The “Principles” of Astroturfing

That group Stand for San Jose is at it again, choosing New Year’s Eve to write a letter to the City. In the letter, the group is demanding that the A’s guarantee revenues as defined in the September Economic Impact report. Nevermind that the A’s did not write nor commission the report; it was handled by the City. Have the San Jose Giants ever promised any kind of economic benefit for San Jose? I’m afraid not, yet they’re happy to go to the public trough and then have the temerity to attack the City after they’ve secured a ballpark deal of their own.

Regardless of what you or I think of the group’s machinations, the City has already set up guidelines for negotiating with the A’s if/when they get clearance to move to San Jose. While these are just the beginning and the devil will truly be in the details, the principles approved by the Mayor/Council (PDF) are a good start towards making sure everything’s on the up-and-up.

1. The stadium development must generate a significant economic benefit to San Jose and have a positive impact on the City of San Jose’s General Fund.
2. The Major League Baseball team, at no cost to the City of San Jose, will be responsible for financing and building the stadium structure and
improvements on the approximate 14-acre designated stadium site.
3. The Major League Baseball team will be responsible for financing all
stadium operating costs related to its activities within the stadium site and surrounding area.
4. The name of the Major League Baseball team must include San Jose.
5. If the City or Redevelopment Agency recommend a contribution in the form of land or a financial contribution for any other ballpark specific items, a vote by the citizens of San Jose will be required on the stadium project.
  1. The stadium development must generate a significant economic benefit to San Jose and have a positive impact on the City of San Jose’s General Fund.
  2. The Major League Baseball team, at no cost to the City of San Jose, will be responsible for financing and building the stadium structure and improvements on the approximate 14-acre designated stadium site.
  3. The Major League Baseball team will be responsible for financing all stadium operating costs related to its activities within the stadium site and surrounding area.
  4. The name of the Major League Baseball team must include San Jose.
  5. If the City or Redevelopment Agency recommend a contribution in the form of land or a financial contribution for any other ballpark specific items, a vote by the citizens of San Jose will be required on the stadium project.

Not known to mince words, Mayor Chuck Reed had a select few for Stand for San Jose:

“I think this front organization for the San Francisco Giants should go to San Francisco and talk to their puppet masters and tell them to get out of the way so we can negotiate some guarantees,” Reed said.

While City Attorney Rick Doyle called it “unrealistic” for any team to agree to such a money-back guarantee, he said reducing the city’s financial risk is “very do-able.” Doyle pointed to the 1990 deal between the city and the San Jose Sharks over funding the arena, now called HP Pavilion.

Furthermore, Roger Noll characterizes a revenue guarantee (beyond a direct lease payment) as “improbable.” And to end the article on an unintentionally humorous note, reporter Tracy Seipel notes that the letter asks for an “economic benefits report card,” similar to audits done by Phoenix and Washington, DC. Except that those two cities don’t do such report cards. The supposed “responsible government” in the District put together (thanks Robert Bobb) one of the most egregiously one-sided, publicly-financed ballpark deals in the last 20 years.

Gallagher/Dolich on KNBR/CSNCA

When Ted Robinson guest hosts for Gary Radnich, he will occasionally have one segment that’s very business related. Today (right now!), he has Giants Enterprises President Pat Gallagher and 49ers COO (and former A’s VP and onetime prospective owner) Andy Dolich in the KNBR studio to talk business. If/when the podcast is available, I’ll post it. The two longtime friends saw themselves as friendly rivals when Dolich was with the A’s. In the interview so far, they’ve said things that we’ve discussed here but coming from them have much more gravitas:

  • Both teams can be here as long as someone is willing to take the risk (which the Giants have already done) [Gallagher]
  • The A’s will still be here, even if they’re looking around the Bay Area [Dolich]
  • Most fans don’t constantly check stats, or know the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3. They just want to have a good time. [Dolich]

Now they’re talking advertising. Dolich thought the Crazy Crab and Croix de Candlestick were genius.

Future articles for 2010 + NY Times article

The Gray Lady has an article on the Oakland-SF-SJ-A’s saga, which means that the local war has gone national. It’s rather unfortunate that the picture they chose for the piece is a twilight shot up from ground level, with a puddle in the foreground as Mount Davis looms with its lightly adorned concrete in back. The profile shot of Lew Wolff even has a somewhat sinister quality to it.

USA Today’s baseball writer Bob Nightengale also covers the stadium issue in his A’s organizational report.

In 2010, we’ll start a series of ballpark design articles. Some of the content will reference locations and cities. Other articles will focus on the stuff inside the stadium. Among the subject matter we will be discussing:

  • Park factors
  • Weather and climate
  • Field dimensions, including “quirks”
  • Foul territory
  • Grandstand shape and design
  • Field orientation
  • Amenities
  • Pricing trends

We’ll still cover the news as it comes and provide commentary. The new feature articles will come out on a more predictable schedule, perhaps on a biweekly or weekly basis. For instance, I’ll be adding weather information to the soon-to-be-renamed Attendance Watch box on the right. Why? Stay tuned. Also, if you have any suggestions for subjects we could cover, drop a comment. 2010 is bound to shape up as a most interesting year. We want to do our part.

Cisco CEO John Chambers chimes in

I hope everyone’s having a good holiday break. It’s good to get away from the everyday hustle and bustle, which for me includes monitoring and posting on this here blog.

But enough about me. Thanks to GoA’s, who caught the SJ/SV Business Journal’s Q&A with Cisco CEO John Chambers. Chambers was named Executive of the Year by the publication in the most recent issue (subscription required). While most of the interview was geared towards the tech industry and his company’s health, Moryt Milo managed to get a ballpark-related question in the mix.

MM: Let’s change gears. I would like to ask whether we have a chance of seeing a Cisco Stadium with a Major League Baseball team in San Jose.

