Even if Mark Davis is not talking about Oakland these days as he continues to focus on an ever dwindling options for a move to Las Vegas, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is still keeping open the possibility of a stadium solution in Oakland.
“There's a long way to go on this,” Goodell said in a fan forum of the Oakland stadium situation. “We have a lot of analysis still to do before the decision is made about whether we are going to do that. And it really is to focus on what are the efforts that we've had in Oakland, and are we confident that we can't find a solution in Oakland?”
This is the most Goodell has cracked open the door for Oakland in some time. The efforts that have been made in Oakland surround the city’s partnership with the investment group headed up by former Raiders Hall of Famer, Ronnie Lott.
The last we heard of the NFL’s opinion on the latest proposal in Oakland was not positive. Vice President Eric Grubman called it a carbon copy of the old deal which was deemed to not be viable leading to the Raiders’ previous attempts to relocate to Los Angeles.
Those LA plans were within an owners vote of being put into motion, but ultimately saw the Raiders sent back to Oakland with a $100 million consolation prize and the Rams and Chargers eventually joining forces in the new facility being constructed in Inglewood.
Now the situation in Las Vegas is looking like it too is on life support. The one major concern many had with financing was Las Vegas Sands Co casino mogul Sheldon Adelson being involved.
Adelson was to provide a considerable chunk of change — as much as $650 million — to the project and as it turns out, that did not sit well with Goodell.
“The second is is Las Vegas a market that we are confident can support the team long term?,” Goodell continued. “There are obviously issues with gambling. All these guys know it - we know it. We separate ourselves from sports gambling. That's something that we don't want our fans to think, that anything in our game is influenced by anything other than the great play of these guys. So that's how we look at it."
Initially Mark Davis insisted if Adelson wasn’t part of the deal, he could turn to Goldman Sachs to fill the funding void. But with Adelson out, Goldman Sachs is no longer interested, leaving Davis to scramble to seek other options.
Meanwhile, the Lott Group made a statement essentially saying ‘we’re still here and ready when you are’.
It’s entirely possible that with a Vegas move looking quite a bit more high maintenance than it appeared just weeks ago that Goodell is warming to Oakland as a more attractive option.
Goodell insists he hates to tear teams away from their home markets, but the way he cleared the way for the Rams to bolt from St Louis suggests otherwise. Now San Diego has lost the Chargers to LA as well. Can the NFL manage to actually keep one of their proposed relocation teams from skipping town?
"It's always disappointing for us to see a relocation application because we really want to see our teams stay where they are,” said Goodell. “(players’) families have roots in those communities, they give back to those communities, and it's hard to relocate a franchise. And we know the impact it has on our fans, so for us that really is a failure when it comes to that. That we weren't able to solve the issues to try to get a stadium built or try to make sure the team can be successful for that market.”
Mark Davis will have until March 26 to figure out where that $650 million in funding is coming from. If he can’t, the best he can hope for is an extension on the vote, which could be a ‘check back next year’ situation.
In the meantime, perhaps Davis can come back to the table in Oakland. It would also mean more time to try and figure out a stadium solution for the A’s to get them to opt out of their current coliseum lease and therefore removing a major roadblock for the Raiders stadium plans.