Tarps won't change dire stadium situation in Oakland

Tarps won't change dire stadium situation in Oakland
February 6, 2013, 10:00 pm
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The Raiders are unlikely to get a new stadium in Oakland unless the ownership situation changes, writes Ray Ratto. 

The Raiders are planting their flag at the Coliseum, and as they say, they seem to be the only ones who want to do so.

But in doing so, they are agreeing to have fewer people see them plant it.

They have decided to tarp the upper deck of Mount Davis, on the perfectly reasonable assumptions that the seats largely stink, they will be rarely filled, and they need the faux sellouts more than they need the extra 11,000 chairs.

This is the crystalline logic that wafted through the heads of A’s owners John Fisher and Lew Wolff when they tarped the upper deck of the west side of the Coliseum, and we see how well that never came close to working.

But hey, when you’re this desperate to do a home upgrade, you’ll try anything – even something that is a certifiably proven failure.

Amy Trask, the last powerful holdover from the Era Of Al The Omnipotent, is the public face of this grand scheme, but one can only presume that this has been run through Al’s son Mark Davis, and maybe even the football department as well. Knowing how the Raiders do anything has always been difficult, thus making the fact that they’ve done so little in the last decade something of a relief to analysts.

But as a spur to getting a new stadium built somewhere in the East Bay, tarping the mountain’s summit is basically putting an apron on a short-order cook. It doesn’t make the Davis family any wealthier, it doesn’t make their search for the ideal site any clearer, and it doesn’t make the Oakland City and Alameda County governments any more generous.

And you know as well as Trask does that any new stadium would run right through the public’s wallet. The Raiders don’t have the jack to do it any other way without finding a buyer or buyers who would front the cost in exchange for a larger and perhaps even controlling interest in the club.

That’s why people keep throwing Los Angeles into the wind – because that’s where the best resale value lies.

The Raiders are to be credited for trying to make Oakland work, if only rhetorically. “We have not been hesitant to state that we love that site,” Trask told four reporters in Alameda, including the lovely and bewitching Comrade Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com. “We love the site on which we play. It is centrally located in the Northern California and Bay Area region. It is right on a major thoroughfare. It's got better ingress and egress than most public facilities in California. And, it has the best public transportation of any stadium in the National Football League. We love that site. Our hope, our desire is a new stadium on that site. And we have stated that publicly for years. I think it's fair to note that of all the sports tenants on the complex, we are the one sports tenant that keeps saying, We want to stay.”

But then she dropped some bad rum into the Cuba Libre when she added, “We do understand that it is a different day and age now, and anything that's done is going to have to be a true public/private partnership and we are proceeding in that manner.”

And herein lies the reason why the tarp doesn’t really matter much in the bigger picture. It lessens the ticket-selling threshold the Raiders have to meet, which is likely a measure of the softness of the market, but that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t change the larger dynamic, which is that neither they, the governments nor the market can get a new stadium built without a dramatic change in ownership percentages. The Raiders will need to be far more creative than just putting a new skirt on an old mannequin.

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