04 January 2009

Another slice of Raiders may be for sale

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that the Raiders are in talks to sell at least 10% of team to a group of LA-based investors. As usual, Raider management has steadfastly denied the rumor.

The real issue here is that of controlling interest of the team, which has been in Al Davis's hands for more than three decades. It's difficult to see Davis as a figurehead given his penchant for meddling in everything from personnel moves and gameplans to stadium deals, even with his somewhat advanced age and health concerns.

Unfortunately for Davis, he doesn't hold many cards. The chances of Davis getting a stadium deal in the LA area without ceding control are slim. The NFL's G3 loan program has dried up and talk of a new fund has been tabled as the league bundles up for a cold economic winter. There are no Irwindales out there willing to give him a fat check, and the only stadium deal on the horizon is Ed Roski's plan in City of Industry, which would be privately financed. Roski, according to the LA Times, is quietly pursuing a team. Couple that with Roger Goodell's curious December visit to Oakland, and it would appear that something is happening behind the scenes.

While Roski and his SoCal cohorts get their affairs in order, talks continue between the Raiders, Oakland, and the Coliseum Authority. Of course, if Davis needed a cash infusion to keep the team going, how would he have the cash needed to get a Coliseum revamp or new stadium started?

Our two local NFL teams are in a similar position economically. They won't admit it, but either would love the other to leave posthaste as it would help crystallize support for their own local stadium efforts. Yet they must both look at Roski's vision and see dollar signs. Both ownership groups want to hold on with a death grip, but may not be able to in order to move or even get a stadium deal done locally without ceding control. And both teams have been woefully mismanaged over the past decade. There's a race here, but I'm not sure what it's for.