JC: We want the South Bay to have the A’s. We think it’s important for creating an environment for our children. Not only is it about education, because clearly it is, but it’s about job creation and an environment that will attract companies and individuals to this area. Having sports teams in the South Bay is an element of that, and we very much want to see the A’s here. So we are trying very hard. I think it’s pretty good odds that it will happen.

So far this is the first comment I’ve seen that showed Cisco’s interest in having the A’s local to them in the South Bay. While Oakland hasn’t been shut out – and there’s no reason to shut out Oakland until everything shakes out – Chambers’ affirmation of bringing the A’s into the South Bay fold is revealing. Remember that Cisco didn’t get involved until Keith and Lew Wolff started talking with Cisco about developing the networking giant’s dormant Fremont parcels. When the Fremont plan imploded, Cisco remained committed to the sponsoring the A’s efforts to remain in the Bay Area.

However, there is some question as to how Cisco and Chambers defines “Bay Area.” While Cisco should be expected to retain naming rights whether a ballpark is in the South Bay or East Bay, there is no doubt that Cisco would prefer that its premier technology showcase be conveniently located to its headquarters, and Downtown San Jose is about as convenient as you can get (Santa Clara is close as well). I wonder if Cisco’s eventual naming rights deal may be more lucrative if it’s tied to a San Jose or Fremont ballpark.

That brings me to a tangent. In light of all the threats of lawsuits and bad intent coming from the A’s, there’s one major piece the barristers are missing: Fremont. Even if they were to argue that the A’s were obligated to try for a ballpark in the East Bay, that doesn’t preclude the team from putting most of their resources behind Fremont. You can question the wisdom of the plan, but the fact remains that Wolff/Fisher put tremendous amounts of money and time into the original Cisco Field concept. Nowhere in the Coliseum lease or in any other covenants are the A’s required to try X number of times or put Y effort into Oakland. There’s only a $250,000 fee if the A’s leave Alameda County, which shows that the Coliseum Authority considered the possibility of that happening. Otherwise, why have it in there?

Going back to Chambers’ argument – it sounds like what most boosters of a particular city or municipality would say when trying to bring in a team. The difference between Chambers and other boosters is that he’s backing his statement with nine figures and a company that’s in the Dow. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Greetings from the Ghost of Christmas Present… Part 2

Ahhhh… It’s Christmas Eve. I have been tracking Santa on NORAD’s Santa Tracker since about 0430 this morning. So before I talk about my HIGHLY ANTICIPATED marketing initiatives (numbers 4, 5 and 6) I wanted to make a  Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and everything else wish.

I wish that there will be peace in our time. I don’t mean big peace like in the Middle East or anything, just that for the next few days we can all get along in the comments. No “carpetbagging,” no “Oakland sucking,” etc. The spirit of this post is one that is meant to inspire conversation, but not emotional rants. So thanks for making my wish come true in advance!

We now resume our meanderings on the Business of Baseball and such. Marketing initiatives:

Initiative 4: Live Band In-between Innings- I am not sure if this is allowed in MLB. I don’t care, it should be. And it opens up some potential new sponsorship opportunities. Imagine having a band led by Carlos Santana playing the MGD theme song.. “I get my fresh tapped taste at the barbecue, sippin’ on my MGD…”

Or just imagine a local cover band busting out some Head Like a Hole, instrumental version in between innings and various jingles in other innings. Hell, I’d even like to see them bust out the beginning of “My Own Summer” as Micheal Taylor strides to the plate. Maybe they could bust out the theme from Jaws as Andrew Bailey heads to the hill… I am pretty sure those would be rules violations of some kind… But the idea has merit. A band, On Thursday-Saturday night games, with a  preapproved set list in between innings. Perched up above Left Field in a roped off  “stage” right below the flag poles. Talk about an event…

Initiative 5: Embrace Tailgating- From the files of “Turn a Weakness into a Strength” comes the full on embracing of a tailgating culture. Pair up with Costco and have a “Costco Tailgation Station”  set up on either side of the Coliseum. In the middle of the parking lot. Take that sea of asphalt and make some money. Turn a block of spots into a pregame celebration. Sell beer, sell charcoal, sell disposable barbecues, sell lighters, bottle openers, left over Keiichi Yabu T Shirts as kindling… make some money off this stuff, but more than anything get people excited about having fun in the middle of a parking lot!

Initiative 6: Broadcasting Changes- My deep, deep appreciation of Bill King is probably the biggest reason I love the A’s. Well, he and Lon Simmons and now Ken Korach. As a young boy, I had no father (he died when I was 5). I spent a great deal of time in the backyard at my grandparent’s house in San Lorenzo with my brother, a wiffleball bat, a wiffleball and Lon and Bill.  They introduced me to Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Dave Henderson, etc. We marveled at their abilities together, me, Bill, Lon and the Weevil (my brother’s nickname). I still remember McGwire’s original onslaught as a detail engrossed in the dulcet tones of Lon Simmons. Mac was a character in the story, dare I say boyhood fairytale, that Lon and Bill told as it unfolded.

With the A’s now having so many games on TV, Ray Fosse isn’t on the radio much. Seize this opportunity to introduce a new storyteller! Replace him already… Dave Henderson would be awesome. Maybe some old coach like Rene Lachemann is interested in trying out some radio.  Either way, pay homage to the history of the team by bringing back another member of the team to talk to us all 162 times plus Spring Training and Playoffs.

On the TV side… I got to say, I mute the stuff most of the time and just watch. Nothing against Ray and G.K., I just don’t really like baseball on TV. The announcing on TV is less storytelling and more “Did you see that?”  It doesn’t have the appeal of listening to a fairytale as it unfolds. But… How cool would it be if the A’s had a guest color guy on home weeknight games? What if the guest color guy was Terry Steinbach a few times? What if it was Rickey Henderson a few times? Maybe Dave Stewart here and there. Not just an inning… Not just on World Champion Reunion night… but they actually are scheduled to be on the game in advance and everyone knows. I bet on Rickey’s nights the A’s ratings would eclipse Martha Stewart. Okay, well maybe not but I’d expect a boost. Wouldn’t you tune in to hear the craziness that came out of Rickey’s mouth?

