To those cities and politicians who have wheeled and dealed, dreamed and schemed, comes this latest bulletin: Owner Al Davis signed a contract Tuesday to keep the Raiders in Los Angeles, ending a three-year bidding war that has come full circle and left in its wake the ruination of careers, dreams and--in the case of Irwindale--just plain ruins.
Xavier Hermosillo, come on out of that Irwindale gravel pit. You'll always have the summer of 1987, when you landed the deal to bring the Raiders to your cozy little town by the freeway.
Oakland Mayor Lionel Wilson, sorry that fourth term is doomed. Just remember how big you were for those few moments in March, when the prodigal Al Davis agreed to come home.
Dear Sacramento, one year ago you were really looking smart. You still are. And so was that $50 million you offered those Raiders.
Finally, to Tom never-give-up-hope Bradley: Was Tuesday as sweet as Jan. 18, 1980, when it was disclosed that the Raiders would replace the Rams at the Coliseum?
Davis and Spectacor Management Group, the private firm that manages the Los Angeles Coliseum, agreed Monday to a 20-year lease in exchange for a privately financed, $145-million renovation of the Coliseum. This includes stadium improvements the Raiders claimed they were promised when they moved here from Oakland in 1982.
In addition, it is said the Raiders will receive $32 million in advance cash payments from Spectacor and forgiveness of a $10-million debt the team owes the Coliseum Commission.
But with all the fanfare, there is still a catch: The contract could be void in a few years if Spectacor does not produce an environmental impact report allowing the multimillion dollar renovation of the Coliseum and raise the private financing to ,pay for it.
Plans to renovate the 67-year-old Coliseum call for retention of the historic existing exterior walls. The interior, however, will be drastically altered to include the following:
--A reduction in stadium capacity from 92,500 seats to 70,000 for Raider games and 85,000 for USC games. Davis said Tuesday he actually wants only 65,000 seats.
--Construction of as many as 250 luxury boxes at mid-level of the stadium and 15,000 club seats.
The environmental impact report is expected to take a year. Reconstruction would begin after the 1991 Raider and USC seasons. During the 1992 season, both USC and the Raiders will have to play elsewhere. Speculation is the Raiders will play at Dodger Stadium and USC at Anaheim Stadium.
The longstanding dispute between the Raiders and the Coliseum was resolved last week when the commission, which no longer runs the facility, voted to drop its $58-million breach of contract suit against the Raiders if the team signed an agreement to stay.
That suit was filed after the Raiders announced in August of 1987 that they intended to move to Irwindale, where officials offered to build a stadium in a gravel pit. But the controversy created by Davis and his team started much earlier.
Here's Davis and his Raiders recording history in The Times headlines:
Raiders Defy League, Court, Head for L.A. (March 2, 1980)--Not yet. The City of Oakland claimed eminent domain and the state Supreme Court sent the trial to Superior Court. A court order blocked the Raider move, and the team played in Oakland through the 1981 season.
Rozelle Antitrust Theory: From Here to Antiquity (Aug. 19, 1982)--A federal court jury in May issued a $49-million judgment in antitrust damages against the NFL. The Raiders moved to Los Angeles that fall.
Raiders' Fans Are Screaming: They Are Upset by Poor Seats, Missing Tickets, Gouging (Aug. 27, 1982)--Even before the first game, fans were on Al Davis.
Raiders Feel at Home in L.A. and Win, 24-3 (Aug. 30, 1982)--40,906 fans showed up Aug. 29, 1982 for the Raiders' first home game, an exhibition victory over the Green Bay Packers. After the game, Lyle Alzado said: "I thought it (the fans' reception) was good. It's L.A. Either you like it and understand it, or you don't. I like the L.A. people. They're crazy."
Raiders to Be Paid $4 Million: Coliseum Board Sees 'Moral Obligation' to Al Davis (Feb. 2, 1984)--Even though the Raiders won the Super Bowl in January, at least one county official was prophetic about giving Davis $4 million before he signed a final contract: "This could mean that Davis could move the Raiders tomorrow, take the $4 million and pay no penalty," said Donavan Main, then the principal deputy county counsel.
It's Official: Davis Signs Contract to Keep Raiders in L.A. (Dec. 9, 1984)--Davis committed the Raiders to the Coliseum through 1991, with options through 2006.
Raiders to Install Long-Awaited Luxury Boxes in Coliseum (Aug. 21, 1986)--Stay tuned.
Seating Ruckus Clouds Coliseum Future; Dispute Over Boxes Reconfiguration May Bring a Raiders Move (Mar. 22, 1987)--Davis said he would not build luxury boxes unless the Coliseum Commission agrees to an $8 million to $15 million reconfiguration of regular seating. The Commission president refused Davis' demand.
Raiders Explore Carson, Rose Bowl Options (May 30, 1987)--The Carson City Raiders?
Raiders Sign Pact to Build Stadium on Irwindale Site (Aug. 21, 1987)--Here's where Xavier Hermosillo, the flamboyant official spokesman for Irwindale, became famous. Here's why the Coliseum Commission filed a $57-million suit against the Raiders.
They're Singing: You Had It Coming To Ya: Raider Move (to Irwindale) has Oakland Smiling (Aug. 28, 1987)--This tune will also change.
One of Irwindale's Negotiators in Raiders Deal Gives Up Role (May 24, 1988)--Hermosillo said adios, and later, so did the Raiders, when Irwindale ran into legal, financial and environmental problems.
The Oakland/Sacramento story: Oakland Dreams of a Return (April 2, 1989). $50-million for Raiders Okd by Sacramento--Inducement for Move Approved Unanimously (Sept. 14, 1989). Davis Approves a Return to Oakland by Raiders in '92 (March 13, 1990). Oakland Moves to Kill Deal With Raiders (April 18, 1990). Oakland Extends Deadline for Relocation Decision by Raiders--Negotiations in L.A. Are Apparently Making Little Progress (Aug. 31, 1990).
Meanwhile: Oakland Mayor Falls Victim to Raiders Deal (June 7, 1990); and Bradley Holds Out Hope That the Raiders Will Stay (March 14, 1990).
One last gasp: C'Mon Al, Just Give Us A Little Hint (Sept. 9, 1990).