Mark Davis and the Raiders received official NFL approval on Monday to relocate to Las Vegas, and naturally, the city of Oakland is not pleased. They could not come up with the kind of public funding Las Vegas offered ($750 million direct, $200 million in infrastructure), and the NFL has made it clear money comes first for its franchises.
The Raiders have said they will remain in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, but are unsure about 2019. It will likely take three years to build their new stadium, which means they need a home for 2019. Mark Davis said they would stay in Oakland if the city was fine with that.
It is safe to say the city might not be fine with that. Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf issued a press release expressing disappointment in the Raiders, but pride in not bowing to pressure for public funds. However, other Oakland politicians went even further.
City council president Larry Reid is asking lawyers for the Joint Powers Authority (they run the Coliseum) to review the lease for an opportunity to evict the Raiders sooner rather than later. Reid seems to be hoping for an eviction before the 2017 season begins.
Odds are pretty good that will not happen. Even if the JPA pushes for an eviction, this would likely spend most of the next three years locked up in a court battle. Odds are good the Raiders would have a new stadium before any decision was finally made.
At the same time, on the off chance the JPA is able to evict the Raiders from the Coliseum, it opens up an interesting scenario. There has been some talk about the Raiders potentially spending a season at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, where UNLV plays. They would not be the first team to play in a substandard stadium while awaiting a new stadium.
However, one possibility would be to have them play at Levi’s Stadium. I doubt this actually happens, but if Sam Boyd Stadium is not viewed as sufficiently ready (it’s a pretty dumpy stadium, even for college football), the only other option would seem to be partnering with the San Francisco 49ers for a couple years.
Levi’s Stadium includes a clause allowing the 49ers to sub-lease to another football team. There had been some chatter about the Raiders and 49ers partnering on a stadium, but Mark Davis never wanted to get involved. I can’t really blame him as far as fans are concerned, and the location in Santa Clara did not make a ton of sense for the Raiders. But for a short-term option, if things get ugly with the city of Oakland, it could make sense for the Raiders to play a couple seasons at Levi’s Stadium.