So there you have it. My humble list of 6 things to make the A’s a bit more of an interesting thing to behold. I leave you with this:

Happy Hendersonmas

And now a message from the Ghost of Christmas Present…

So, with so much of our discussion centering on the potential developments in the future, I thought it might be fun to take up another topic. That topic is: The Here and Now!

Or better stated… If I was the A’s VP of Marketing (neither I, nor the frog in my pocket work for the A’s… unfortunately), what would I do to make today better? Carpe Diem! How do I get people out to the stadium when the stadium is the one thing everyone agrees holds the team back?

So with apologies to Jim Leahey, here is my attempt at doing his job!

First, we have to think about what the mission of the marketing team is. What objectives are we attempting to accomplish with our plan?

  1. Create repeat visitors/Season Ticket Holders
  2. Bring back fans from the glory years
  3. Increase sales of team related apparel
  4. Increase viewership/ radio listeners

So how do we do this? Or, what would be a good effort in this regard while the stadium question hangs in the balance?

There are three main pillars to our short term strategic approach. Appeal to nostalgia, create an event mentality at the yard and spruce up the broadcasts. These are not independent of one another, they interrelate.  So here are the specific initiatives I would drive across the organization.

A slight detour: Many of these ideas have come from conversations with fellow fans, posts on AN, posts here and from other team’s marketing activities. Thanks to everyone who has shared one of these ideas or something similar.

We have 6 initiatives, here are the first 3

Initiative 1: Bill King Hall of Fame Drive. It was depressing to go to Cooperstown and see the Ford C. Frick Award Winners. Bill, oh Bill where are you? They have sullied your memory by excluding you… For so many people, the broadcasters of a team are the face, er voice, of the franchise. I have spent many a long summertime afternoon conversing with Bill King. Many more hours than any other member of the A’s Organization. I understand it may be a faux pas amongst MLB teams to campaign for the Ford C. Frick. But as Dante said… “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, retain their neuitrality.” Hyperbole? Maybe, but still.

There should be “Vote Bill for Ford C. Frick” signs everywhere in the coliseum. A kiosk or 5 at the Coliseum to listen to his most outstanding calls. His picture on the outfield wall. Pull out all the stops… give us something to rally around while we wait for Crush Carter and Titanic Taylor to join Bubonic Brett Anderson in the big leagues .

Initiative 2: Immortal Athletics. My visit to Yankee Stadium this past summer got me to thinking. If they can play videos of the back up left fielder from 1952 on the Diamondvision before the game for 3 hours, shouldn’t the A’s at least do something similar for their former stars? And then, across the Bay they have plaques on the outside of the stadium… Forever Giants. They have one for Johnny Lee LeMaster for crying out loud?!?!?!?!? Heck, Walt Weiss was good at least!

And then… there was Rickey night. Nobody else will ever draw a crowd like that dude. I mean, I was a tall, scrawny white kid with slightly above average speed, no power and an inability to track fly balls. But, in High School,  I played Left Field,  took pitches until I got a strike and tried to steal bases because I wanted to be Rickey. Not too many players affect us like that, you know? But if Rickey draws gobs and gobs of people… our other heroes of the bygone days, could draw gobs. We don’t need to retire numbers, well except for Dave Stewart. But we could use a Bob Welch plaque out near the home plate entrance. Any player with 5 years in an A’s uniform or who played a significant role in a playoff season or won a major award in an A’s uniform should be eligible.  And a Carney, Walt, Dave Parker, Dave Henderson, Sal Bando, Dwayne Murphy, etc. Imagine 6 midweek nights next season, with a cool pennant giveaway and a highlight reel in the 5th inning feature the latest Immortal Athletic.  Walt Weiss… come on down!

Initiative 3: Yellow Jersey. I miss yellow. I used to like those yellow numbers the boys wore back in 1986. It’d be cool to pay homage to the past similar to what the Padres are planning for Thursday day games. I mean, instead of wearing Taco Bell themed uni’s, the A’s could find a way to pay homage to their entire Bay Area uniform history by going sleeveless, yellow and with the elephant on a ball logo on front every Sunday home game. Here is sort of a mockup of what I was thinking:

yellowalternate

Heck, I’d be okay if it was the same as 1986’s pull over with “Oaktown” written on it in today’s font. Either way the jersey serves multiple purposes. First, increase sales of  team apparel, make Sunday afternoons feel like an event unto themselves, appeal to our sense of nostalgia…

We have 3 more things to put out there for all to criticize, they are more stadium/broadcast related. Until then, Happy Holidays!

Fun with assumptions

A new editorial in the Contra Costa Times takes a wait-and-see approach to Oakland’s efforts to retain the A’s.

Over at the Merc, Todd W. Smith, the lawyer representing the “citizens” group Stand for San Jose, outlined their rationale for rewriting the San Jose ballpark EIR. So far the response from the city has been, “We’re already doing that.” While the idea that the ballpark will be a drain on city services sounds downright hypocritical coming from a team who accepted public funds in much the same vein recently, there is plenty of room for revision in the EIR. Smith wouldn’t let it end there, including in his submission an argument coming completely out of left field.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at his major bullet points.

Updating the potential traffic impacts on Interstate 880 from A’s fans driving down from Alameda and Contra Costa counties

Since the original EIR did not specify a specific baseball team, traffic patterns were drawn from an area equidistant from the ballpark site. It did not factor in existing A’s fans coming in the the East Bay. Now that the A’s are the target, the focused study will indeed include some percentage of fans from the East Bay. I’m curious about the percentage of fans they are forecasting, and where they might get the numbers from.

