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New stadium deal for NFL Oakland Raiders

A new Raiders stadium offer, worked out by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s development people, calls for giving free land to the team and for city and Alameda County taxpayers to pay off the US$120m they still owe for the 1990s overhaul of the Coliseum, which would be demolished under the plan.

For months, Quan has been predicting that a broad agreement for a new Raiders stadium, costing between US$900m to US$1.2bn, would be worked out by the summer’s end.

Now, Zach Wasserman, an attorney representing backers of a hoped-for sports, housing and retail complex called ‘Coliseum City’, says the “basic terms” of a financial deal have been worked out among his group, the city’s negotiators and the Raiders. And that he “expects it to be executed soon”.

In other words, everyone’s waiting for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down from Raiders owner Mark Davis – who has been very publicly looking at other cities.

Even as Davis thinks it over, questions are being raised about whether the proposed deal will fly.

The idea is that the public wouldn’t be on the hook for construction costs; those would be paid for by revenue generated by the project, the NFL and other private sources, but taxpayers would contribute the land and infrastructure improvements.

The city and county would also have to come up with the US$120m to pay off the Coliseum expansion that lured the Raiders back from Los Angeles. City and county taxpayers now pay US$20m a year in general-fund money for debt service.

County officials, who share oversight of the Coliseum, say Quan has kept them in the dark about the city’s plan.

Supervisor Nate Miley, chairman of the city-county Coliseum Authority, which operates the complex, said:

I am still skeptical about the whole Coliseum City deal and if it’s going to materialize.

But he said he’s keeping an open mind.

Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid, another member of the Coliseum Authority, said the proposal for the city and county to pay off the debt on the old Coliseum took him by surprise. He commented:

I have asked that the (Coliseum City) item be scheduled for closed session for an update at our next (council) meeting.

Another big question is how the Oakland A’s – who just signed a 10-year lease extension at the stadium that would be demolished – fit into the picture. Sources close to the Coliseum City negotiations tell us that if the A’s won’t play ball with the project’s backers, part of the land could be turned over to team owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher for their own privately developed ballpark.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle