ALAMEDA — Mark Davis finally has the stadium deal long sought, but he spoke mostly of frustration and sadness Tuesday in his first interview since the NFL approved the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.
“I’m not celebrating anything like I would like to be,” Davis said on the Raiders flagship radio station, 95.7 The Game.
“We are going to be building a world-class stadium in the entertainment capitol of the world. It’s going to be great for Super Bowls and everything else.
“But I still have a feeling for the fans in the Bay Area. And I’ve met with a number of them. And anything I say to them isn’t going to soothe them, and it makes this whole thing bittersweet.”
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In a 24-minute conversation with host J.T. The Brick, the Raiders owner recounted the tortured history of negotiations in trying to keep the NFL franchise in Oakland.
Davis sounded most rueful over not being able to find a viable solution at the current site of the Oakland Coliseum. He envisioned a way in which that venue would be demolished and reborn with a baseball-only venue for the A’s and a football-only venue for the Raiders.
Davis told 95.7 The Game they were so interested in that scenario that they approached the A’s within the past few years in search of a partnership. He recalled a lunch with himself, Raiders team president Marc Badain, A’s then-managing partner Lew Wolff and A’s then-president Mike Crowley at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.
“We offered them the opportunity to purchase 20 percent of the Raiders and to do what I said about building two stadiums on that site,” Davis said. “And the message from them was … that they did not want to remain on that site, especially if we were to build there. But they would love to buy 20 percent of the Raiders. And that was really the last time we talked to the A’s about it.”
In an e-mail, Wolff confirmed the meeting but said there were snags from the start. He said the lease the A’s had signed had a clause that allowed for the Raiders to oust the baseball team if they decided to do a new football venue.
As for the opportunity to buy 20 percent of the football franchise, that never got off the ground, either.
“Mark did mention something to the effect that he had a passive interest that might be for sale. My recall was that I was clear that were not passive buyers,” Wolff wrote. “No terms, price, details were discussed as best I can recall. Our goal then was to remain in our market as it is today. Dave Kaval is working hard on meeting that goal as is our ownership.”
Davis, meanwhile, said the Raiders continued to pursue other options at the Coliseum location with the City of Oakland. But those talks never progressed toward the “world class” stadium plan he envisioned.
“I do believe it’s a phenomenal site,” Davis said. “I’ve said it all along. The site in Oakland is phenomenal. And Sundays at that stadium are the greatest. And the plans that the city (proposed) I think it would compromise that game day experience.”
NFL owners recently voted 31-1 to approve the Raiders move to Las Vegas, where they will open a $1.9 billion stadium in the Nevada desert in 2020.
In an awkward twist, the team will stay at the Oakland Coliseum for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Davis recognizes there is work to be done to make peace with Bay Area fans. But his early conversations with the people of Oakland have been painful.
“I’ve sat down with a number of fans in the last week and talked to them. And I’m still trying to figure that out,” Davis said. “It’s not an easy thing to do. But I believe I owe it to them to sit down and listen and see if there is anything that works for everybody.
“I understand that there is anger. Disappointment. And I just think that it should be pointed at me.”