The NFL’s announcement Tuesday that the Raiders will stay in their current home sent waves of jubilation through Ricky’s Sports Theatre and Grill in San Leandro, often touted as ground zero of Raider Nation.
Glasses clinked in the air, fans bought rounds of drinks, and one woman walked into the bar with tears gleaming in her eyes, said bartender Andrew Nelson.
“It was looking like a dark road where we were headed,” said the bar’s owner, Ricky Ricardo, 54. “And it turned into a bright, sunny day.”
But the excitement soon tapered off after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the Raiders could still make a move to Southern California or another city. The NFL rejected the Raiders’ bid to move to Carson, but threw the team a bone.
The team was offered $100 million toward a new stadium plus the option to join the Rams in Los Angeles if the San Diego Chargers decline to share the Inglewood stadium, which will become the new home of possibly two L.A. football teams.
Even if that deal falls through, Raiders owner Mark Davis offered little hope that his team will remain in Oakland.
At a hastily thrown-together news conference in City Hall, Mayor Libby Schaaf said she met with NFL executives last week to plead for more time to work with the Raiders. Now, the “clock is running again” to find a responsible solution that does not dip into the city’s coffers, she said.
“We have been given more time and that’s what we asked the NFL for,” she said. “I see this as an opportunity to get back on the starting line and get a deal that works.”
In the past, Schaaf has opposed using taxpayer dollars to fund a new arena. The city is still paying for renovations it made to Oakland Coliseum in the 1990s. The city shelled out $200 million to renovate the stadium for the Raiders and A’s, and the debt won’t be paid off for years.
Schaaf expressed frustrated with the quality and management of O.co Coliseum, the current name of the Raiders’ facility.
She admitted the $100-million boost from the NFL could make a “tremendous difference,” but repeatedly stressed that any deal has to be responsible to the NFL and Raiders fans “but also to our taxpayers.”
The city has not spoken with Oakland leadership since the vote, Schaaf said, but expects to speak with it next week.
After a yearlong flirtation with Los Angeles, Raiders fans found themselves in a familiar position: looking ahead to another year of negotiation to keep their beloved Raiders in their hometown.
But for now, they are celebrating.
“Everybody is still cheering,” said Nelson, the bartender. “Drinks are still being bought and hopes are high.”