NFL Wire News

Raiders in Oakland for 2015, NFL seeks two future L.A. teams

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OAKLAND, Calif. — With San Antonio, Texas disappearing in the rear view mirror and Los Angeles evaporating for now as that recurring mirage on the horizon, the Oakland Raiders are expected to continue playing at least one more season in the O.co Coliseum.

This comes on the heels of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell squelching the probability of any team moving to Los Angeles in 2015.

But league sources confirm this is merely a prelude to the league becoming more active next year in fulfilling a long-held dream of creating an environment for two teams in Los Angeles, which has been without NFL football for 20 years.

And, in the long term, the Raiders and St. Louis Rams — both with history in Los Angeles — still remain at the top of any list of potential candidates for the future.

Meanwhile, despite a lack of progress on a long term lease at the Coliseum, Raiders owner Mark Davis is expected to sign a one-year extension there, The Sports Xchange confirmed as the team prepared to play its final game of the season there Sunday against the Buffalo Bills.

The Raiders finish the 2014 season next Sunday at Denver.

Davis, who has quietly made amends with other team owners as a peace offering in the wake of his father’s many legal and financial duels, appears to have little choice for next season.

Earlier in the week, Goodell effectively eliminated Los Angeles as a landing spot for any NFL team next year. Sources confirm he notified at least three potential movers — the Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Rams, all former L.A. tenants — that no team would move to that southern California megalopolis until at least 2016.

Those three franchises are each on a year-to-year lease and potentially could file relocation applications for the 2015 season on Jan. 1. But that probability evaporated when Goodell strongly suggested such actions would not be ratified.

The Chargers announced earlier in the week they will not be terminating their lease at Quallcom Stadium for 2015. The Raiders and Rams are expected to follow suit shortly.

As for Los Angeles, league sources indicate Goodell should announce within the next 60 days — possibly at this season’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. — that the league will work in 2015 to locate a stadium site there that could handle two teams, much as the facility in East Rutherford, N.J., is home to the New York Giants and Jets.

This vision for the NFL actually goes back decades to when Pete Rozelle was commissioner and had designs on creating a major, two-team facility in Los Angeles in the 1980s, which Raiders owner Al Davis believed to be at the heart of the league fighting so hard against the Raiders’ move there.

Behind the legal brilliance of one-time San Francisco mayor and famed anti-trust lawyer Joe Alioto, the Raiders infamously defied the league and moved to Los Angeles in 1983 without the official blessing of league owners.

Los Angeles was the original home of the Chargers when the American Football League debuted in 1960, but they moved to San Diego the next season. The Rams, formerly of Cleveland in the original American Football League (1936), joined the NFL in 1937 and moved to the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1946, a year after winning their first NFL championship.

The Rams played in neighboring Orange County’s Anaheim baseball Stadium from 1980-1994. Both the Raiders and Rams left the Los Angeles area after the 1994 season, one going back to Oakland and the other to St. Louis. Los Angeles has been without an NFL team for 20 years.

Although Davis would not confirm that an extension is imminent, he re-affirmed his goal to keep the team in Oakland.

“Getting a deal done here has always been what we’re trying to do,” Davis said Saturday night. “These fans are unbelievable. They came out in the rain on a Thursday night to support an 0-10 team in the win against Kansas City. They sent a message.”

There are already plans to distribute renewal forms to current season ticket holders as soon as the extension is signed.

Although San Antonio was mentioned during the last few months, league sources report that it was the city that was the aggressor for the Raiders and others rather than the other way around. The Raiders did oblige that city with two meetings, one in San Antonio and another in Oakland.

However, the future location of both the Raiders and Oakland A’s — as well as the Rams — is hardly settled.

In Oakland, there have been numerous meetings, but little progress, between the Raiders and Floyd Kephart, who heads New City Development LLC and wants to build a multi-purpose facility on the site of the current Coliseum. The A’s are key element in getting a new stadium simply because baseball plays so many more games per season.

However, Davis has taken action to make a second franchise move to southern California acceptable to officials from the league and other teams. Although nothing was formally announced, since inheriting the team after his father’s death on Oct. 8, 2011, Davis made major financial settlements, in the tens of millions of dollars, to address penalties and legal conflicts with the league, teams and even some former players.

These actions are perceived as paving the way if the Raiders want to move.

Rams owner Stan Kroenke owns the real estate at Hollywood Park, one of the top three potential sites the NFL is expected to investigate. The Rams have a deadline of Jan. 28 to declare if they extend their lease. St. Louis made a good faith gesture by not exercising its right to extend that lease another 10 years, which would prevented the team from moving during that time. Absent that extension the city is focusing on improving the team’s home there for the long term.

Bottom line: Los Angeles waits for the NFL at least another year, but remains an active and major consideration for possibly two teams in the future.

–Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, has covered the NFL since the 1960s, including the Raiders’ original move to Los Angeles — and back.


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