Oakland officials are expecting Raider owner Al Davis to officially agree today to return his football team to the city it deserted 13 years ago.
The board of directors of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum plans to authorize stadium president George Vukasin to prepare the documents at a morning meeting. Davis is expected to add his signature from Los Angeles.
“We expect a letter of intent will be faxed up to us,” said Oakland City Councilman Dick Spees, “but it’s not done until it’s done. We’ve dealt with Al before.”
Davis, it is believed, will not actually travel to Oakland until the agreement is approved by the City Council, perhaps at its scheduled meeting Tuesday night.
Oakland officials regard required approval by both the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors as mere formalities.
Raider lawyer Amy Trask spent Thursday working with officials in Oakland on the final documents. She then flew to Los Angeles to report to Davis before he made his final approval.
Davis, who decided to make the move on Wednesday morning rather than wait until a proposed $250-million stadium at Hollywood Park in Inglewood can be built, will meet with officials tonight in what could very well be a farewell dinner.
Even after all the proper parties in Oakland have approved the deal, which will include $85 million worth of improvements to the Oakland Coliseum, some league hurdles remain.
Davis has privately worried about being in clear violation of a league requirement that any franchise shift must be presented 30 days before the owners’ annual meeting. That meeting was held in March.
The Rams honored that requirement, but violated other league rules in attempting to shift their franchise from Anaheim to St. Louis. Still, league owners approved that move in April after the Rams agreed to pay a relocation fee of $46 million.
A similar demand could be made of the Raiders, who could face legal battles simply by not meeting the 30-day by-law.
Should Davis officially announce the move, a league meeting would be held in a few weeks to allow the Raider owner to plead his case before his fellow owners.
Two possible scenarios might then be set up as follows:
--Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, after hearing Davis’ case, might recommend a “no” vote.
--Owners could approve a Raider move, but demand a costly relocation fee or make Davis pay any rebates demanded by NBC, the AFC network.
League officials fully expect Davis to move, regardless of the league vote, and then fight any ensuing court battles from Oakland.
It would be the exact opposite of the court battle waged in the 1980s when the league attempted, unsuccessfully, to prevent Davis from leaving Oakland. This time, the NFL would be trying to stop him from going back.
Another legal battle could involve the San Francisco 49ers, who may demand relocation money if Davis moves back in across the Bay Area. However, the 49ers have already been compensated, since the league paid them $8 million in 1970 when the Raiders joined the NFL.
Even as the Raiders review plans to head north, another team has thrown its helmet into the ring as a possible replacement for Los Angeles. Add the Arizona Cardinals to a list of possible candidates that already includes the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The door is not shut on a move,” Cardinal General Counsel Thomas Guilfoil told the Tribune Newspapers Thursday.
Guilfoil said that desert heat early in the season has proven to be a big problem for the Cardinals.
“It’s an enormous handicap,” Guilfoil said, “bigger than we anticipated. If you take the list of all the teams in the National Football League with inadequate stadiums, that would be the list of potential people to move to California.”