OAKLAND, Calif. — The Raiders took another small step Friday toward a one-season return to Oakland when the board that oversees the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum deemed to continue negotiations with the NFL club about securing a rental agreement for the 2019 campaign.
No deal is in place, but that could change within the next week, said Scott McKibben, executive director and lead negotiator for the Coliseum Authority. He added that he planned to reach out Friday “before lunch” to Raiders president Marc Badain regarding further lease discussions.
“I am cautiously optimistic that I believe that we will get a deal done, yes,” McKibben said.
He expected no agreement to be reached before next week.
Should one be struck, the eight-member Coliseum Authority will reconvene for a public vote. Approval from the committee would represent that “it’s pretty much done,” McKibben said, regarding the Raiders playing at the Coliseum in 2019. But Alameda County’s board of supervisors and Oakland’s city council later would hold separate votes to achieve that same effect.
The Raiders, scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2020, have occupied the Coliseum for 40 seasons, including since 1995. Their lease expired Wednesday.
Friday’s decision to continue negotiations occurred during the closed-session portion of a prescheduled meeting. The group, which meets on the third Friday every month, is composed of Alameda County and city of Oakland representatives. Although a lease agreement is not finalized, terms may involve the Raiders paying to rent the facility in 2019 while carrying an option for 2020 usage should the Las Vegas stadium project be delayed.
“The next step for me is I will get back to the Raiders, and I will discuss with Marc what exactly we discussed (in closed session),” McKibben said. “Like any other deal or negotiation, we will hammer down to the shorthairs. If we reach a complete and full agreement, then we’ll move forward, do a contract, and at that time, we would have a meeting … where we call people back for a formal approval.”
Last year, McKibben similarly worked toward a lease extension with the Raiders.
That negotiation was “pretty well resolved” and coming along “just ho-hum,” he said, before the city of Oakland filed in December a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and all 32 of its franchises, protesting the legality of the Raiders’ impending relocation to Nevada. The team then pulled from lease talks — $7.5 million was and remains the 2019 rent price on the table — and conducted an extensive search of alternative sites.
Given the team is headquartered in Alameda, California, owner Mark Davis’ preference always was to remain in the Bay Area.
The team explored local venues, including Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara and Oracle Park in San Francisco. Although an agreement with the Raiders is expected, McKibben said that if none is reached, he believes Davis will have the team play at Levi’s, home of the San Francisco 49ers.
“The cleanest thing is just stay in Oakland,” McKibben said. “You’ve got this season coming up. You’ve got the 2020 option available to you if the stadium project gets behind time. That’s the easiest. It’s easy to schedule. It’s easy to do everything. Now, the next best thing is you go down to Levi’s.
“You’re only a 30-minute bus ride for the players. It’s not inconvenient; however, you don’t have a lot of advantages that you have here. You have no signage. I mean, you’re playing in the 49ers’ house, so you’re going to be branded like the 49ers’ house.
“You’re visiting your in-laws, and they want you to leave at the end of the week. That’s what it comes down to.”
No Raiders officials were present at Friday’s meeting.
Of the agenda’s other items, the committee discussed a potential vote in March or April on a naming-rights deal for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Oracle Arena. Ring Central, a provider of cloud-based business communications, is engaged in discussions for both sites.
A far higher-profile negotiation, though, is the one between the Raiders and McKibben.
“We’re talking,” McKibben said. “We’re moving forward. Incremental but significant progress has been made.”