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Is Ignacio De La Fuente responsible for the Raiders deal? Hardly.

Over at Stop Ignacio, one of the most persistent and inaccurate complaints against Ignacio De La Fuente is that he is apparently personally responsible for the disastrous deal that returned the Raiders to Oakland. This is simply not true. I’ve attempted to explain the whole disaster here. I know it’s long – please bear with me.

In 1990, Don Perata headed the negotiations of a deal to bring the Raiders back to Oakland. That plan, approved by the City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors, was signed by Al Davis, but then cancelled after Oakland taxpayers protested protested the potential cost to them, which guaranteed sellouts at the game, backed by taxpayer’s money. The City Council and County Board of Supervisors approved a new deal to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, which Davis rejected, and the Raiders remained in Los Angeles.

In 1995, when the Raiders were considering a deal to move to Baltimore, Oakland saw another chance to get the team back. The lead negotiator on the deal was Ed DeSilva, from the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The city’s liason to the negotiations was Ezra Rappaport, deputy city manager at the time. In 1995, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to approve the brokered deal, as did the Alameda County Board of supervisors. From the New York Times:

After 13 years in Los Angeles, the Raiders are being welcomed back to Oakland, Calif., with near unanimity. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted by 5-0 yesterday to approve the deal that would make the Raiders the first American team to return to its roots. The Oakland City Council gave its seal of approval last night, 9-0.

The deal was praised by Mayor Elihu Harris, City Manager Craig Kocian, Deputy City Manager Ezra Rappaport, City Councilman Nate Miley, City Councilwoman Sheila Jordan, City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente, City Councilman John Russo, and many others. So what went wrong? I recommend everyone interested read this article, but I’ll try to summarize the problems here.

The idea behind the deal was to pay for the stadium renovations through personal seat licenses, a new idea in football at the time. PSLs would be a prerequisite for buying season tickets, and the money would go to the city. The Coliseum took out a $225 million loan, backed by the city and county, which they would pay off through sales of the PSLs, marketed and sold through an organization called the Oakland Football Marketing Association . In July 1995, the OFMA had received more than 82,000 PSL applications. The city, the county, the Coliseum board, and Al Davis all expected season tickets to sell out based on reports from lead neotiator Ed DeSilva. Read about it here, here, and here.
As it turned out, many of the applications were either duplicates, incomplete, or did not include the required deposit. The PSL sales were a disaster. Soon, the Raiders started selling season tickets without the expensive PSLs, rendering them essentially worthless. It was a complete debacle, and the taxpayers were left footing the bill.

So what did Ignacio De La Fuente negotiate? The 2005 renegotiation of the disastrous deal that brought them here in the first place. The City Council approved the renegotiated deal 6-0, with 2 abstentions, in December. Read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The new deal eliminates the PSLs, and the Raiders resume control of ticket sales and marketing. In exchange, the city and the county receive all revenue generated from parking fees and concession sales, and will eventually own the Raiders Alameda headquarters. We’re still stuck with the subsidy to pay off the Coliseum’s renovation loan, which there was never any hope of getting out of. Furthermore, the city and the Raiders have agreed to drop the 17 separate pending lawsuits against one another, which will keep the debt from increasing due to legal expenses.

From one article on the subject, here’s what Ignacio De La Fuente and County Supervisor Gail Steele had to say about the new deal:

“This is a new direction, a new commitment that is to have a continued dialogue,” said City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who spearheaded efforts to renegotiate the deal cut 10 years ago to bring the Raiders back from Los Angeles. “Sometimes business relationships don’t work as expected. Our responsibility is to continue to work hard to make the situation better.”

“Let’s be honest, that subsidy is going to continue, but it will not increase with legal fees and other costs,” said Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele, who also was involved in talks to renegotiate the deal. “When you take legal fees out of that, the debt goes down.”

The commenters at Stop Ignacio frequently complain that Ignacio De La Fuente’s supporters on the blog are ignoring his record. But this is just one example of his record that is a large part of the reason I’m voting for him. I want someone who is going to look at a lose-lose situation facing the city and work to find a way to make it better. J. Douglas Allen-Taylor summarized this in an article from the Berkeley Daily Planet:

In the meanwhile, Mr. De La Fuente, who was a junior councilmember in the early 1990s and only a minor player in the Raider deal, at best, spent the next decade trying to clean up the mess. Whatever you think of Mr. De La Fuente’s politics or whether he was right or wrong to support the original Raiders deal or what moves he has tried to make since then to correct the Raider deal mistake, he didn’t cut and run. The public associates Mr. De La Fuente with the Raiders mess not because he was its originator, but because he was the janitor left with the broom trying to sweep up behind others who have long since washed their hands and left the building.

His refusal to run and hide from his vote in support of the Raiders deal, and his continued efforts to ameliorate the problem, are just two more reasons I support Ignacio De La Fuente for Oakland’s next Mayor.

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Posted in budget, delafuente, oakland.


3 Responses

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  1. deckin says

    V:

    Truly excellent piece! The way this piece of propaganda has been thrown around, not just at Stop Ignacio but also in other media and sites is truly an example of Hitler’s Big Lie. They say it over and over again and until someone comes out, as you did, with the actual record with names, quotes, cites, etc., it gets accepted as the truth.

    It should be required reading!

  2. oaklandnative says

    Ignacio De La Fuente did a great service to the city by being man enough to renegoiate the agreement, acquiring the Raider’s property and ending the idiotic PSL system. Nancy Nadel, loth to support anything rational now that she’s running for mayor, abstained from the agreement.

    How did Dellums’s sole city council supporter vote? Desley Brooks, true to the unrealistic aspirations of her hero, rejected the proposal because she thought the entire contact should be scrapped.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. De la Lame-o, part deux « oaklander online linked to this post on September 29, 2007

    [...] As a brand new Councilmember at the time, <a href=” http://futureoakland.wordpress.com/2006/04/22/is-ignacio-de-la-fuente-responsible-for-the-raiders-d…” rel=”nofollow”>De La Fuente had little to do with the Raiders deal</a>, [...]