Ahead of this week's Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, during which a vote is expected on whether the Oakland Raiders will be allowed to move to Las Vegas, Commissioner Roger Goodell responded to a last-ditch stadium proposal by the City of Oakland in a letter obtained by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Goodell's letter, sent on Friday evening to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, was an immediate, critical response to an 11th-hour proposal presented by the city on Friday, which included plans for a $1.3 billion mixed-use stadium on the site of the Oakland Coliseum.
In his letter, Goodell asserted that the latest proposal "confirms that key issues that we have identified as threshold considerations are simply not resolvable in the short term. In that respect, the information sent today does not present a proposal that is clear and specific, actionable in a reasonable timeframe, and free of major contingencies."
Among the league's main issues with the proposal, Goodell writes, are with the contribution of New York hedge fund Fortress Investment Group and the commitment to the Oakland Athletics, who currently share the Coliseum with the Raiders.
"At this date, there remains no clear proposal regarding the site, how it will be developed, the nature of the participation by Fortress or other parties, or what approvals are in place for development," the commissioner continued. "In addition, the long-term nature of the commitment to the A's remains a significant complication and the resolution of that issue remains unknown. Other significant uncertainties, which we have previously identified, remain unaddressed."
This thinking is in line with what owners have been saying for weeks. The league had hoped the Raiders would find a way to formulate a stadium deal in Oakland, a much bigger and more lucrative market than Las Vegas. But NFL Network's Judy Battista reported earlier this week that most owners were resigned to the idea that no viable plan from Oakland was coming anytime soon and they would reluctantly support the move.
That attitude persists. Rapoport reported that sources familiar with the process reiterate that, despite the city's proposal, nothing has changed regarding the league or the Raiders' view of Oakland's efforts.
The potential move by the Raiders is expected to dominate the meeting of owners, coaches and general managers. If 24 of the 32 clubs agree, the Raiders could play two more years, the 2017 and 2018 seasons, in Oakland before packing up.
Goodell also acknowledged certain facets of the city's plan to protect its public interest.
"A significant number of NFL clubs play in stadiums that have little or no public financial support (including the stadium being built in Los Angeles) and we have accepted that no public funds will be used for stadium construction," Goodell added. "We also accept that you do not wish to exercise (and may not be able to exercise) the contractual termination rights related to the A's."
The commissioner noted that Schaaf has provided valuable leadership and says the league has committed an additional $100 million to support an Oakland stadium project, adding that many owners have met with the Oakland group directly.
But Goodell concluded that, during this coming week's meetings, the city of Oakland's ability to host an NFL franchise in the future will be under review.
"All of these efforts, ours and yours, have not yet identified a viable solution," Goodell added. "At our upcoming meeting, the clubs will consider the Raiders' application to move to Las Vegas. A key part of that discussion will be a thorough review of our collective efforts in Oakland."