Analyzing if the original environmental impact report certified in 2007, before current talks with the A’s began, considered whether a stadium in the Diridon/Arena area was consistent with San Jose’s land use policies

The Diridon/Arena Plan was written in 2003, well before the current ballpark effort started. It makes no mention of a ballpark, and only discusses high speed rail in the most fleeting of ways. During the original ballpark EIR process, the Diridon/Arena Plan was referenced frequently, with great care to ensure that the ballpark fell without design guidelines and plan objectives. This included compatibility with redone traffic, bike, and pedestrian circulation, newly planned parks and open spaces, and development. The obvious difference is that a ballpark would supplant either medium-density residential or tower office space on the Diridon South parcels. There are more than enough precedents to say that the uses are entirely compatible. During the study session, at least one commenter asked if the ballpark would be better suited for a less dense San Jose parcel such as the 237/Zanker site or the County Fairgrounds. To use either those sites instead of Diridon would be a terrible example of land use, since they would only invite more sprawl, car trips, and discourage public transit use.

Studying the impacts of residential, commercial and mixed-use projects proposed near the stadium site.

While the residential neighborhoods nearby have been studied, it’s difficult to say how the six blocks between the ballpark and the arena will be impacted. As part of infrastructure building, those six blocks will be mostly wiped clean with the possibility of one block becoming a parking garage for the ballpark. The area could be dug up for years as VTA waits for the cut-and-cover construction for the BART tunnel to commence. Initially, most of that area will end up as surface parking to satisfy requirements for both venues.

Now for the bit of crazy:

Finally, Smith said the revised report must analyze the potential for urban decay around the Oakland Coliseum that could result from the A’s relocation.

… In his letter, Smith says the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s now play, is a centerpiece in the city’s Coliseum Redevelopment Area Plan. Since the A’s use the Coliseum more than any other tenant, their exit would mean the facility could sit empty and unused on at least 81 additional dates.

Ah, so now the A’s will be responsible for contributing to the failure of the Coliseum Redevelopment Area Plan! Look, we’re talking about a vast amount of East Oakland, stretching from the Central Estuary and Fruitvale to the San Leandro border. Much of the area immediately around the Coliseum complex is zoned light or heavy industrial with small pockets of transit-oriented development near Coliseum BART. The plan doesn’t allow for mixed use along Hegenberger. Many plots of land would require massive cleanup prior to proper redevelopment. An October report on area blight shows how consequential the A’s are to the current economic situation there:

  • Employment in the Coliseum Redevelopment Area was estimated at 51,300 jobs in 2005 (p. 9). That makes the A’s responsible for less than 1% of the jobs in the area.
  • Deteriorated and dilapidated property is prevalent throughout the area, with the exception of the Airport subarea. More than 15 percent of surveyed parcels were categorized as deteriorated or dilapidated (16 percent – 26 percent, the latter high percentage in Central East Oakland) in all subareas except the Airport subarea (p. 32). In 2006, Lew Wolff proposed the Coliseum North plan that would’ve transformed up to 200 acres of the area into new mixed development. Area landowners were unwilling to sell and Wolff wasn’t interested in eminent domain, so the plan died on the vine. Even if that development had taken flight, there’s no way that one of the most economically depressed regions of the Bay Area would’ve suddenly been cured of its ills. Unfortunately, the problems in East Oakland go well beyond the impact of a cash infusion – one which would’ve received backlash due to likely gentrification.

Ultimately there’s only so much the A’s can do for a community. A typical MLB franchise pulls in a little more that $100 million in local revenue annually, which is about as much as a medium-sized business. While a pro sports franchise gets disproportionate amounts of media coverage, that coverage doesn’t directly translate into economic benefit for anyone other than those associated with the team, which is why I tend to look at any economic impact report with a somewhat jaundiced eye. What’s ironic is that Smith didn’t mention that none of the three sites being proposed by Oakland for a ballpark are in the Coliseum area. Any of those sites would provide much the same blight-adding effects to the Coliseum Redevelopment Area.

Purdy gets upset while York gets real

It was about the right time to read some righteous indignation from the Merc’s Mark Purdy, and in today’s edition he serves it up. He goes on the attack against the Astroturf citizens group and SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The biggest salvos are saved for the parent club, what Purdy calls the “Fraidy-Giants.”

The angle I had thought about before was money. Purdy points out that Larry Baer and the husband of Giants VP of Communications, Staci Slaughter, both contributed money to Herrera’s campaign. For that they got a nice piece of sabre-rattling. From that the San Jose boosters, who have been quietly raising money up to this point, will only be more motivated to raise even more money for the ballpark efforts. It won’t take much appearance of meddling from the city up north to get it started, so congratulations, Dennis Herrera and the Giants.

As for the little Giants, Purdy tries to dispel the oft-held belief that the team would be forced to move.

And here’s the worst part: The “coalition” is also allowing the false belief to spread that the San Jose Giants would be forced to leave town if the A’s move here. Not true. Under baseball rules, if the A’s move to the South Bay, owner Lew Wolff and Major League Baseball would have the option of asking the San Jose Giants to stay or go. However, Wolff stated a year ago that he had no intention of forcing the minor league team to leave town, saying it would be the decision of Weyermann and his owners. Wolff has frequently reiterated this stance.

What Purdy doesn’t mention is that the team will get some kind of compensation whether they move or not, and the compensation will be greater if they have to move. It’s not a matter of the SJ Giants being forced to leave town, it’s whether or not they have more lucrative options in the future. I have written in the past that the Giants would be forced out, but perhaps T-rights could be redrawn in a way that keeps the SJ Giants at Muni. I just don’t see it as realistic. Right now, grassroots groups are forming to craft proposals to lure the SJ Giants to another part of the Bay Area.

