Goodell on the Raiders

How NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to media questions regarding the Raiders and the state of Bay Area football:

Q: Why did you come to Oakland?

Goodell: I try to get around to every stadium every couple of years. I haven’t been out here yet so . . . this is a game that we had picked a couple of months ago. I’m glad I’m here.

Q: Your impressions of this stadium facility, one of the oldest in the NFL?

Goodell: It is. And it’s something that we’ve been meeting with a lot of people today about how to address that from a long-term standpoint. It’s clear, and I think everyone accepts it, that something has to get done here with a new stadium at some point. And I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the leadership here about how we can help in that process. There are a lot of passionate fans here, as you know, from talking to fans here.

Q: Both the Raiders and 49ers need stadiums _ any chance they could agree on a common stadium?

Goodell: That’s complicated by a lot of factors. The teams here have to come together. The communities have to come together and say, ‘This is the best way to get something done.’ I don’t know if that’s the best solution here or not. But that is something that I think needs dialogue and everyone is going to have to evaluate that as one alternative to the long-term solution for both teams.

Q: What is the challenge now in getting the G3 stadium fund replenished in light of the credit crunch and is it more difficult to gain financing?

Goodell: A couple of things. First, the G3 fund expired just over a year ago, so that funding is not available right now. Clearly, in this economic environment it makes building anything more challenging. And we obviously, as you know, have issues on the labor side in which we’re trying to look at our labor costs, and the increased risks in building stadiums like this. We’re probably building a stadium in New York that’s going to be about $1.8 billion.”

Q: Other sports have said the economy is having an impact. Is it having an impact on the NFL?

Goodell: Unfortunately earlier this week we advised our people that we’re laying off 150 people. So yeah, we’re seeing it on a variety of levels. We’re seeing it on our sponsors, our partners, our broadcast partners. Clearly our fans are being faced with either less disposable income. There are a lot of challenges.

Q: The Raiders have not been competitive for six years now. Does it fall within your realm as commissioner as something to address?

Goodell: Not individually, no. Competitiveness . . . I think we’ve got a very competitive league. The Dolphins showed how fast you can turn a franchise around. The Atlanta Falcons have showed how fast you can turn a franchise around. This franchise has been competitive for decades. I’m sure Mr. Davis and the Raiders are going to turn that around.

Q: Is there ever a situation where you could see yourself stepping in in that regard as far as (ensuring) competitiveness?

Goodell: I’ve got enough things to do. No. (Laughter). I work for 32 teams. I can’t work for one. And I’m not sure I’d be much help, by the way.

Q: How important is it for the Raiders to remain here in Oakland, with their lease coming up in a couple of years?

Goodell: I think it’s important for all of our teams to stay in their communities. This is something we’ve focused on an awful lot over the last 10 or 15 years, in trying to make sure we create an environment where the team can be successful, the community can be successful and together they can create a partnership that’s going to do great things for the fans and the community.

Q: Did you meet with Al Davis today?

Goodell: I did.

Q: How would you characterize the relationship of the NFL office with the Raiders?

Goodell: It’s better than it has been in many, many years. We’re working together on issues. We’re trying to do things that will benefit the NFL and the Raiders together in the communities that we both represent.

Q: What about the Los Angeles market, have you thought about it much?

Goodell: Yes (laughter). Well, listen the reality is, the NFL is going to do great without Los Angeles, and Los Angeles is going to do great without the NFL. My thought has always been, together we can do better. We’re having good dialogue with the people there trying to create an opportunity that is good for the community and is good for the NFL. It would be great to be back there. We know we have millions of fans in that market and we would love to be back there. But it has to be back in a way that is good for the community and the NFL.

Q: Can you share with us any of your meeting with Al Davis?

Goodell: No. Nothing that is significant. We talked about a variety of different issues. I don’t mean it was that secretive.

Q: So, you can’t divulge any details?

Goodell: No, we had a good dialogue about a variety of things that are happening in the league. And that’s part of what I do when I go to markets is want to hear from owners, I want to hear from club people, I want to hear from fans, I want to hear from the media.

Q: How important is Davis to the way the league works?

Goodell: He is very valuable to us because he has been through this. He has seen it from a variety of different perspectives, as a coach, as a commissioner, as an owner. He has a very good sense of the game of football and what’s necessary to make sure the game stays competitive. So, he can help us.

Q: Will the 49ers receive any of the (stadium) money?

Goodell: That’s what we have to address as a league and certainly with our players association. The program was very successful. It got a lot of stadiums built. But it has to be done in a way that makes sense for the collective 32 teams, and that’s what we’re going back and evaluating.

Q: Are you concerned that the 49ers or Raiders might bolt for the L.A. market?

Goodell: No, we’re worried about the California market, in general. If you look at where our stadium situation (stands), San Diego is trying to address a stadium situation, San Francisco, the Oakland Raiders. So, collectively we have to try to address these matters on a statewide level as well in our local communities.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer