OAKLAND — The Oakland Raiders want to build the NFL's smallest stadium at their current home, but the team might not be able to cover even half the costs, city and Alameda County officials learned Monday.
A team-commissioned study found enough demand in Oakland for a 50,000-seat football stadium that would cost roughly $800 million, said David Stone, whose firm, AECOM, is advising Oakland and Alameda County officials on stadium construction.
Stone said the Raiders have proposed contributing about $300 million toward the project. If the NFL agreed to provide $200 million from its stadium loan program, that would leave an estimated $300 million shortfall, Stone said Monday during a meeting of the joint Oakland and Alameda County board that governs the Oakland Coliseum complex.
Team officials were not at the Monday meeting. Mike Taylor, the team's director of public affairs, said in a statement that "Both sides are conducting studies to determine the demand and financial viability of the project." City leaders had been adamant about not subsidizing a new football stadium after losing tens of millions of dollars to bring the Raiders back from Los Angeles, but their tone softened Monday.
Councilman Larry Reid acknowledged that public money would be needed to help cover stadium construction costs and wouldn't rule out supporting it.
"My primary concern is this is a city that always had three major league teams and that now there is the possibility that we will have none," he said.
The NBA's Golden State Warriors are planning to leave Oakland for San Francisco, and the Oakland A's still want to move to San Jose.
AECOM is working its own stadium feasibility study for the city and county that will consider options for bridging the funding gap, such as increased hotel and rental car taxes.
There is a growing urgency in Oakland to strike a deal with the Raiders to keep the team from returning to Los Angeles, where a 75,000-seat stadium has been proposed in the nearby City of Industry.
With the Raiders lease expiring after the upcoming season, team owner Mark Davis has said he wants to stay in Oakland but doesn't want to sign another short-term lease at the Coliseum without an agreement in place for a new stadium.
"There is no set deadline ... but we know time is not on our side, even if there isn't a deadline," Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell said.
The Raiders' struggle to privately finance a stadium stems from poor corporate support, Stone said. NFL teams depend on major companies and wealthy individuals to buy an ownership stake in expensive suites and club seating, which are used to help finance stadium construction.
The 49ers have generated more than $400 million from the purchase of seat licenses for their $1.3 billion, 68,500-seat stadium in Santa Clara.
The Raiders are projecting to take in about $100 million from the sales of seat licenses. But the team has a poor track record in that department. When the Raiders failed to sell sufficient seat licenses to finance stadium renovation in Oakland upon the return from Los Angeles two decades ago, the city and Alameda County were forced to cover those costs.
Both entities still pay nearly $10 million a year to operate the Coliseum and are on the hook for about $100 million in outstanding debt from Coliseum renovations.