ALAMEDA — Mark Davis finally has the stadium deal he long sought, but the Raiders owner spoke mostly of frustration and sadness Tuesday in his first interview since the NFL approved the team’s 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.
His long list of missed chances in Oakland apparently included a little known attempt to team up with the A’s. Davis said on the air Tuesday that the Raiders wanted to tear down the Coliseum, add some infrastructure, and then re-build with two new stadiums — one for baseball only and one for solely football.
Davis told 95.7 The Game that the Raiders were so interested in that scenario that he and team president Marc Badain pitched the idea to A’s then-managing partner Lew Wolff and A’s then-president Mike Crowley during a lunch meeting with the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley in recent years.
“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 A’s lease at the time included a clause that would allow for the Raiders to oust the baseball team if Davis decided to do a new football-only 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.”
In a 24-minute conversation with host J.T. The Brick, the Raiders owner recounted other highlights from the tortured history of negotiations to stay in Oakland.
Davis said that even after the A’s meeting failed to make progress, 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 in making peace again with his 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 — not Derek Carr, not Khalil Mack, and not the head coach, Jack Del Rio. Because those guys want to bring a championship to the Bay Area.”