The Raiders might have to leave Oakland even sooner than planned, thanks to a dispute over hundreds of thousands in parking fees they reportedly owe the Coliseum stadium authority. While the Raiders are already planning to relocate to Las Vegas, their stadium there likely won’t be ready until 2020, and they had planned to play in Oakland through 2018 at the least. However, the stadium authority may not go along.
According to a report by local CBS affiliate KCBS on an audit discussed at the Oakland-Alameda County Authority board meeting Wednesday, the Raiders are in default on their lease thanks to hundreds of thousands in unpaid revenue from parking fees. They have only been making minimum payments since 2013, and owe an estimated $25,000 more per game since then, which could add up to $800,000. The team disputes the amounts in question, but board members were not happy about this, and the chair even threatened to kick the team out ahead of the 2018 season if they don’t pay up:
“It’s a slap in the face,” said board chair Larry Reid. “It’s frustrating. We’ve got to make sure that we hold them accountable and that they repay back to the public the money that is owed.”
“I’m blindsided by it, but the last thing I want to do is get in another fight with the Raiders,” board member and county supervisor Scott Haggerty said. “I just want to get through these next two years with the Raiders, and let the fans enjoy a couple more years of football here in Oakland.”
Board members expect the team to resolve the dispute and continue playing at the Coliseum in 2017. But if they don’t pay up, Reid said he will not agree to exercise the Raiders’ option to play in Oakland for the 2018 season.
There might be quite the appeal to getting rid of the Raiders early. The executive director of the Coliseum authority has already said Oakland taxpayers are “better off if they don’t play here,” as the authority was reportedly only breaking even on games and could lose up to $2 million a year if attendance drops by 10 or 15 per cent (as many expect it to with the team set to move). The Raiders’ lease did let them stay through at least 2018, but if they’re in default on that, the authority may in fact be able to get rid of them early. That adds yet another twist in this Raiders’ saga, and raises more questions still about where they’ll spend the next few years.