Update: The Merc’s Internal Affairs column describes a brief encounter between Larry Baer and Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone, a longtime proponent of bringing MLB to the South Bay.

Stone said he told him the team’s fate was up to Selig, to which Baer replied, “The commissioner will never rescind those rights.”

“I said, ‘Oh, really?’ ” recalled Stone, who asked Baer why Selig would appoint a committee to study all the options for the A’s if he wasn’t prepared to let the team move to San Jose.

Baer countered that the panel was appointed solely to study options for the A’s in the East Bay, outside of the Giants’ territorial rights. “And I said, ‘That’s funny, because just last week the panel and consultants were meeting with the mayor of San Jose and staff from the redevelopment agency and looking at the potential site in San Jose,’ ” Stone recalled. He added that Baer seemed surprised by the news and walked away.

Over in Santa Clara, Jed York has made the 49ers officially the “bigger man,” by publicly admitting that Oakland would be a good relocation option if the Santa Clara stadium plan fails. When it comes down to a new stadium it gets complex. Sure, the infrastructure is there, but the ideal site within the complex is the existing Coliseum, which might mean that the old girl would have to be demolished to build anew. Frankly, if the two teams don’t explore a rebuilt Coliseum option, they’re both foolish. The public contribution is already there, and it would be much easier to get justification for additional redevelopment funds if they were for the purpose of having both teams in house. Combined, I think it could pass muster as the NFL’s required public contribution, which at this point is the biggest hurdle for getting anything done – regardless of city.

Oakland Coliseum lease agreement

SEVENTH AMENDMENT
TO
OAKLAND -ALAMEDA COUNTY COLISEUM
OAKLAND ATHLETICS
AMENDED AND RESTATED STADIUM LICENSE AGREEMENT
This Seventh Amendment (the “Seventh Amendment”) to the Oakland-
Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics—Amended and Restated Stadium
License Agreement (as more particularly described in the Recitals below) is entered into
as of the day of 2006 between Oakland-Alameda County
Coliseum Authority, a joint exercise of powers authority established by the City of
Oakland, a municipal corporation and a charter city duly organized and existing under the
laws and the constitution of the State of California, and the County of Alameda, a
political subdivision of the State of California (“Licensor”), and Athletics Investment
Group LLC, a California limited liability company (“Licensee”).
Recitals
A. On October 31, 1995, Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, Inc., a California
non-profit corporation (the “Former Licensor”) and The Oakland Athletics
Baseball Company, a California limited partnership (“OABC”), entered into
the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics—Amended and
Restated Stadium License Agreement (“License Agreement”).
B. On October 31, 1995, Licensee and Athletics Stadium Operations Company
LLC, a California limited liability company (“ASOC”), acquired all of the
partnership interests in OABC. Thereafter OABC assigned to ASOC all of
OABC’s right, title and interest in and to the License Agreement.
C. On June 26, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered
into a First Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—
Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.
D. On July 30, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered
into a Second Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—
Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.
E. On October 9, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered
into a Third Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—
Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.
F. On December 24, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC
entered into a Fourth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County
Coliseum—Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License
Agreement.
G. On September , 2002, Licensor, Former Licensor and Licensee entered into a
Fifth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland
Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.
H. On March 23, 2006, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered
into a Sixth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—
Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.
I. On July 31, 2006, all rights of Former Licensor to license the Stadium
terminated pursuant to the terms of the Operating Agreement, dated as of July
31, 1996, between the Licensee and the Former Licensee.
J. Licensor and Licensee desire to extend the term of, and otherwise further
amend, the License Agreement as provided below.
K. The parties recognize that Section 31 of the License Agreement requires the
approval of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball of any such
amendment.
L. The parties recognize that the Licensor is required to obtain the approval of
the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda prior to entering to any such
amendment.
M. As used herein, the term “License Agreement” shall mean the original License
Agreement and all amendments to it as recited above; “Licensee” shall refer to
Athletics Investment Group LLC; Licensor shall refer to the Oakland
Alameda County Coliseum Authority; and capitalized terms used but not
defined herein shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the License
Agreement.
Agreement
Now, Therefore, Licensor and Licensee hereby amend the License Agreement as
follows:
1. Term of License Agreement.
Section 7.1 of the License Agreement is hereby amended to read, and is replaced in
its entirety, as follows:
“This License Agreement shall be for a term commencing November 1,
1995 and ending on December 31, 2010 (the “Fixed Term”); provided, however,
Licensee shall have the right to elect, as such right may be exercised in its
absolute sole discretion, to continue the License Agreement on a “year-by-year”
basis after the end of the Fixed Term through the end of the 2013 Baseball Season
and to December 31st of such applicable year (the “Option Period”) on the terms
and conditions applicable under this License Agreement. The Fixed Term and the
Option Period are sometimes referred to in the License Agreement as the “Term.”
If Licensee elects for any reasons, as determined in its absolute sole discretion, to
continue the License Agreement on a “year-by-year” basis after the end of the
Fixed Term, them Licensee shall give Licensor written notice of its election to
continue the License Agreement on or before July 15 preceding each year during
which the License Agreement shall be continued,”
Section 7.2 of the License Agreement is hereby amended to read, and is replaced in
its entirety, as follows:
“Provided Licensee is not in material default under the terms of this
License Agreement and notwithstanding Section 7.1 above, Licensee, may at any
time terminate the License Agreement, including this Seventh Amendment, as
follows:
“(a) If Licensee evidences an intent to use, and thereafter does secure
and/or otherwise contracts for the use of, a baseball facility to play its Home
Games located within Alameda County, (i) upon providing to Licensor written
notice One Hundred Twenty (120) days prior to the date of such termination and
(ii) without the payment of any amounts otherwise due or payable or of any
penalty or other consideration to, and without recourse by, Licensor and/or
Authority or any other party; or
“(b) Notwithstanding and except as provided in Section 7.1 above, and as
determined in its absolute sole discretion, upon (i) providing to Licensor written
notice One Hundred Twenty (120) days prior to the date of such termination and
(ii) the payment of all amounts due and all amounts that would become due
through the end of the Fixed Term as provided in Section 8.1(a) of the License
Agreement, as amended by this Seventh Amendment, plus an additional Two
Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000); provided, however, with respect to
such termination, in no case shall Licensee be obligated to pay any “Paid
Attendance” amount provided in Section 8.1(c) below.”
2. License Fees.
Section 8.1 of the License Agreement is hereby amended in its entirety as follows:
“License Fees. As consideration for all of the use of areas licensed as
described in Section 3, and Licensor’s other covenants and promises under this
License Agreement, Licensee shall pay “License Fees” to Licensor as follows:
“(a) During the portion of the Fixed Term beginning January 1, 2003,
Licensee shall pay the sums of (i) Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000) not
later than each June 30 of and for the years 2003 through 2005; (ii) Five Hundred
Fifty Thousand Dollars ($550,000) not later than June 30 of and for the year
2006; (iii) Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($600,000) not later than June 30 of
and for the year 2007; and (iv) Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000)
of and for the years 2008 through 2010;
“(b) Not later than June 30 of each year for which Licensee has given
notice of continuation of the License Agreement during the Option Period
pursuant to Section 7.1 above, Licensee shall pay the sums of (i) One Million
Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,200,000) for the year 2011; (ii) One Million
Dollars ($1,000,000) for the year 2012; and (iii) Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars
($800,000) for the year 2013;
“(c) Not later than December 15 of each respective year during the
portion of the Fixed Term beginning January 1, 2003 and ending December 31,
2006, Licensee shall pay the sum equal to Fifty Cents ($0.50) multiplied by the
number by which the “Paid Attendance” (as defined below) during the preceding
Regular Season exceeds two million. For purposed of this section, “Paid
Attendance” shall mean the number representing paid attendance for the Regular
Season as reported by Licensee to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.
Together with each such payment, Licensee shall provide to Licensor an officer’s
certificate certifying that the Paid Attendance used to calculate the payment
required by this Section 8.1(c) is the true and correct Paid Attendance as reported
to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.”
3. Concessions.
The License Agreement is hereby amended to add a new Section 12.5 to read as
follows:
“Effect of Termination of the License Agreement. Notwithstanding the
foregoing and regardless of whether Licensee has provided the notice required
under Section 7.2 above, if Licensee announces its intent or agrees to commence
playing its Home Games at any location outside of Alameda County during the
Option Period, all rights granted the Licensee under Section 12 shall immediately
terminate, (if such announcement occurs during the Option Period), or shall
terminate at the end of the Fixed Term (if such announcement occurs during the
Fixed Term) and the Licensor shall succeed to all such rights, except that
Licensee shall continue to have the sole right to all revenues received from the
sale of food and beverage at Home Games. Licensee agrees that, during the
Option Period, all contracts to provide or sell food and beverages at the Stadium,
including at Home Games, shall terminate on December 31 of each year unless
Licensee has given notice pursuant to Section 7.1 of Licensee’s election to
continue the License Agreement.”
4. Continuing Effect of License Agreement.
Except as otherwise expressly set forth in this Seventh Amendment, the License
Agreement shall remain in full force and effect. No other modification, alteration
and/or amendment of this Seventh Amendment and/or the License Agreement shall
be permitted, unless evidenced by the written consent of the parties hereto. This
Seventh Amendment, together with the License Agreement, is the entire agreement of
the parties and supercedes all prior agreements and representations, irrespective of
whether or not such are oral or written.
5. Counterparts.
This Seventh Amendment may be executed in any number of counterparts, each of
which shall be deemed to be an original and all of which together shall constitute one
agreement.
LICENSOR:
Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority,
A joint powers authority
By:
Gail Steele, chair
LICENSEE:
ATHLETICS INVESTMENTS GROUP LLC,
A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
By:
Manager

