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Oakland struggles to afford an NFL team

Chiefs Raiders Football

Oakland Raiders Rocky Angel poses for photographs in the Coliseum parking lot before an NFL football game between the Oakland Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


Lost in the emerging debate regarding whether the Raiders will get a new stadium in Oakland is whether Oakland can afford to host and help build it.

Based on a lengthy new article from Darrell Preston and Aaron Kurlikoff of, the answer may be no.

Amid lots of financial discourse that we don’t understand is some stuff that we do. A $32 million budget deficit in 2011 was closed by laying off 200 police officers, leaving in place the annual $17.3 million contribution to the operation of the Coliseum, where the Raiders and A’s play.

Beyond that story-opening tidbit, we weren’t able to process much more of the monetary explanation. But I think I got the point: NFL football in Oakland doesn’t seem to be working very well.

The easiest solution would be to share the San Francisco 49ers’ forthcoming stadium in Santa Clara, which actually is roughly equidistant from the two cities, at the bottom of the Bay. But the Raiders (and more importantly their paying customers) don’t seem to be interested in being the silver-and-black-headed stepchildren in the Niners’ new home.

The hardest solution would be to find a way to build a new stadium in Oakland with public contributions.

Residing between the two local options is a return to L.A., something we’ve heard in the past the NFL won’t be inclined to allow unless and until Mark Davis sells controlling interest in the team.

The broader purpose of this protracted and not-very-profitable dance could be to let the Raiders and their fans come to the conclusion that the only way to make this work would be to share a stadium in Santa Clara. That may be the only way to keep “Oakland” in the NFL equation.