OAKLAND, Calif. – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league is willing to contribute funding to help build a stadium in Oakland to keep the Raiders in town.
Goodell said it is crucial that the Raiders improve their stadium situation. They currently play in the outdated Oakland Coliseum and have said they would like a more modern facility at the same location. There have been talks between the team and city officials but nothing concrete has happened as of yet.
“It’s our stage. It’s part of where we present our game. It’s the biggest part,” Goodell said. “It’s also really important to the fan experience. Having full stadiums is critical for us. We want to have our fans in the stadium, we want to make sure they have the best facilities, we want to make sure the teams can generate enough revenue to be successful and competitive.”
The league already contributed $200 million to help fund a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara. Goodell said the league would also be able to fund a stadium for the Raiders if a deal was reached.
He also said the Raiders could share the 49ers stadium when it is scheduled to open in 2014.
“The priority is what the community and the team work out,” Goodell said. “I think it’s a great benefit that there’s a stadium across the bay that’s going to be a state-of-the-art facility. That’s terrific. So that’s an option if this community and the Raiders choose that. But that’s a decision they have to make.”
There has speculation the Raiders could move back to Los Angeles if they don’t get their stadium situation resolved in the Bay Area. Goodell said there is nothing new on moving a team to Los Angeles and it would take a three-quarters league vote for it to happen.
“It all comes down to a stadium solution,” he said. “If we can find the right kind of stadium solution, we’ll work on a team at that point.”
Goodell and Hall of Famers John Elway, John Madden, Howie Long and Ronnie Lott conducted a fan forum with about 150 Raiders season-ticket holders before the game. The majority of fans said they believed the game was better than it was 20 years ago and that the league is doing enough to promote player safety.
Goodell said it remained a challenge to get players to report possible concussions.
“It’s not that simple,” he said. “You have to have a good teammate next to him if he’s not right. We have spotters watching from upstairs who can spot when somebody has had an impact that may lead to a concussion so they can be evaluated. You want to make sure they are all evaluated properly and that the right decisions are made from a medical standpoint.”
Goodell also said the league’s competition committee would consider in the offseason replacing the kickoff. The league previously had moved the kickoff from the 30 to 35-yard line to cut down on violent collisions.
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano suggested that instead of kickoffs, teams would have the option of punting from the 30-yard line and going for a first down in a fourth-and-15 situation. Schiano witnessed one of his players at Rutgers, Eric LeGrand, get paralyzed on a kickoff in 2010.
“I thought it was an interesting idea,” Goodell said. “The committee will look at it.”
Goodell said he also did not know when former commissioner Paul Tagliabue would rule on whether to reduce suspensions in the Saints bounty case.