Oakland has extended by 30 days its deadline for Raider acceptance or rejection of the city’s offer to return the football team to the Bay Area, authorities there announced Thursday. The original 45-day period had been scheduled to expire today.
The disclosure by both Oakland and Alameda County officials discredits reports that the Raiders might seek an immediate termination of their contract to play in the Los Angeles Coliseum through 1991 so they could return to Oakland this season. The regular National Football League season will begin before expiration of the new deadline.
The Oakland announcement said the 30-day extension was necessary because geological tests on the costs and time required to lower the stadium floor and expand the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum have not been completed, and therefore the city and county could not guarantee the terms of their $127-million offer to the Raiders.
The new delay in the time allowed for a decision by team owner Al Davis over where his team will play comes at a time when negotiations to keep the team in Los Angeles have apparently made little recent progress.
Two weeks ago, describing a new offer to Davis by the Los Angeles Coliseum’s private managers, Spectacor Management Group, participants in the discussions said they were awaiting a response within that same week.
But Spectacor chief Ed Snider said Davis has not responded to the offer yet.
While Snider said that “his people are working very hard with our people in reviewing documents and so forth,” a Los Angeles Coliseum commissioner who has been active in efforts to keep the team expressed impatience with Davis this week.
“I think he has the final best offer within 1% of what Oakland or Los Angeles is going to give him,” Commissioner Richard Riordan said. “I’d bet my life he knows that. So, I’d say, ‘Al, in the name of God, make up your mind, for the good of L.A. and for the good of Oakland.’ ”
As usual, there was no public comment from Davis or his aides. Raiders officials have occasionally been talking to both Oakland and Los Angeles newsmen, but always on condition that nothing be attributed directly or indirectly.
The continued uncertainty over the Raiders’ future may be having an adverse effect on the team’s ability to draw fans in Los Angeles. Attendance at the first exhibition game two weeks ago was announced at 28,000 in the 92,000-seat Coliseum, although some observers believed it was less than that.
Riordan said he believes that a Davis commitment to stay in Los Angeles in exchange for Coliseum renovation and private advance payments to the team “would have a positive effect on his fan support. . . . It is getting late, however, for him to sell many more season tickets.”