While the rejuvenated Raiders make a playoff run, Oakland city officials claim to be taking yet another shot at financing a new stadium to keep the team in town.
Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio said Monday that the city has hired a stadium consultant to come up with new financing options that won’t include taxpayer money to build a $900 million stadium.
The Raiders say they need about $400 million in public money for a new stadium to replace the dilapidated Coliseum. Local leaders are reluctant to pitch in given that they are still paying off debt from a 1995 remodel that brought the Raiders back from Los Angeles.
Cappio said a consultant is expected to present a proposal privately to the City Council and to the Alameda Board of Supervisors, perhaps as soon as this week.
“We’re trying to get some sense of common ground,” she said.
Cappio said the city can commit money to upgrade infrastructure, including storm drains and better lighting, as the city would need to do that anyway for future use of the grounds.
Raiders owner Mark Davis made a surprise appearance at an NFL-sponsored town hall in Oakland last week, saying he wanted the team to stay in Oakland but needed local help to do so.
The Raiders are also working on a joint deal with the division-rival San Diego Chargers to build a $1.7 billion stadium in Carson outside of Los Angeles.
The team said it had no comment on Oakland’s latest effort.
But the players are talking … about the playoffs, the possibility of the team’s first postseason berth in 13 years. What might have seemed farfetched when Oakland lost a lopsided opener to Cincinnati in September is now a distinct possibility after the Raiders put together their second straight complete performance, beating the New York Jets 34-20 on Sunday.
“It’s fine for some people to play from the underdog role, but I don’t like it,” star safety Charles Woodson said. “I don’t like being the underdog. I want to be expected to win games. I want these guys to go out there and be expected to win games. Yeah, it’s a little premature to be thinking that far ahead, playoff-wise, but there’s no reason you can’t think of yourself as a playoff team.”
Woodson is a big reason why. The 39-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down. His league-leading fifth interception helped the Raiders (4-3) beat the Jets to become one of five AFC teams with winning records.
Oakland plays another playoff contender this week when the Raiders travel to Pittsburgh (4-4). A win would keep Oakland atop the AFC wild-card race with wins over two of the closest competitors in the Steelers and Jets.
What a difference a year makes.
At this point last year, the Raiders were 0-8 and on their way to 10 straight losses to open the season and 16 in a row overall. But with a new mindset instilled by Jack Del Rio’s coaching staff, a potent offense led by emerging star Derek Carr and an improved defense anchored by Woodson and Khalil Mack, the Raiders are in their best position since going to the Super Bowl in 2002.
Now, instead of the questions last year about whether the Raiders would even win a game, the focus is on whether Oakland needs to guard against overconfidence.
“I don’t really understand this question of guarding against. We’re a 4-3 team,” Del Rio said. “We’ve battled each and every week. We’re going to continue to battle each and every week. These kind of questions are kind of silly to me.”
While Oakland reached a 5-4 mark in 2010 before finishing 8-8 and made it to 7-4 the following year before a late-season collapse left them at .500 again and out of the playoffs, the success this season appears to be more lasting.
With Carr playing better than any quarterback for the Raiders since Rich Gannon was winning the MVP in 2002, Oakland has a core to build around with fellow youngsters like Mack, Amari Cooper, Latavius Murray, TJ Carrie, Gabe Jackson and Mario Edwards Jr.
But they also know there is plenty of work to be done to achieve their goal of a playoff berth.
“We can’t come out next week and not do the same thing,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “We’ve got to keep this thing going, and that’s the thing I’m trying to express to the team. Let’s keep building.”