The Oakland Raiders have been looking for a new stadium for years now. The Coliseum, with its changing naming rights such as the current O.co sponsorship, is the place they've called home since returning to Oakland from Los Angeles, and among the worst stadiums in the NFL. Unless they get a new one in the Bay Area, they could return to Southern California to the ever-looming Proposed Los Angeles Football Stadium. The team says they have a plan for a new stadium, but according to Matthew Artz of the Oakland Tribune, the money isn't adding up.
The Raiders commissioned a stadium feasibility study, which concluded that the team could pitch in $300 million for a new, 50,000-seat facility at the current stadium site. That's a healthy chunk of change, but even after a $200 million loan from the NFL, they'd still be looking at a budgetary shortfall of at least $300 million, which they would need public money to fill.
Alameda County and the city of Oakland have not been quick to splash cash for stadiums in recent years, so it's not a given that they will fill in the budgetary gaps for the new Raiders stadium. The Oakland Athletics share O.co Coliseum with the Raiders, and they've also been looking for a new facility for years. They could be headed to San Jose if they can get a facility built there. The Golden State Warriors have plans to begin playing in San Francisco in 2017, once their lease at Oracle Arena is up.
The Raiders' lease at the Coliseum expires after the 2013 season, and owner Mark Davis isn't interested in signing another short-term deal to stay there unless there are firm plans to build a new facility. What could help them, though, is that they are the only team out of the three current Oakland residents interested in the city's plans for a sports and entertainment complex. A football team is a far cry from a model anchor tenant, though, as the small number of home games doesn't provide a big, continuous draw like a baseball or basketball facility would.
If this stadium does get built, it would be the smallest in the NFL. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, as it would be easier to sell out and get games on local television. The franchise was able to sell out 15 of its past 16 home games, but convincing fans to buy tickets in previous years has not been the easiest thing to do with poorly performing teams for the last decade. Still, the biggest issue for the Raiders is the lack of corporate money in the Coliseum. The team is supposed to gather approximately $100 million from luxury boxes and other corporate purchases, roughly one-quarter of what the 49ers are bringing in. That doesn't seem like a tenable long-term situation, but a shiny new stadium would almost certainly do a better job at attracting large sums of corporate money.
Wherever you fall in the public money for professional sports facilities debate, almost everyone can agree that this situation needs to be worked out soon, otherwise the Raiders could unfortunately be on the move once again.