Oakland Mayor Nearing End Zone to Privately Finance New NFL Stadium

Posted on: November 23, 2016, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2016, 02:12h.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf Raiders Vegas
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, seen here with Raiders President Marc Badain, is working with a former NFL great to keep the team in the Bay Area. (Image: Libby Schaaf/Twitter)

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D) says local leaders are close to securing a deal with private investors to build a new NFL football stadium in the Bay Area. As Mark Davis continues to press forward with moving his Oakland Raiders franchise to Las Vegas, city officials in Oakland are making a last-grasp effort to retain the storied team.

At 8-2 and leading the AFC West Division over the Kansas City Chiefs (7-3) and defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos (7-3), the Raiders are now much more valuable to the city. They’re also extremely likely to make the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2002.

And Las Vegas sportsbooks think the once-lowly team has a decent shot at making a deep playoff run.

The Westgate SuperBook has the Raiders with odds of winning Super Bowl LI at 16/1. Only the New England Patriots (7/5), Seattle Seahawks (5/1), Dallas Cowboys (5/1), and Pittsburgh Steelers (14/1) have better odds.

Online sportsbook Bovada lists Oakland at +1200, the fourth-strongest odds of winning the NFL title. Regardless of the Raiders’ unexpected strong play and Oakland potentially solidifying funding for a stadium, Davis reportedly remains committed to Sin City.

“The Raiders are still pursuing their relocation to Las Vegas and nothing has changed,” Las Vegas Sands VP Andy Abboud tweeted.

Abboud is a right-hand man to the company’s billionaire founder Sheldon Adelson. Adelson has pledged $650 million of his personal fortune to the proposed $1.9 billion stadium to be built just steps from the famed Strip.

Lott’s Loot

Schaaf is working with former NFL great Ronnie Lott who spent the majority of his 14-season career playing for the San Francisco 49ers. Lott has become a businessman and investor since leaving the league in 1995.

“I’m very excited about this deal with the Lott group,” Schaaf told the Bay Area’s NBC affiliate. “Right now it’s just a framework, but it’s a framework approach that protects the public dollar.”

Unlike in Nevada where the state approved $750 million in public funding from hotel occupancy taxes, Schaaf sought out private funding for a new stadium. “I’m optimistic that this is the framework that’s going to keep our Raiders in Oakland where they belong,” Schaaf concluded.

Schaaf’s vague announcement didn’t detail the would-be stadium’s cost and who exactly would own the venue. Specifics are expected to be presented to the Oakland City Council next week.

Adelson, who is worth upwards of $30 billion, says privately funding an NFL stadium is an investment that would come with little to no return. That’s why some observers are struggling to understand why Lott’s team is so willing to invest, especially taking into consideration that the Raiders might jump town.

Owners Approval

With funding for the Vegas NFL stadium in place, the only thing holding Davis back is obtaining approval from 24 of the league’s 32 owners.

Vegas’ legalized sports market remains a dire concern for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, but that no longer seems to be a make-or-break issue for the owners who are speaking out publicly on the Raiders’ potential move.

Following the developments in Oakland, Davis reportedly phoned Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) to reaffirm his plans to come to Vegas.