SEVENTH AMENDMENT

TO

OAKLAND -ALAMEDA COUNTY COLISEUM

OAKLAND ATHLETICS

AMENDED AND RESTATED STADIUM LICENSE AGREEMENT

This Seventh Amendment (the “Seventh Amendment”) to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics—Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement (as more particularly described in the Recitals below) is entered into as of the ___ day of _________ 2006 between Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, a joint exercise of powers authority established by the City of Oakland, a municipal corporation and a charter city duly organized and existing under the laws and the constitution of the State of California, and the County of Alameda, a political subdivision of the State of California (“Licensor”), and Athletics Investment Group LLC, a California limited liability company (“Licensee”).

Recitals

A. On October 31, 1995, Oakland Alameda County Coliseum, Inc., a California non-profit corporation (the “Former Licensor”) and The Oakland Athletics Baseball Company, a California limited partnership (“OABC”), entered into the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics—Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement (“License Agreement”).

B. On October 31, 1995, Licensee and Athletics Stadium Operations Company LLC, a California limited liability company (“ASOC”), acquired all of the partnership interests in OABC. Thereafter OABC assigned to ASOC all of OABC’s right, title and interest in and to the License Agreement.

C. On June 26, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered into a First Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum— Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

D. On July 30, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered into a Second Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum— Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

E. On October 9, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered into a Third Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum— Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

F. On December 24, 1998, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered into a Fourth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

G. On September , 2002, Licensor, Former Licensor and Licensee entered into a Fifth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum—Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

H. On March 23, 2006, Licensor, Former Licensor, Licensee and ASOC entered into a Sixth Amendment To The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum— Oakland Athletics Amended and Restated Stadium License Agreement.

