As the Oakland Raiders zero in on a site for their new Las Vegas stadium, Oakland officials are debating the city’s short-term relationship with the team.
On Monday, the NFL approved the relocation of the Raiders to Las Vegas, where they will begin playing in a new stadium in 2020. The team holds options on its current home, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority officials have indicated to USA Today that they have little interest in extending the relationship beyond 2018, and some are questioning whether the Raiders should stick around for 2017 and 2018. Oakland city council president and authority board member Larry Reid has asked lawyers to review the lease to see if it possible to bar the team from exercising its options, forcing them out of the Coliseum sooner than expected. While Reid believes that the team did not engage with the city in stadium discussions, keeping the Raiders out of the Coliseum could be a tough task, as the Raiders have already given a written notice of their desire to exercise the options. More from the East Bay Times:
While Mayor Libby Schaaf on Tuesday said the city wasn’t going to fight the team’s move, Council President Larry Reid has made it clear he does not want the team to play in Oakland while it builds its new stadium in Las Vegas.
The Raiders’ current lease, approved in early 2016, gives the team the option of playing the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons at the Coliseum. The team on Tuesday sent [authority board executive director Scott] McKibben a written request to play next season in Oakland, ahead of the March 31 deadline to notify the stadium authority.
Owner Mark Davis would pay nearly $3 million in rent per season.
Mark Gergen, a UC Berkeley law professor, reviewed the lease and said it appears there is little the Coliseum authority can do to force the Raiders out early. The authority consists of members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and Oakland City Council.
“It looks fairly straightforward,” Gergen said. “It looks like Oakland is bound on the option.”
In Las Vegas, officials are anticipating the decision the Raiders will make regarding the site for a new stadium. While no official announcements have been made at this point, Clark County Commission chairman Steve Sisolak believes that the Raiders prefered options is a 63-acre property at Russell Road and Dean Martin Drive.
The site’s proximity to the Strip and Interstate 15 are believed to be major advantages and, though some concerns have arisen about potential traffic issues, the team thinks that it can make the location work. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Sisolak said he had shared his own concerns about the site due to problems that might be created with additional game day traffic. But after speaking with Raiders owner Mark Davis and team president Marc Badain on Tuesday, Sisolak believes the team is committed to doing what’s necessary to make the location work.
“They understand my concerns and that they have to work to alleviate those concerns,” he said. “They still have to do their traffic and pedestrian and drainage studies. That may change their minds, but they’ve got to take it step by step.”
Aside from the site selection, one of the biggest questions that remains in the team’s relocation plan is where it will play in 2019. Sam Boyd Stadium, current home to UNLV football, has been cited by many as a possible solution, but the facility would need upgrades to host the NFL and the Raiders have yet to commit to that idea. In fact, ESPN Reported on Tuesday rhat Raiders owner Mark Davis has “has all but ruled out using UNLV’s current home — the 35,500-seat Sam Boyd Stadium, about nine miles southeast of the university’s campus — due to outdated locker rooms and lack of a proper security border around the facility,” other than for preseason games.
RELATED STORIES: NFL Approves Oakland Raiders Move to Las Vegas