SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Raiders owner Mark Davis walked into a makeshift Black Hole outside The Ritz-Carlton joining a throng of protesters, and vowed to do all he can to keep his team in Oakland. Even as he and Chargers owner Dean Spanos moved ahead on plans for a stadium project in Southern California.
Davis said he will know by June 21 from the City of Oakland and Alameda County about a possible preliminary financing plan for $400 million to build a new stadium in the East Bay he said would cost $900 million. He has $500 million committed.
Davis signed “Stay in Oakland” posters in the middle of approximately 30 protesters who only moments earlier were chanting, “Stay in Oakland! Oakland Raiders!” They then changed their cheer to “Thank you, Mark!”
“What’s up, guys? Hey, listen, you guys are the best,” Davis told the crowd. “I’m trying all I can do to keep this team in Oakland, OK? I don’t know what to do, I really don’t know. We’re trying. I’m not trying to divide any fan base. Every time I talk to anybody, I’m trying to stay in Oakland. That’s my No. 1 choice, but we can’t do this forever. I really appreciate you all, I really do.”
He told the fans he has “a whole staff that wants to stay in Oakland.”
Davis would like to build near the current, rundown Oakland Coliseum that the Raiders share with baseball’s Oakland Athletics. He said he had a three-hour dinner last week with Oakland’s City council president.
Still, Davis doesn’t know where he stands with the city.
“Selfishly we’d like to have that land all to ourselves, but we’d like the A’s to stay, we’d like the Raiders to stay,” Davis said. “We’d like to build a baseball and a football stadium, maintain the parking that we have so we have a game-day experience with tailgating and everything else. But I don’t want to build a football stadium in the corner of a parking lot, leave the current Coliseum standing, build a beautiful new stadium and then be in a construction zone for the next three or four years while they tear down the Coliseum where it stands and build a new baseball stadium.”
Davis reiterated he has no plans to sell the team in his lifetime, nor consider moving it to St. Louis.
“I’m going to remain controlling owner of the Raiders,” Davis said. “The Raiders, they were my father’s life. It means a lot to me to perpetuate his legacy and bring this organization back to greatness.”
Raiders fan Ray Perez, who goes by “Dr. Death” and was in face paint and costume, led the group that also included some Chargers supporters holding signs reading, “Save Our Bolts.”
“His actions need to meet his words,” Perez said before Davis spoke. “Why hasn’t he asked anyone to help him here in Oakland? He’s had this problem for a decade, and yet all his actions are in Carson. It’s a simple rendering, what do you want your stadium to look like? Have a goal here in Oakland.
“It’s not just football. It’s more than football.”
One fan suggested starting a GoFundMe page to earn money for the Raiders, and the idea of a task force also was mentioned.
Meanwhile, across the bay at Raiders headquarters, new coach Jack Del Rio is trying to keep his team’s attention on the field.
“We’re not naive to know there are things going on,” he said Tuesday. “Really our focus is just on trying to be as good a football team as we can be. We’re trying to prepare a football team for the upcoming season. It’s really inside these walls about that, about football, about competing, about learning the system and challenging each other and building a brotherhood and beginning to get that chemistry and that bond and all of that.”