I. On July 31, 2006, all rights of Former Licensor to license the Stadium terminated pursuant to the terms of the Operating Agreement, dated as of July 31, 1996, between the Licensee and the Former Licensee.

J. Licensor and Licensee desire to extend the term of, and otherwise further amend, the License Agreement as provided below.

K. The parties recognize that Section 31 of the License Agreement requires the approval of the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball of any such amendment.

L. The parties recognize that the Licensor is required to obtain the approval of the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda prior to entering to any such amendment.

M. As used herein, the term “License Agreement” shall mean the original License Agreement and all amendments to it as recited above; “Licensee” shall refer to Athletics Investment Group LLC; Licensor shall refer to the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority; and capitalized terms used but not defined herein shall have the meaning ascribed to them in the License Agreement.

Agreement

Now, Therefore, Licensor and Licensee hereby amend the License Agreement as follows:

1. Term of License Agreement.

Section 7.1 of the License Agreement is hereby amended to read, and is replaced in its entirety, as follows:

“This License Agreement shall be for a term commencing November 1, 1995 and ending on December 31, 2010 (the “Fixed Term”); provided, however, Licensee shall have the right to elect, as such right may be exercised in its absolute sole discretion, to continue the License Agreement on a “year-by-year” basis after the end of the Fixed Term through the end of the 2013 Baseball Season and to December 31st of such applicable year (the “Option Period”) on the terms and conditions applicable under this License Agreement. The Fixed Term and the Option Period are sometimes referred to in the License Agreement as the “Term.”

If Licensee elects for any reasons, as determined in its absolute sole discretion, to continue the License Agreement on a “year-by-year” basis after the end of the Fixed Term, them Licensee shall give Licensor written notice of its election to continue the License Agreement on or before July 15 preceding each year during which the License Agreement shall be continued,”

Section 7.2 of the License Agreement is hereby amended to read, and is replaced in its entirety, as follows:

“Provided Licensee is not in material default under the terms of this License Agreement and notwithstanding Section 7.1 above, Licensee, may at any time terminate the License Agreement, including this Seventh Amendment, as follows:

“(a) If Licensee evidences an intent to use, and thereafter does secure and/or otherwise contracts for the use of, a baseball facility to play its Home Games located within Alameda County, (i) upon providing to Licensor written notice One Hundred Twenty (120) days prior to the date of such termination and (ii) without the payment of any amounts otherwise due or payable or of any penalty or other consideration to, and without recourse by, Licensor and/or Authority or any other party; or

“(b) Notwithstanding and except as provided in Section 7.1 above, and as determined in its absolute sole discretion, upon (i) providing to Licensor written notice One Hundred Twenty (120) days prior to the date of such termination and (ii) the payment of all amounts due and all amounts that would become due through the end of the Fixed Term as provided in Section 8.1(a) of the License Agreement, as amended by this Seventh Amendment, plus an additional Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000); provided, however, with respect to such termination, in no case shall Licensee be obligated to pay any “Paid Attendance” amount provided in Section 8.1(c) below.”

2. License Fees.

Section 8.1 of the License Agreement is hereby amended in its entirety as follows:

“License Fees. As consideration for all of the use of areas licensed as described in Section 3, and Licensor’s other covenants and promises under this License Agreement, Licensee shall pay “License Fees” to Licensor as follows:

“(a) During the portion of the Fixed Term beginning January 1, 2003, Licensee shall pay the sums of (i) Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000) not later than each June 30 of and for the years 2003 through 2005; (ii) Five Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($550,000) not later than June 30 of and for the year 2006; (iii) Six Hundred Thousand Dollars ($600,000) not later than June 30 of and for the year 2007; and (iv) Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000) of and for the years 2008 through 2010;

“(b) Not later than June 30 of each year for which Licensee has given notice of continuation of the License Agreement during the Option Period pursuant to Section 7.1 above, Licensee shall pay the sums of (i) One Million Two Hundred Thousand Dollars ($1,200,000) for the year 2011; (ii) One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) for the year 2012; and (iii) Eight Hundred Thousand Dollars ($800,000) for the year 2013;

“(c) Not later than December 15 of each respective year during the portion of the Fixed Term beginning January 1, 2003 and ending December 31, 2006, Licensee shall pay the sum equal to Fifty Cents ($0.50) multiplied by the number by which the “Paid Attendance” (as defined below) during the preceding Regular Season exceeds two million. For purposed of this section, “Paid Attendance” shall mean the number representing paid attendance for the Regular Season as reported by Licensee to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.

Together with each such payment, Licensee shall provide to Licensor an officer’s certificate certifying that the Paid Attendance used to calculate the payment required by this Section 8.1(c) is the true and correct Paid Attendance as reported to the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.”

3. Concessions.

The License Agreement is hereby amended to add a new Section 12.5 to read as follows:

“Effect of Termination of the License Agreement. Notwithstanding the foregoing and regardless of whether Licensee has provided the notice required under Section 7.2 above, if Licensee announces its intent or agrees to commence playing its Home Games at any location outside of Alameda County during the Option Period, all rights granted the Licensee under Section 12 shall immediately terminate, (if such announcement occurs during the Option Period), or shall terminate at the end of the Fixed Term (if such announcement occurs during the Fixed Term) and the Licensor shall succeed to all such rights, except that Licensee shall continue to have the sole right to all revenues received from the sale of food and beverage at Home Games. Licensee agrees that, during the Option Period, all contracts to provide or sell food and beverages at the Stadium, including at Home Games, shall terminate on December 31 of each year unless Licensee has given notice pursuant to Section 7.1 of Licensee’s election to continue the License Agreement.”

