Hopes Fade for Fast Agreement With Raiders on Coliseum Renovations : Football: Team owner Al Davis’ demand for a $17.5-million advance payment and the bowing out of a stadium management partner are serious obstacles to a deal, sources say.
A month after the Raiders deal to move to Oakland collapsed under the weight of public opposition in the Bay Area, hopes of a quick agreement to keep the team playing in a renovated Los Angeles Coliseum have diminished sharply, according to sources close to talks with the team.
Just in the last 10 days, efforts by Mayor Tom Bradley to encourage Spectacor Management Group and team owner Al Davis to settle on terms that would allow a Coliseum modernization project to begin immediately after this year’s football season have come up against serious obstacles.
“Given the failure to reach an agreement, that deadline is slipping,” Deputy Mayor Mark Fabiani said Wednesday. “We had hoped that an environmental impact report and other approvals could be secured by the next Super Bowl. But that process can’t begin until there is an agreement. Unless it happens soon, construction may not be possible until after the 1991 season.”
Two developments in particular have undermined the hope Bradley expressed on April 18--the day after the Oakland deal was killed--that an agreement with the Raiders could be reached “in all haste,” facilitating a Coliseum project expected to cost more than $100 million.
First, the decision of MCA Inc. on May 7 to bow out as a partner of Spectacor in managing the Coliseum has led Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider to put the talks with the Raiders on hold until he negotiates terms for buying out MCA’s interest. That process that could take weeks.
Second, Raiders owner Davis has refused to retreat from his stand on a $17.5-million advance payment. Davis wants the payment made at the time an agreement is reached, guaranteeing that the Coliseum renovation will go forward. Whether it did or not, the team could keep the money, just as it kept $10 million given it by Irwindale in 1987 as a promise of a stadium that never materialized.
Davis believes that he needs such a guarantee, because so many parties--from Los Angeles to Irwindale to Oakland--have told him that they were going to build or renovate stadiums and then have failed to perform.
According to two sources privy to the situation, who declined to be identified, Snider told Bradley recently that Spectacor would be willing to put up only $2 million as an advance payment.
Bradley then approached Davis and sought to get the Raiders owner to reduce his request for an advance payment to $5 million. The sources said the mayor believed that he could prevail on Spectacor to ante up that much.
But Davis so far has refused, the sources said. He did agree, however, that once an advance payment was made, Spectacor could have as long as six years to renovate the Coliseum--instead of the two years originally set as the limit.
Even if the talks resume soon, the advance payment issue may put them at an impasse, the sources said.
In addition to the advance payment, Spectacor also expects to have to pay $1 million for an environmental impact report, $2 million for architectural plans and $1 million for lobbying and attorneys fees in connection with the project approval before it could be certain that the renovation would proceed and that financing could be obtained.
The prospect of having to commit so much money--without being certain of the approvals--was a factor, the sources said, in MCA Chairman Lew Wasserman’s decision to pull his company out of the Coliseum private partnership.
Wasserman, one source said, lunched with Davis to see if he would reduce his advance payment request. But the luncheon broke up in disharmony and Wasserman insisted on an immediate public announcement that MCA was pulling out of the Coliseum, even before talking about the terms of the pullout with Snider. Fabiani, Bradley’s deputy, said Wednesday that the mayor remains convinced that a compromise is possible on the advance payment issue, and that project approvals could be obtained if a Raider-Spectacor agreement calls for retaining the present Coliseum walls and the stadium’s historic elements.
If, however, Spectacor and the Raiders are unable to come to an agreement, Bradley might pursue unspecified other options. Fabiani said that although the Coliseum Commission’s agreement with Spectacor and MCA allows them as long as four years to reach agreement to keep the Raiders, or bring in some other professional football team, the MCA pullout creates new legal conditions that could put that four-year term in doubt.
As the talks in Los Angeles encounter difficulties, Oakland authorities report they are continuing negotiations with the Raiders on a possible new deal, although a spokeswoman for Mayor Lionel Wilson said this week no agreement is imminent.