In 2020, when the Raiders football team moved to Las Vegas, they were able to walk away from a $189 million debt to Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers.
In exchange, the city and county received the team’s training facility near the Oakland Airport, assessed at $24.6 million and worth, by one account, perhaps twice that amount.
The lopsided swap raises questions about the state and federal tax treatment of the forgiven debt and the negligence of public officials who signed off on a deal that was a gross and inexcusable expenditure of public funds — questions for which local, state and federal investigations are needed.
The complex details and history of the agreements between the Raiders and the Oakland Coliseum Authority were revealed in reporter Jason Cole’s investigation published by this news organization earlier this month.
They highlight yet another example of politicians using public money to kowtow to wealthy team owners rather than devoting the funds to needed government services. Sports teams do not pay their way. They may enhance civic pride, but public subsidies are not financially justified. Not for the Raiders then — and not for the Oakland A’s now.