Raiders Owner Mark Davis talks Raiders stadium progress with ESPN's John Clayton on Inside the Huddle.
Q: First, for all the Raiders fans who were down there at the hotel at the Owner's meeting trying to show support… you're trying to keep the team in Oakland, aren't you?
Q: How difficult is it?
Davis:"It's not an easy task, John. We've been working on a stadium in Oakland for the past at least six years, on a very strong basis. We definitely want to keep the Raiders in Oakland, if possible, and have made as much as we can trying with the city, the county and the Oakland A's and the Raiders, trying to work something out, to figure it out, how we can get it done."
Q: I thought you were very succinct at the owner's meeting in trying to spell out the difference. First, you're trying to get a $900 million stadium, which, in this day and age, is not the most expensive. It's pretty reasonable. But as you emphasized, there's about a $400 million gap that has to be filled if this thing is going to work in Oakland.
Davis:"The Raiders, along with the NFL with the G4 money, which is a $200 million loan to the Raiders, would be able to come up with $500 million. We've put $500 million on the table and we believe that we could build the stadium in Oakland that would be suitable for the Raiders and our fans for about $900 million. We would need the land and the infrastructure to be taken care of somehow."
Q: How difficult is it to keep a stadium like that under $1 billion? All these new stadiums seem to be coming in at $1 billion-plus.
Davis:"If we were to be in Oakland, we don't really need to have all the bells and whistles on the stadium. What we want is a football stadium. We don't need massive clubs and things of that nature. The three things that are most important to me in a stadium up here would be ingress, egress and parking. The reason I bring those things up is that it makes it easy for people to get in and out and the parking. Tailgating is such a major part of the Raiders game day experience for our fans, that it's something that I'm not willing to give up. Parking is such an important thing. If we have those things and were able to build a football stadium, similar to Seattle or something of that nature, we'd be more than happy."
Q: Where would the location be? Would it be around the current complex or would it be in some other part of Oakland?
Davis:"We would like to have it exactly in the same place that it is right now. The reason for that is the current stadium connects to BART, which is the Bay Area Rapid Transit. I'd say 30 percent of our fans utilize that on game day. The train comes right in to the stadium, they get off, they walk the ramp and they're into the stadium. What we'd like to do is build it right on that same footprint. The reason for that is what we would like to do is immediately, once we've got the designs and everything done, demolish the existing stadium, create a very flat footprint and palette, put in all the infrastructure and build a brand new stadium right there, with the parking and everything. One of the challenges we have with that is that we share the stadium with the Oakland A's. The Oakland A's have a 10-year lease to remain in the Coliseum. One of the plans that they're talking about is, is us building the stadium in the corner of a parking lot and then once our new stadium is built, then they would rip down the stadium and build the new one for the A's and build housing and all of that stuff. That just isn't a situation that I want to get us into. I would like for, if possible, the Raiders and the A's to stay on that site and that the Raiders and A's vacate the Coliseum for the next two or three years. We build a brand new football stadium and a brand new baseball stadium on the site and then we'd come back and begin playing in two brand new stadiums without construction going on around us, in brand new stadiums."
Q: I think that you had mentioned that June 21 you're expecting to hear something from the area. Is that the target date to try to at least get something?
Davis:"What the city and county have done is they've given an exclusive negotiating agreement to a company run by a guy by the name of Floyd Kephart. They are attempting to come up with that $400 million gap through some type of a real estate development deal. By June 21, they're supposed to come with a financing plan to the city and the county and then to us. We'll see if it's a doable deal or not. We're hoping that it is."
Q: I know that would be your hope. There are options and what I didn't realize at the owner's meeting, there is a lot of momentum building on the Carson project. A project where you'd be sharing a stadium with the Chargers. How viable can that be?
Davis:"The fact that there are two teams doing this project and the fact that we've got 170 acres right now, it gives us the ability to finance the stadium without relying on ancillary development. We don't have to fill the parking lot or extra acreage with buildings and hotels and things of that nature. We're able to just build a football stadium, which would have the ingress because of the freeways and where Carson is located. It would have the ingress and egress that I require and, as well, have the parking that would give us the best game day experience possible."
Q: I've learned how close you and Dean Spanos have been, even though you compete in the same division. You guys seem to be really working well together.
Davis:"It's funny because our fathers were close for a long, long time. My dad helped bring Mr. Spanos into the league, something maybe he regrets these days (laughing), I don't know. Dean and I have always seen each other but we've rarely talked, and I think it was a competitive type thing. He's a Charger, he's a Raider. We did have a vicious and we still do have a very vicious rivalry going on the football field. But, once Dean and I got together about three or four months ago to talk about this project, we really got along. We have similar business principles and things are working out pretty good in that respect."
Q: Dean would still love to be able to keep his team in San Diego, just like you'd like to be able to keep your team in Oakland.
Davis:"Exactly. That's why I call it a parallel path. Up until, I'd say, early last year, even the parallel paths were just in talking stages. Then, when things got to where they've gotten in our situation in Oakland, we took it to the next step and started really putting a project together. That's when Dean and I got together and were serious about doing something and this amazing project that could be great for the NFL, the Raiders and the Chargers and the fans."
Q: San Jose is not an option, from what you've said, and maybe not St. Louis.
Davis:"That's correct. I believe that the Raider brand is a very unique brand. It's something that, whatever stadium that we're able to build, wherever we're able to put the team, is going to be the last place the Raiders are going to play in my lifetime. I want to make sure that it's a Raider-type of situation. I just don't feel that those two venues or geographical areas fit the Raider brand."
Q: One interesting part of this, too, is that one team would have to leave the conference and get out of the division.
Davis:"That hasn't been brought up to me yet. That hasn't even been one of the discussion points. I know it's been brought up by other people in the media and things of that nature, but that issue hasn't been brought up. I think that's something that the League will deal with when the time comes."
Q: Let's talk some Raider football. How do you feel about the team right now?
Davis:"Fantastic. We're undefeated."
Q: That's a good start. You'll be that way for a few months."
Davis:"We're un-scored on. I'm really excited. I think over this last offseason we've put a lot of stability into the football side of the building. I think Reggie has been doing a great job. He's had a lot of patience with building the roster and what we called the deconstruction phase for the first two years he was here and now we're in the reconstruction phase. I think bringing in Jack Del Rio was just a really, really solid move for this organization. The coaching staff that he's put together is just a great staff. I think all of them have played football at one time or another, so they all understand the game, understand the players and I think the players can relate to them because of that. We're really excited."