NFL will defer to Raiders on Oakland stadium pursuit

I’ve been getting a lot of questions this morning about a story in the San Francisco Chronicle suggesting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is making calls to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf “pushing the idea of letting a predominantly African American investment group, led by former 49ers star Ronnie Lott, help build a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland.”

You can read the story here.

Before getting into the league’s involvement in this – and my league sources made it very clear as recently as this morning they will defer to the Raiders on their Oakland stadium pursuit – the Raiders position on Lott’s group or any other group is secondary at this point to the various obstacles impeding a stadium deal in Oakland.

As it relates specifically to Lott and his team, the fairest and most accurate way to put it upon canvassing the Raiders is this: The Raiders have tremendous respect for Lott as an NFL icon and former Raiders player, but from their perspective the issues in Oakland as it relates to land use and the long-term lease the Oakland A’s have at the Oakland Coliseum are far more pressing and pertinent in securing a stadium deal than identifying a potential developer or investor to help bridge any funding gap.

The Raiders can’t move forward in Oakland – with Lott or anyone else – until the city of Oakland and the County of Alameda provide clarity on usage and cost of the 120 acres the Raiders wish to use for stadiums for themselves and the A’s.

Which is why the Raiders have turned their attention to Las Vegas, where they have made a commitment to relocate if Nevada approves funding on a proposed stadium.

As far as the commissioner making calls on Lott’s behalf, upon doing some poking around, I think it’s a bit ambitious to conclude Goodell is making calls urging Mayor Schaaf to support a group led by Lott for the reasons described. Or that the commissioner is backing any particular Oakland plan – let alone one without the current support of the Raiders.

The league’s advice to Oakland has always been – and continues to be – to remain open to the interests of the community, including developers, but to place the Raiders at the center of any proposal.

The league is very clear – and I check in on this periodically, including today – they will defer to the Raiders on their Oakland stadium pursuit. It’s the Raiders call to determine and figure out whether there is a viable proposal to pursue.

And as a league source indicated this morning, the NFL is abundantly transparent on that stance.