Raiders' future -- the questions

October 8, 2011, 5:54 pm
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The unpleasant but necessary questions about the future of the Raiders in the wake of Al Davis death, with answers where they can be divined.

Who now owns the team?
Carol and Mark Davis, Als wife and son, apparently inherit his shares, with investors brought in over the past few years maintaining their shares. It is not yet known whether Carol and Mark also inherit the title and powers of managing general partner, which conferred all the voting stock power in Als hands.

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What is their intention?
It is believed that Mark wants to maintain ownership in Oakland, but that may not be possible with the current laws regarding estate planning. It may be that he, in conjunction with his mother, might have to consider selling off a larger portion, or even controlling interest, of the franchise. It is not known whether the present investors would have the ability to pick up the available options without having to find new ones.

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Will the Raiders remain in Oakland?
Dependent upon who becomes the controlling owner, but a return to Los Angeles is certainly not out of the question, and in fact may be more likely now than while Al Davis was alive. The other owners may be more predisposed to look favorably upon the Raiders as the second of two teams in Los Angeles, but the level of political infighting is very much yet to be determined.

How does this effect other California teams?
The Chargers, the most likely first tenant in Los Angeles, would want the Raiders to remain in Oakland so that they could have the market to themselves. More fundamentally, the 49ers would want the Raiders to stay if they view a shared stadium plan as their best chance to get a new home, but the idea that the process could begin and then the Raiders leave in the middle of planning or construction would surely give them pause. It might even destroy the project before it begins, leaving the 49ers to do their own financing, or remain in San Francisco.

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How does this impact power balance among other NFL owners?
In recent years, Als influence has waned in league matters, and the most recent collective bargaining agreement did more to harm his position. The Raiders are valued 31st by Forbes, and as they do not have other businesses against which to leverage the team, they are among the most cash-poor of the 32 franchises. That does not mean they are not quite profitable, but in relation to other operations they rank among the lowest in the league. In addition, most of the owners and league officials Al had the most sway with have died, retired or are in less powerful positions, making him less influential than Jerry Jones of Dallas, Robert Kraft of New England, the Maras of New York, Jeff Lurie of Philadelphia, Jim Irsay of Indianapolis, Steve Bisciotti of Baltimore, and a handful of others.