LOS ANGELES -- The playbook in Oakland contains just one word: persistence.
Despite numerous other failed attempts to return the Los Angeles Raiders to their original home, Oakland officials are once again talking about a potentially controversial bond issue designed to bring back the Silver and Black.
But this time around, they're taking a different approach.
Instead of proposing taxpayer-backed bonds, which met with stiff opposition four years ago, the Oakland Coliseum's board of directors is considering revenue bonds that would be paid off through money generated by Raider football games.
The bond proceeds would be used to lower the playing field and to build luxury boxes and 11,000 new parking spaces, among other improvements to the aging coliseum.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the Raiders would do well here," said Edward Campbell, president of the Alameda County board of supervisors. "We have a large fan base in this area."
But Campbell is a veteran of past Raider deals -- each one touted as the solution to Oakland's economic ills -- so he is not getting his hopes up.
"I just feel that we've been used as leverage in the past," said Campbell, referring to the Raider organization's long history of playing one city off another to obtain the most lucrative contract.
Details of the offer being talked about now are sketchy and have not yet left the desk of Oakland Coliseum board member Ed de Silva.
De Silva and others involved are generally keeping tight-lipped about the potential deal, which would need the approval of the coliseum board, the city, and the county.
A receptionist at de Silva's Oakland office said, "He has a policy of not returning phone calls from reporters."
But county supervisor Don Perata, a de Silva ally, recently told the San Jose Mercury News that the deal is expected to come before the coliseum board within a few weeks.
"Ours is a straight revenue proposition," Perata told the newspaper. "What we want out of the deal is to make sure no money comes out of our pocket. What [the Raiders] get is a fan base, and luxury boxes, and 11,000 flat parking spaces adjacent to the facility .... Compared to L.A., which has none of the above, this is significantly better."
Raider owner A1 Davis has long complained of insufficient parking and a lack of luxury boxes at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the team now plays its home games. Raider spokesman Al LoCasale said he had not heard of the bond deal being discussed in Oakland.
"But that does not mean it has not been mentioned to other members of the Raider organization, or to A1 Davis," LoCasale said. "I can't verify it or comment on it one way or the other."
For now, LoCasale said, the team has no plans to leave Los Angeles, where the Raiders are fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Their record before yesterday's game with the New Orleans Saints was 5 to 5.
Officials in Los Angeles have also been working hard to keep the Raiders there.
Following the Jan. 17 earthquake, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission used $60 million in federal and state funds to repair and upgrade the damaged stadium, and to lay the groundwork for new luxury boxes.
These and other factors leave some observers wary of Oakland's latest effort to regain the Raiders after 13 years in Los Angeles.
Frank Russo, an Oakland attorney who led a citizen effort that killed the last bond deal, said he would reserve final judgment until the details are revealed. But he is not optimistic.
"The devil is in the details," said Russo, a former legal counsel to state Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. "I remain somewhat skeptical about the taxpayers' role in funding sports."
In 1990, Oakland officials were prepared to undertake a $140 million bond issue to finance stadium renovations, cover an upfront payment of $32 million to the Raiders, and retire the final $11.5 million in debt remaining from a 1964 bond sale that paid for the original construction of the stadium.
The contract also guaranteed future ticket-sale revenues -- backed by taxpayer dollars -- regardless Of how many seats were actually sold.
That deal was accepted by the Raiders, but it was later rescinded in the face of massive public opposition.
"There is a sentimentality here toward the Raiders, a sense of legend," said Russo. "But all I can say is, we have to guard against making another emotionally based decision on this."