4. Continuing Effect of License Agreement.

Except as otherwise expressly set forth in this Seventh Amendment, the License Agreement shall remain in full force and effect. No other modification, alteration and/or amendment of this Seventh Amendment and/or the License Agreement shall be permitted, unless evidenced by the written consent of the parties hereto. This Seventh Amendment, together with the License Agreement, is the entire agreement of the parties and supercedes all prior agreements and representations, irrespective of whether or not such are oral or written.

5. Counterparts.

This Seventh Amendment may be executed in any number of counterparts, each of which shall be deemed to be an original and all of which together shall constitute one agreement.

Where is Doug Llewelyn When You Need Him?

Oh boy, oh boy. I need some comedy. I mean aside from all the quasi lawyers posting their different rationales for lawsuits, or lack of lawsuits, by the City of San Francisco, the City of Oakland, or anyone else who can afford a lawyer in these trying economic times. So a joke:

Why won’t sharks eat lawyers? Professional courtesy! Whiz, bang, crash!

Now on to serious business. What are the real legal angles here? What similar court cases have been filed in the past and how do they relate to this situation?

I started to try and figure this out by looking into the Oklahoma City Thunder, then figured why not look at the A’s and Raider’s cases with Oakland and then tried to find something similar in baseball and looked at the City of San Diego and the Padres epic battle with historic preservationists, PETA and anti-tax groups.

Really, the only one that seems to be similar is the tale of the erstwhile Super Sonics. And not just because they were once green and gold. But let’s take ‘em one at a time, ending with the Thunder.

Detour: What the hell kind of name is “Thunder” anyway? I vote for a new rule. Let’s amend the US Constitution to state that if it doesn’t end with an “s” or “x” then it can’t be a team name. Can we San Jose Carpetbaggers , Oakland Onlyers and Somewhere in the Bay Area’s all agree on this? If the plural version of the word is the same as the word, no dice. So it is either the Orlando Magics or they get a sensible name or they are raided by a tea party protest brigade!

Back to the matter at hand. Wait, this is gonna be about legal stuff and what not so I have to get something out of the way.

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, I do not play one on TV and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. I do, however, have a frog in my pocket.

The San Diego events are not even remotely similar. They had more than a dozen lawsuits filed that mostly had to do with selling bonds to finance the stadium. Then a second kind of challenge was brought up and it had to do with destroying the Western Sheet Metal building, which had been designated a Historic Landmark. Funny that the thing I think coolest about that stadium may not even exist if not for that Historic Landmark designation. One other thing of note, PETA hates PETCO. And they surreptitiously purchased a brick for the concourse at the stadium and it reads “Break Open Your Cold Ones Toast The Padres Enjoy This Championship Organization.” The first letters of each word spelling “BOYCOTTPETCO.” I am not a huge PETA fan, nor detractor… but this is pure comedic genius.

So, if not San Diego, then where? How bout Oakland?

The City of Oaktown is no stranger to legal wrangling with the local teams. The A’s once sued the city for $48 Million in lost revenue based on the construction of Mt. Davis. (And some people said the A’s never mentioned they wanted a new stadium). Of course this suit was dropped when the A’s agreed to put the team up for sale at the “discounted” price of $120 Million and stay in Oakland for 3 years while Oakland made a payment of $2 Million to the team and reduced the A’s annual rent to $0.00 from $350k.  The City then put forth the Dolich group which was put through the rigors of MLB’s ownership committee only to be denied a vote when the league instead voted 28-2 to establish a Blue Ribbon Committee to study baseball’s financial landscape and halted any pending ownership decisions in the process (though the fact that 28 other owners voted for a BRC instead of a final vote on Dolich and crew might let you know what they thought of the proposal). Is your head spinning yet? And this is just the beginning of our current saga… I will spare you the rest, other than to say that the Raiders, Warriors and A’s other legal entanglements with Oakland have nothing to do with precedent setting and the San Francisco veiled threat of a letter.

So what about the Oklahoma City Thunders…. For all the similarities, there are differences. For one the NBA doesn’t have an exemption from Anti-Trust Laws. Another thing is that Seattle sued to keep a team within its borders, not to stop a team outside of its borders from moving to a city further away from its borders. Lastly, the former owner sued to invalidate the sale due to fraud by the Oklahoma City group.

So first, the San Francisco threat is nothing like any of this. If Oakland should try to take up the cause of suing the A’s, in the event of an actual relocation, they should read up on this case. First, Seattle sued the Sonics for breaking a lease. There were two years left technically, and with these 2 years as leverage the City was able to get $45 Million bucks out the Sonics. Additionally, if no new team comes to Seattle by 2013, the Thunders will be sending a check for $30 Million to the Emerald City.

Things to note… There is no more Sonics. There is no more NBA in Seattle. Despite a lease agreement, the City failed to keep the team in town. Oakland doesn’t even have the lease as leverage. The A’s are allowed to move, the payoff is already included in the year by year lease should that move take them out of Alameda County. It is a lot less money too.

So how bout the claims of fraud? Turns out, the NBA and MLB have similar protections. The former Sonics owner, Mr. Howard Schultz, had agreed (in writing, as it were) not to sue Mr. Clay Bennett and eventually dropped his suit as a result. Even though there was evidence of fraud in the form of emails between Clay and his partners. In the emails, they clearly discussed the fact that they bought the team with an intention to move it, though they expressed their desire to stay put to Schultz.

In the A’s case, the current ownership group has no such agreement with the former owners or the City of Oakland. The previous ownership group promised to keep the team in Oakland through 2001 back in 1998. Lew Wolff bought the team with Mr. Fisher under no false pretenses.

I guess I just don’t see any angles for either San Francisco or Oakland to actually win a lawsuit. The only similar lawsuit I am aware of didn’t conclude on the desired note for the City of Seattle. The only sure thing is that we should probably see some more fireworks before this whole thing is over. And if those fireworks are in the form of a good plan in Oakland, the team will stay. If they are in the form of threatened lawsuits… Well, that is a different story.