Officials for the city of Oakland and the outgoing NFL franchise will finally sit down. It’s not a last-ditch effort to keep the Raiders, however, but an attempt to collect unpaid parking fees.
What could be described as an aloof relationship between the Oakland Raiders and the city they are about to vacate has taken an interesting turn. Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority officials are seeking the payment of $920,000 in parking fees that they claim the Raiders haven’t paid.
The Raiders have made a payment of $61,000 to the authority recently, but that’s like an individual who has amassed hundreds of parking tickets over a period of years sending in payment for one of those citations. That payment was based on the team’s extremely convenient interpretation of the language governing the Raiders’ usage of parking space at The Coliseum.
It seems that government officials are quite confident their interpretation of the lease leading to the much-higher amount due is correct. Stadium authority executive director Scott McKibben told Candee that if a settlement can’t be reached, the dispute will go to legal mediation.
Other than perhaps foolishly expecting the Raiders to do the right thing and fulfill their contractual obligations, the authority doesn’t have a lot of leverage in this situation. The Raiders are playing the 2017-18 season in The Coliseum, and have a team option for the 2018-19 campaign. While the 2019-20 season is uncertain right now, that would be the latest the Raiders would be in Oakland. Their new facility in Las Vegas is expected to be ready for the 2020-21 season.
If the Raiders and the authority can’t reach a settlement and mediation fails, there is one course of action for the authority. The authority could ask a federal or state court for a restraining order to bar the team from using the facility until satisfactory payment could be made. At least right now, that’s not an option that the authority is considering according to McKibben. Defending against a lawsuit could be almost as costly as any amount the Raiders agree to pay in a settlement or are ordered to pay in mediation. That makes a lawsuit even more unlikely in this scenario.
This dispute, nearing its fifth month, may soon come to an end, but it should act as a cautionary tale for the Las Vegas stadium authority, which has recently negotiated a lease with the Raiders for the new facility. The authority needs to be very proactive on holding the Raiders accountable for their contractual obligations.