OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Oakland was given another shot to keep the Raiders.
The NFL approved a compromise measure Tuesday that allows the St. Louis Rams to move back to the Los Angeles area and gives the San Diego Chargers the option to join them in Inglewood.
The Raiders had hoped to move to Carson with the Chargers, but were left out of the high-stakes game of musical chairs. But the team could get the chance to join the Rams at their stadium in 2017 if the Chargers remain in San Diego.
But for now, the Raiders can negotiate with Oakland on building a new stadium or look to other cities such as San Antonio, or possibly San Diego or St. Louis for a new home.
The Raiders’ lease at the Oakland Coliseum expires next month, but they could reach a short-term extension to stay until they find a long-term solution. Davis said the “world is a possibility” for the Raiders and a team-issued statement did not mention Oakland.
“We’ll see where the Raider Nation ends up here,” Davis said. “We’ll be working really hard to find us a home. That’s what we’re looking for, for our fans and everything else. Don’t feel bad. We’ll get it right.”
Oakland officials were pleased by the news and hope the additional time granted by Tuesday’s decision will help them reach a deal for a new stadium without direct public subsidies.
“We recognize the clock is ticking and this opportunity will not last forever,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “My hope is we are given a year to get what will be a very complex project together.”
The decision Tuesday gives at least a temporary reprieve to Oakland fans who had their hearts broken once before when the Raiders departed for Los Angeles following the 1981 season.
Ray Perez, a 28-year-old Raiders fan from Sacramento who goes by the moniker “Dr. Death”, traveled to Houston in his usual Black Hole garb, was cautiously optimistic after hearing the news.
“I will not be completely, fully thrilled until the ink dries on paper and we know we’re staying in Oakland in a new stadium,” Perez said. “I’m very happy, very happy. But I’m not going to be overjoyed until we sign a stadium deal to keep the Raiders in Oakland with our own stadium.”
The team spent 14 years in Los Angeles before returning to Oakland amid much fanfare for the 1995 season. But the return stay has not been nearly as successful as the first tenure when the Raiders won two Super Bowls and were one of the league’s top teams.
The Raiders have been unable to add to that success since their return outside of a three-year run starting in 2000 when the Raiders made it to two AFC title games and one Super Bowl. The team has failed to post a winning record or make the playoffs in the 18 other seasons.
The move back also wasn’t very successful off the field as the city of Oakland and Alameda County were left holding the bag after personal seat licenses failed to cover the cost of the $220 million renovation that added more than 10,000 seats and luxury boxes in what was called Mount Davis.
The city and county still owe about $100 million in debt on the upgrade, which has made financing a new stadium problematic.
But with the Coliseum growing more outdated and suffering from occasional sewage backups and other infrastructure problems, a new stadium is essential.
Oakland has no firm plans for a new stadium, but has trumpeted the wealth of the Bay Area and the prime location of the Coliseum with its proximity to public transit and freeways as reasons to keep the Raiders in town.
In a letter to the NFL last month, Oakland officials said they would be able to give the Raiders 60 acres of land on the Coliseum site to build a new 55,000-seat stadium and development area if they can get the funding.
Davis has said there was a $500 million gap in what he was able to spend and how much the stadium would cost and also wants more land for the stadium. The NFL said it was willing to give an additional $100 million to help reach a stadium deal in Oakland, but that still leaves a gap.
“Anything they give you is better than nothing,” said Scott McKibben, the executive director of the board that runs the Coliseum. “We’re obviously grateful and appreciative of their efforts. We’ll see how that all looks when take a look at the specific numbers. We’ll go back and reload the gun and see where things fall out and take it from there.”