There’s more than one Oakland-based sports team that’s been scoping out San Antonio as a possible place to relocate.
Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and two top lieutenants met recently with several San Antonio officials to discuss the potential of moving his NFL team from the Bay Area to the Alamo City, local leaders involved in the talks confirmed Tuesday.
On the weekend of July 18, Davis met with the officials, including Henry Cisneros, then-Mayor Julián Castro, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, Mario Hernandez of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and both Richard Perez and David McGee, the president and chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, respectively.
Late Tuesday, after the Express-News published a version of this story on its websites, Sculley issued a memo to the City Council.
“I was asked to meet two weeks ago with the owner of the Oakland Raiders, Mark Davis, and members of his staff. Mr. Davis has expressed interest in a possible relocation of his NFL team to San Antonio and we are engaged in preliminary due diligence,” she wrote. “The agenda for this visit included a tour of the Alamodome and meetings with local business leaders.”
Sculley wrote that those discussions were preliminary and confidential and that she would update the council as things progressed.
San Antonio has often been used as a bargaining chip for pro sports franchises trying to negotiate better deals in their own respective cities, but sources have characterized Davis’ interest in San Antonio to be at least somewhat more serious. He is clearly perturbed with his current situation in Oakland, where the team’s lease expires after the 2014-15 season.
Cisneros, who led the charge to build the Alamodome when he was mayor, has been described by sources as the architect of the meeting. His son-in-law, Brad Badger, is in corporate sponsorship sales for the Raiders.
With some upgrades, the Alamodome could be ready for a 2015-16 NFL season, though it would be a temporary home at best. NFL teams likely would need 100 suites, and the Alamodome currently has 52. It physically could facilitate the addition of 48 more, but funding has yet to be earmarked by the city for such upgrades.
If the Raiders moved here, though, Davis is expected to seek a new stadium within a few years, after the team had proved itself in the Alamo City.
Color me shocked by that. As we know, the Oakland A’s have sniffed around San Antonio lately. They share the same stadium as the Raiders and have had similar concerns about its condition and their lease, but they just re-upped for ten years (with an escape clause after two), so that would seem to be off the table for now. While I’ve argued that San Antonio isn’t really suitable for a Major League Baseball team, I don’t think they’d have any trouble selling out ten NFL games (counting two preseason ones). San Antonio hosted the New Orleans Saints in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina and there was some talk about the Saints staying there, but obviously that never happened. The main issue from the NFL’s perspective would be that San Antonio is a much smaller media market. Media market size is one reason why the NFL continues to be obsessed with putting a team back in Los Angeles, even by convoluted means. San Antonio makes for a nice bargaining chip, but for now at least it’s hard to see it as anything else.
There’s one more factor to consider:
NFL owners — including the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans — would have to vote on the deal.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has responded to an Express-News report that the Raiders are interested in relocating to San Antonio.
“San Antonio is very important to the Dallas Cowboys. We have the exact same percentage of fans in San Antonio as we do in Plano, Texas, about 98%. I don’t make a lot of this. At all.”
Jerry Jones is already saying that he would be an obstacle to any such relocation. The Raiders would need to get the support of 24 out of the 32 franchises to make the move, meaning that Jones would only need to convince eight of his buddies to vote No. (Texans owner Bob McNair seems to be more willing to accommodate the idea if it comes down to that.) So file this under “interesting stuff that will probably never amount to anything more” and let’s move on for now. Randy Harvey and the unequivocally negative Robert Rivard have more.
One more thing, from Trail Blazers:
Here’s a question: Gov. Rick Perry has spent millions luring businesses to Texas from his business-subsidy fund. If this is a real effort by Oakland to consider Texas as home for its NFL team, might the future governor — either Greg Abbott or Wendy Davis — be amenable to sweetening a deal if necessary to bring the Raiders to the Alamo City?
My personal answer is no, they shouldn’t. The NFL, its owners and franchises, they all have plenty of money. Especially given the likelihood of money being thrown at the Raiders for a new stadium, whether here or in Oakland or elsewhere, there’s no need to pour even more sugar on top of that.