SACRAMENTO — Just as Sacramento closed the sale on $40 million in bonds to lure the Los Angeles Raiders, its bid for the team appeared to founder over a local partnership'sinsistence that it own part of the team.
That issue has been a sticking point since negotiations started eight months ago. But with every other issue virtually resolved it now threatens a deal that has come tantalizingly close in recent days.
"The issue of local ownership is important," City Manager Walter Slipe said Tuesday, "but I'd hate to see the whole thing fall apart over it."
Slipe said he'd be particularly upset since city officials have done everything they've been told was necessary, including the selling of bonds to help raise a $50-million franchise relocation fee to help land the team.
Like almost every other point in Sacramento's bid for the National Football League franchise, the ownership question has taken numerous odd twists.
First, according to the partnership led by Gregg Lukenbill and the Sacramento Sports Assn., Raiders managing general partner Al Davis agreed to sell 20% of his team for about $20 million.
But as talks progressed and other issues were resolved, Davis, who has refused all interview requests on the subject, became more and more reluctant to sell.
Eventually he agreed to allow an option to buy. The option could be exercised five years after the team starts playing in Sacramento, probably by 1996, but at today's prices. If he wanted to block exercise of the option, Davis would have to pay Lukenbill's group whatever the 20% share was worth in 1996 dollars--up to $40 million.
Davis would also get paper ownership of a new stadium and $45 million in tax depreciation and guarantees of $115 million or five years of sellouts.
But Lukenbill, who as late as Tuesday was saying privately that ownership was not necessary for him to make the deal, has told Davis in the last 10 days that an option to buy was not enough.
In fact, at a meeting in Los Angeles two weeks ago, the two strong-willed men were on the verge of a handshake agreement that would move the Raiders to Sacramento for the 1991 season.
But Lukenbill abruptly left that meeting after Davis laid out his ownership proposal.