Negotiations between Al Davis and Sacramento officials made substantial progress last week toward moving the NFL team to the state capital, say some of the city's biggest financiers.
Some of the best indications came when Sacramento City Council passed a $93-million bond issue that included $50 million for Davis to relocate and the city's finance officer was dispatched to New York to get a rating on the bonds.
Richard Riordan, president of the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, said he was asked Wednesday to make new overtures to Davis, but has not spoken with the Raider owner.
"He's a guy who likes to keep you on edge," Riordan said. "We're developing more land around the Coliseum to make it safer and prettier. We have a master plan on security. But there's only one chance in a hundred the Raiders will stay here.
"I think Sacramento is going to get them--if they can pay Davis the $50 million they promised. They've got the land and are planning a brand-new stadium. It's an affluent, growing area, and he'll sell out to the highest bidder. He may keep talking to us, of course. He'll be here for a while yet, so he might as well make the best of it."
Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin said the finance chief returned Wednesday with a lot of questions, and she did not expect to know the bond rating for a few weeks.
Rudin said she and another council member had reservations but agreed to join in a unanimous vote demonstrating a mandate to Davis in exchange for assurances that the public would not be taxed to support the franchise if projected revenues fail to meet expenses. She said the Sacramento Sports Assn. was asked to guarantee any default up to about $7 million a year.
The mayor and other community leaders acknowledged that Joe Benvenuti, a prosperous Sports Assn. member who owns most of the land for the proposed stadium, and developers, Angelo Tsakopoulos and Fred Anderson, are the keys in those assurances.
Buzz Oates, formerly a partner of Benvenuti's, was skeptical of such a guarantee when first interviewed last week, but after discussing the issue with Benvenuti and Tsakopoulos he was more optimistic.
Tsakopoulos said: "Joe will sign (the guarantee); it will benefit him to develop the property--it'll go sky-high. Davis will come to a wealthy area where there's only one other pro team to split the loyalty. It's a great opportunity for Sacramento and the Raiders, so it'll happen."
Benvenuti later said: "We haven't refined it yet, but it's getting there. I think Al (Davis) is ready to do what's fair. He has been in it more years than we have, but he realizes he personally needs fan support, not just the Raiders, and this area will make him a hero.
"I'm not worried about the city bonds; I'd guarantee them. The income will more than cover them. It may be a little close the first year or two, but don't forget, Davis doesn't get the entire fee up front."
There have been at least two threats of lawsuits to challenge one aspect or another of the Raider deal, the most probable one made by the Sacramento Hotel Assn., which has protested a 1.5% increase in the hotel tax. Its spokesmen could not be reached for comment.