Has Al Davis gone soft? You might think so by reading today’s Oakland Tribune story about the fiery owner of the Oakland Raiders choosing not to appeal a court ruling that overturned his $34 million judgment against the city of Oakland and Alameda County. Team officials said Davis, a man who never saw a lawsuit he didn’t like and has rarely, if ever, backed down from a legal fight, decided not to pursue an appeal to get his $34 million judgment reinstated because of a new spirit of “cooperation” between the Raiders and public officials. However, that cooperation, while welcome, has come at a steep — and hidden — price.
Davis may have abandoned his quest to collect on the $34 million, but the Trib didn’t mention that the deal he struck last year with the city and county will cost taxpayers a lot more. That deal sparked a new era of chumminess because it killed Personal Seat Licenses. The Raiders hated these fees, because the team was convinced they hurt season ticket sales. But the PSLs would have netted $50 to $60 million this year for taxpayers.
That money would have helped the city and county retire some of the debt on the $200 million in bonds sold to renovate the Oakland Coliseum for the Raiders when they came home from Los Angeles in 1995. The PSLs were slated to expire this year and then be resold, adding much-needed income for the city and county. But now that the PSLs are history, city and county taxpayers must continue to pay $20 million in interest and debt payments on the bonds for the foreseeable future.
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