NFL Hall of Fame defensive back Ronnie Lott has been retired for more than a decade, but he can still make an impact play late in the game.
The mayor of Oakland last week announced an agreement with a Lott-led group of investors to keep the Raiders in the Bay Area instead of moving to Las Vegas. Mayor Libby Schaaf is taking what was described as a framework deal to elected officials in Oakland and Alameda County, according to her office.
Details are scant, but Lott had recently offered to purchase the land where the Oakland Alameda Coliseum sits, providing resources to upgrade the stadium. The Raiders are not party to the proposed deal, and team ownership has indicated it remains committed to coming to Las Vegas.
Supporters of bringing the Raiders to Las Vegas viewed Mayor Schaaf’s effort as a last-ditch attempt to prevent the team from moving to Southern Nevada, where the welcome mat has been put out. State lawmakers voted to provide $750 million in tax funding for a proposed $1.9 billion domed stadium, and highway projects near the yet-to-be-named site would get priority.
The framework deal “doesn’t involve the Raiders directly and I doubt it produces a stadium on the scale of the one [proposed] in Las Vegas, nor does it have the complementary uses,” said Robert Lang, an urban development expert at UNLV and strong supporter of the stadium.
NFL owners meet in January and it is expected they will vote on whether to allow the Raiders to head to Las Vegas.
Even if the league decides not to approve the move, plans would remain in place to build a scaled-down stadium for use by UNLV’s football team and for special events. Tax dollars and university-raised funds would go toward an open-air stadium with an estimated $500 million price tag.
“If we lose this and go to a college stadium, the events aren’t as glorious and the value isn’t as much,” Lang said, but “a college stadium is an upgrade over Sam Boyd [Stadium], which is miles out of town in the middle of the dust and is deeply antiquated.”
Robert Lang, director, Brookings Mountain West think tank at UNLV