Ticket sales for the first two Oakland Raider exhibition games threw the Oakland Coliseum for a $2.8-million loss, the Oakland Tribune reported Thursday.
About 97,000 people attended the games, but only 40,000 paid for tickets, according to the Alameda Newspaper Group, which obtained the figures after filing a request under the California Open Records Act.
Officials now admit they gave away tens of thousands of tickets for the games, despite slashed prices.
"The Coliseum recognized it would have a loss," said George Vukasin, president of the board of the Coliseum, which is owned by the city and county. "But I didn't think it would be this much."
The deal with the Raiders was completed two months ago. During final-hour talks, team owner Al Davis demanded $3.8 million for playing the exhibitions, the first in Oakland and the second at Stanford Stadium.
The football team is expected to bring in at least $429 million in revenues over the next 16 years, so officials say the losses will be absorbed without putting taxpayers at risk.