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ORLANDO, Fla. – Raiders owner Mark Davis remains committed to staying in Oakland. The effort can’t be denied.
After so many starts, stops and steps back in his quest for a new, permanent home for his football team, frustration has officially taken hold. In a Sunday interview at the NFL owner’s meetings, Davis admitted that his mind has wandered toward other markets.
That includes one a few hours south, in a town where the Raiders have already been. Yeah, that’s right. Los Angeles.
“We’re not done in Oakland. We’re trying really hard, and we’ll see how that goes,” Davis said. “But Los Angeles is something that I’ve definitely thought about and haven’t pursued. There are other places as well. Until we can find out if Oakland is real, then I’m still staying in Oakland. If we can get something done in Oakland, I will stay in Oakland.”
The sledding has been tough. Raiders stadium hopes have gone up and down again, without anything tangible to show for it. Davis brought up the Coliseum City proposal, the latest attempt to bring new facilities to East Bay teams, as the latest source of light.
“If in fact that can come to fruition, we’ll be a part of that,” Davis said. “If not, then we have to figure out what to do. What we’ve done is sign a one-year extension to our lease and we’ll play (at the Oakland Coliseum) this season. At the end of this season, we have to determine what’s going to happen.”
Davis wouldn’t say exactly what that next step would be. He emphasized over and again that his focus remains on the Bay Area, but he is clearly tired of deadlines that pass without progress.
“(Oakland mayor Jean Quan) stated publicly that she wanted to have a deal done by the end of last football season,” Davis said. “That came and went. Now she’s talking about this summer. We’ll see how that goes, but we’re trying. We’re really trying."
The need for a permanent home is clearly Davis’ top priority. He declined to discuss Raiders football and his team’s myriad free-agent moves, deflecting those questions toward general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen.
Davis lauded the commitment of his fans, but subtly acknowledged that they aren’t limited to the Bay Area.
“We have a phenomenal fan base. It’s a true Raider nation,” Davis said. “That’s the thing about us. We’re global with our fans. We just have to have a place that they’re proud of to go and play. That’s all I’m looking for.”
Raider Nation has a particularly strong following in Southern California and, as an open territory, it remains an option if all else fails in the Bay Area.
“I know that we would be well embraced down there,” Davis said. “There’s no question about that.”