Raiders secure return to Oakland for 2016 season
San Francisco (AFP)
After weeks of uncertainty, the Oakland Raiders have secured a return to their home stadium for the 2016 NFL season, but a long-term solution in a new venue remains elusive.
Raiders owner Mark Davis signed a one-year lease extension to play at O.co Coliseum, the team's home since moving back to the San Francisco bay area from Los Angeles in 1995.
The deal includes two option years for the Raiders that could tie the club to the 56,000-seat venue, which was built in 1966 and is the only stadium that is shared by NFL and Major League Baseball clubs.
Just because the Raiders have the option to stay in the half-century-old stadium beyond next season does not ensure they will.
The Raiders are waiting for the San Diego Chargers to make a decision on whether or not they will join the Rams in a new Los Angeles stadium project after the club's move from St. Louis. The Chargers, who will play next season in San Diego, have nearly a year to decide. Should they say no, the Raiders will have a year to decide if they want to share the LA stadium with the Rams.
Other places have wooed the Raiders as well, notably San Antonio, and St. Louis could assemble a new stadium deal to try and lure the NFL back to their Midwestern market.
The Raiders have hired consultant Larry MacNeil, chief financial officer of the San Francisco 49ers for 10 years, to represent the Raiders in negotiations with the city and county on a new Oakland stadium.
MacNeil played a key role in sparking the building of the 49ers' new stadium in Santa Clara that hosted the Super Bowl last weekend.
Davis blamed baseball's Oakland A's for delaying progress on a new stadium, the club having signed a 10-year lease in 2014.
"There's an elephant in the room and that's the Oakland A's," Davis said. "They have to make a commitment to what they want to do."
Davis said the A's lease "tied our hands behind our back. Now it's up to the A's to make a declaration of what they want to do. If they don't do that, I don't see how we can make a deal."
The A's want to build a new stadium in the parking lot of their current home but the Raiders say that parking area is a key part of their fans' enjoyment.
"We like the game day experience of tailgating on that parking lot," Davis said. "We don't want to give that up."
The A's said in a statement that the Raiders new deal "does not change the Oakland A's goal of securing a baseball-only facility. We are aggressively working with the city of Oakland and relevant stakeholders to evaluate venue sites."
© 2016 AFP