The Oakland Raiders want a new stadium, but they don’t want to pay for it.
The Raiders currently reside inside the far-too-comfy confines of the O.co Stadium, which was built while Lyndon Johnson still sat in office in 1966. So, it’s no wonder that owner Mark Davis and the rest of the Raiders organization would want to upgrade their severely outdated stadium, and it would be reasonable to ask the city and the NFL for a little help, too. That is, of course, if it were really an upgrade.
The Raiders want to build a 50,000-seat stadium inside Oakland, and they want the the city and the NFL to foot most of the bill, according to the Oakland Tribune. The organization is offering to pay $300 million of the projected $800 million price tag, while the NFL ponies up $200 million for the cause and Oakland taxpayers contribute the remaining $300 million.
The catch? The Raiders would be downgrading their maximum stadium capacity — O.co currently holds upward of 63,000 fans — and building the NFL’s smallest stadium. The new stadium would hold roughly 10,000 fewer fans than Soldier Field in Chicago, which ranks as the NFL’s second-smallest stadium with 61,000 seats. It would also be smaller than three MLB parks — Dodger Stadium, Coors Field (Colorado Rockies) and Yankees Stadium — an oddity considering the NFL’s average attendance is around 65,000 fans while MLB’s doesn’t even eclipse 40,000.
The Raiders were dead-last in attendance in the NFL in 2012, averaging just over 54,000 fans at each of their eight home games. The lack of stadium capacity wasn’t the issue either as the Raiders held the fourth-worst home game attendance percentage, reaching just 86-percent capacity for the season. The Raiders actually plan to tarp off about 11,000 seats for the 2013 season, bringing the Coliseum’s capacity down to about 53,000.
The issue with the stadium proposal is that, as silly as it may seem, the Raiders know they have the city of Oakland in a compromising position. The team wants to stay in Oakland, but they don’t want to fork over a whole lot of cash for the upgrade. They also could be one of the few teams courted in the NFL’s hopeful return to Los Angeles. Two L.A.-based groups already have plans in place for new football stadiums, dependent on getting a tenant to move in.
The city of Oakland seems pretty focused on keeping the Raiders inside the city limits, especially since their other two franchises are hoping to leave town — the Golden State Warriors to San Francisco and the Oakland Athletics to a new facility in San Jose. So, they will likely stretch their budget to accommodate the Raiders, even if only for a 50,000-seat that lacks the capacity or ingenuity of proposals from the likes of the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.