Vote on Raiders lease in Oakland set for Friday

OAKLAND, Calif. — A lease agreement allowing the Raiders to occupy the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for at least one more season will be voted upon Friday, all but assuring the franchise will play in Oakland until its relocation to Las Vegas.

The pact, which features $7.5 million rent for 2019 and a $10.5 million team option for 2020, is subject to vote from three public entities before it can be enacted. First, the Coliseum Authority will vote Friday at an open-session meeting. On a later date, the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors respectively must approve the lease, too.

Many close to the situation consider all three steps a formality, given the city and county input in the lease’s language. Presuming all goes as planned, the Raiders’ search for a home stadium in 2019 effectively was made complete Tuesday morning when Friday’s 8:30 a.m. meeting was agendized.

“I don’t see anyone voting against that,” one person close to the situation said Tuesday.

Reaching this moment took longer than most anticipated.

The NFL club, scheduled to move to Las Vegas in 2020, appeared poised to extend its Coliseum lease in December, having agreed to many of the same parameters in place today. But the city of Oakland filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the NFL and its 32 franchises to contest the legality of the Raiders’ aforementioned move.

The litigation posed no threat to the relocation, but it did sour Raiders owner Mark Davis on a 2019 return to Oakland. Citing the emotion that surrounds paying rent to a city suing him, he vowed to explore alternative sites before making any commitment to the Coliseum.

What followed, at times, galvanized the fan base and greater sports community, as rumors and reports linked the Raiders to cities across the West Coast and even world. London, San Diego, Reno and San Antonio, Texas, were among the speculated options. Some hopeful cities arose from the woodwork. Civic leaders from Tucson, Arizona, and Birmingham, Alabama, approached the team about a 2019 stay.

Davis, though, preferred to play in the Bay Area where the team is headquartered in Alameda. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, and Oracle Park in San Francisco were researched extensively.

Ultimately, neither was considered more suitable than Oakland. Following the Feb. 3 Super Bowl, talks picked up between Raiders president Marc Badain and Scott McKibben, the Coliseum Authority’s executive director and lead negotiator. Discussions continued past the lease’s Feb. 13 expiration, culminating now into what stands to be the Raiders’ 41st season at the Coliseum.

Although the lease includes the option for 2020, this is merely an insurance policy should the $1.8 billion, 65,000-seat Las Vegas stadium hit a construction delay that impacts its opening. As of now, the project remains on schedule.

The Raiders will play an assigned home game abroad in 2019, facing the Chicago Bears in London.

Seven regular-season games are scheduled for the Coliseum between the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum could undergo a name change before this fall. McKibben is in talks with Ring Central about a potential naming-rights deal for both the Coliseum and neighboring Oracle Arena.

One of the Raiders’ two home exhibitions in August could be played outside of Oakland, such as Canada, to prevent players from having to play twice during the preseason on a football field with a a baseball dirt diamond at the center of it; the Oakland A’s also use the venue, and the two teams’ seasons overlap at least two months per year.

No arrangement, however, on an alternative site has been finalized.

If the Raiders do play an exhibition away from Oakland, their $7.5 million rent will under a slight reduction, McKibben said.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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