Oakland is suing the NFL over the relocation of the Raiders, and that raises serious doubts about where the team will play next season while its Las Vegas stadium is being built.
“All options are on the table,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said Wednesday at the league’s annual December meetings.
Well, maybe not all options. Although he wouldn’t rule out such venues as California Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, or even SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, Davis said he’s not interested in playing games in San Antonio.
“The only thing about San Antonio is the turf,” he said. “I’m not really a fan of that.”
Marc Badain, Raiders president, said the club had offered Oakland $7.5 million for the 2019 season but in the wake of the city filing suit in federal court Tuesday “that’s now off the table.”
In its lawsuit, which is filed against all 32 teams, Oakland calls the relocation illegal and demands compensation for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.
“I’ve got two words for the lawsuit,” Davis said. “One is ‘meritless,’ and the other one the attorneys will understand is ‘malicious.’ I’ll leave it at that and let the attorneys do the rest of the speaking for me.”
He said that staying put for one more season is also an option, but that paying rent to an entity that’s suing you is hard to swallow.
“Emotionally, I don’t want to pay for my own lawsuit,” he said. “But for the fans, it’s something I’ve got to think about.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would probably need to know by the end of January where the Raiders plan to play next season.
“It has nothing to do with the litigation,” Goodell said. “It’s simply about trying to make the schedule, to get confirmation. Mark has expressed that he’d like to be in Oakland.”
If the Raiders were to leave their current home, where they have played since 1995, the most logical option would be staying in the Bay Area. Conceivably, that could mean playing at California, Stanford, or at the home of the San Francisco Giants.
It’s somewhat less likely the Raiders would play at the home of the San Francisco 49ers, a notion that surely would have rankled late Raiders owner Al Davis, or that the league would allow them to play in San Diego, especially as the Chargers are looking to find their footing in Los Angeles.
If the Raiders were to go to Las Vegas a year early and play for a year in a temporary venue, that could bleed off a lot of excitement there about the move, especially if the team were to play poorly.
As it is, they’re in the AFC West cellar.