normally get,” he said. “We need those revenues to help pay off the $500 million that we’ve discussed contributing.”
Davis is also sparring with city officials over what a future Coliseum development would look like and who it would serve. Oakland has long wanted to turn the land into a “Coliseum City” retail corridor filled with hotels and offices that would generate tax revenue for the city.
Davis, by contrast, wants a giant parking lot for tailgating.
“What’s being proposed is the Raiders build a stadium on a little corner of parking lot on a 60-acre site,” he said.
So far, no plan exists, and even the bond financing idea is tentative.
“We have not committed to any bonds,” Schaaf said in a text message.
Davis believes that Oakland officials are waiting to see if the NFL’s 32 team owners voting in January will approve his bid to move to the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, where the Raiders would share a $1.7 billion stadium with the San Diego Chargers.
If Davis doesn’t get the 24 votes he needs for the move, then Oakland will have the upper hand when the two sides go back to the bargaining table next year.
In the meantime, Oakland is also pursuing talks with the A’s, who also want a new ballpark.
The city recently proposed 10 new sites for the A’s, five of which seem workable, according to Oakland officials. Among them are the West Oakland Post Office, fields at Laney and Peralta colleges, the Howard Terminal port site near Jack London Square, and a waterfront development east of there at Brooklyn Basin.
Four of those sites are in the downtown area, where Schaaf told reporters in November that she hopes the A’s move.