Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raiders' Davis Says He's Not to Blame

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Raiders' Davis Says He's Not to Blame

Article excerpt

In a rare news conference, Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that selling exclusive rights to watch his team play at the Coliseum is failing - but insisted he isn't to blame.

Davis said it may be impossible to sell out the Oakland Coliseum if fans are required first to buy "personal seat licenses," the expensive righy season tickets for 10 years. But he declined to offer any solutions, saying it's up to public officials, whom he said asked him to stay out of marketing.

"The community has to sell PSLs," Davis said. "We have to sell tickets. If we have to sell PSLs in order to sell tickets, then it's going to be a problem." The public agencies need the license fees to help repay the $200 million bonds that paid for the stadium expansion and return of the team last year from Los Angeles. Davis said he warned public officials last year that they may be taking on more financial risk than they could handle by putting high prices on seat rights - but was told the licenses, the more expensive "club seats" and luxury suites would sell out. "I was greatly concerned that Oakland could not handle this economically," Davis said at a crowded news conference. "I was told there was no way we could not sell out. I was told it was a slam dunk. We'll sell them." Clad in his trademark nylon silver-and-black sweatsuit, Davis deflected criticism he profited while Oakland and Alameda County may have to use public funds to help repay the debt. He said he lost $10 million in exp ected income this year because of slow sales of club seats and luxury suites. The team collects half the revenue from club seats and all the rent from luxury suites. Davis complained he is wrongly blamed for the sputtering sales, for construction problems and for taking millions of dollars in "relocation" fees while public agencies are at risk. "They asked me to come back (to Oakland) and I did," Davis said. "I don't want to screw anyone." He added that public officials warned him to stay out of marketing. But the Raiders do have a role in selling the seat licenses. They control four seats on the 7-member board of directors of the Oakland Football Marketing Association, which is responsible for selling seat licenses, club seats and luxury suites. …

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