Filed for print/web, this version contains reaction from Oakland officials regarding Raiders visit to San Antonio. Staff writer Matthew Artz got reaction from city, county officials.
Raiders owner Mark Davis confirmed a published report of a visit with San Antonio officials, but the extent of his interest in relocating his franchise to Texas is not known.
Davis, reached by phone, said he was in San Antonio with close friend and former Raider Cliff Branch, who was being inducted into a local Hall of Fame.
“Former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros is a friend and Henry suggested I take the opportunity to meet with some city officials while I was in town,’’ Davis said. “I have nothing further to discuss on the topic.’’
According to a report in the San Antonio Express News, Davis met with Cisneros, then-mayor Julian Castro, city manager Sheryl Sculley and the president of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
Following the initial report, Sculley issued the following memo to the city council, according to the Express-News:
“I was asked to meet two weeks ago with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis, and members of his staff. Mr. Davis has expressed interest in a possible relocation of his NFL team to San Antonio and we are engaged in preliminary due diligence. The agenda for this visit included a tour of the Alamodome and meetings with local business leaders.’’
The Alamodome could serve as a temporary home until a new stadium is built.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters at the team’s training camp in Oxnard he “didn’t make much’’ of the report. Dallas is 274 miles from San Antonio. The Cowboys have trained in San Antonio and consider it their market.
“What I will say is San Antonio is very important to the Dallas Cowboys,’’ Jones said.
A move would require approval from 24 of the 32 NFL owners. League spokesman Greg Aiello told the Express News “We have received no applications from any of our teams to relocate at this point, so there is nothing to respond to.’’
The Raiders are in the final year of their lease in Oakland. Davis’ often-stated preference is to build a new stadium on the current site, a wish complicated by a recent 10-year lease agreement by the A’s to remain in Oakland.
While the A’s lease includes a provision for allowing the Raiders to knock down O.co Coliseum to make way for a new football stadium, there remains an estimated $600 million funding gap, according to Oakland officials.
Moreover, city and team officials haven’t even agreed on what type of stadium should be built. The Raiders have said they prefer a smaller, less expansive open-air stadium, while the city is studying the feasibility of a more expensive dome stadium that could attract additional events.
A city-driven effort to find private investors to pump money into a football stadium and adjacent entertainment center so far as been a failure. With both Oakland and Alameda County unwilling to issue stadium bonds _ both agencies are still on the hook for about $140 million for the stadium renovations that brought the Raideres back from Los Angeles – politicians on Tuesday didn’t fault Davis for exploring a move.
“We want the Raiders to stay, but not at any cost,’’ Councilman Larry Reid said. “If the city of San Antonio is willing to float $600 million worth of bonds, then certainly that is an option for the Raiders to consider.
Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who also heads the board that oversees the Coliseum complex, said he would talk to team management next month to gauge their interest in a lease extension and discuss stadium options.
“(Mark Davis) has made it clear his preference is to stay in Oakland, but his preference may not cut it if we can’t get the financing,’’ Miley said. “If he can get it somewhere else that is a business decision, and I respect that.’’
Staff writer Matthew Artz contributed to this report.