OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A local business and investment group is looking to buy the city’s stake in the Coliseum site and build a new stadium to lure an NFL franchise, which would be the first in the league to be majority-owned by African Americans.
Oakland-based African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) is offering $92.5 million to buy Oakland’s portion of the Coliseum site.
The site is jointly owned by the city of Oakland and Alameda County. The Oakland A’s just purchased the other half from the county and are trying to buy the remaining half from Oakland.
The group’s chairman, Ray Bobbitt, said he’s been in talks with the A’s organization. He doesn’t see any conflict, even though both groups are going after the same piece of land.
“There’s no conflict. There’s no differences. We’re just trying to work together,” said Bobbitt.
He has also made a pitch to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell expressing AASEG’s interest in applying to own a team after the now-Las Vegas Raiders moved to Nevada when the franchise could not secure a new stadium in the Bay Area.
He said the league is talking to them and are asking for a more detailed proposal.
“They asked us specifically to put together a list of potential African American principal owners, which we have done,” said Bobbitt.
The group also includes Oakland construction developer Alan Dones, former Oakland city manager Robert Bobb, former NBA player and sports agent Bill Duffy and Loop Capital, the largest African American-owned investment firm in the U.S.
“With Oakland being such a unique place for social justice and one of the components being economic justice, equity and equality; this is something we are grateful to be an architect of,” said Bobbitt.
None of the 32 current NFL teams are owned by an African American while nearly 75 percent of the league’s players are Black.
With the departure of the Raiders and the Golden State Warriors, who played at the adjacent Oakland Arena before moving to San Francisco, the Oakland Athletics are the only team currently utilizing the Coliseum site.
The Indoor Football League’s Oakland Panthers were also scheduled to play their inaugural season at the Oakland Arena prior to the coronavirus pandemic, and will now prepare to debut during the 2022 season.
Aside from the land issues and potential conflicts with the A’s vision of the coliseum site, Chris Dobbins with Save Oakland Sports said money is the other major hurdle to get an expansion team.
“COVID is going to be a major issue. I don’t see [the NFL] expanding anything or anybody doing anything crazy with a lot of money because of that issue,” said Dobbins.
“The fluid that flows through the veins of all sports, especially the NFL, is green. And I did a quick look, the net asset value of the owners in the NFL as of today, depending on how the market did, is about $130 billion. Now, if you want to join that club, you’ve got to have plenty of B’s,” said former sports and business executive Andy Dolich with Dolich Consulting.
Bobbitt said he’s working to secure more people and money to turn his dream into reality.
Bobbitt also said he hopes that the group’s effort in the Bay Area can be expanded to other major metro areas, opening the door for multiple Black and African American owners of major sports franchises.
“We’re the AASEG Oakland but this could be AASEG Memphis, it could be AASEG Cleveland, it could be whatever scenario lends itself to urban centers that can create this economic opportunity,” he said.
Bobbitt did not give an estimated year for the team to debut in Oakland, with multiple steps still needed, potentially including accruing upwards of $1 billion in funding for the franchise.
On their current timeline, A’s officials have said they hope to move to the Howard Terminal site by the start of the 2023 MLB season.
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