Strange bedfellows

After Dave Newhouse’s A’s/Warriors panel with Oakland mayoral candidates at the beginning of the month, it wasn’t clear if anything would come of their responses. According to East Bay Express scribe Robert Gammon, it appears that something happened, as Lew Wolff and John Fisher gave a combined $25,000 to Don Perata’s campaign two weeks ago, perhaps a reward for his “candor.” Just to refresh your memory, here’s what Perata said about keeping the A’s in Oakland:

“I probably know a little more about this stuff than most people. I was part of two Raider deals that both failed. We got held up; we really did — by both (the A’s and Raiders). We got rid of the Coliseum board and then politicized it. … In retrospect, it was a disaster. I don’t think the A’s are going to stay here. We can’t play in this game, putting up the money. We haven’t been smart with our franchises.”

Gammon also got some follow-up from candidate and current City Council member Rebecca Kaplan.

Perata appeared uninterested in talking about keeping the A’s in town, according to several attendees. “He was very evasive,” said Kaplan, who was at the meeting with Quan, Perata, and fellow mayoral candidate Joe Tuman. “He basically conveyed that keeping the A’s is not very important.”

So, is it simply a matter of A’s ownership supporting Perata after the position was made public? Or was there a sort of quid pro quo there? Of course, Wolff denies any sort of link between the donation and the stance. Was the donation made because they truly feel that Perata is the best candidate? R-i-i-i-i-i-g-h-t. Though it should be mentioned that many longtime Perata friends, those who’d support a JLS ballpark, also donated serious money to Perata’s campaign affiliated, police union-funded political group. FWIW, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed was reelected in June and virtually no one noticed.

The rather prolific (at least recently) White Elephant Parade looked up contributions by both teams, and found that the Giants donated nearly double the amount of the A’s during the same 2009-10 state legislative session.

For Wolff and Fisher, $25,000 is a trifle, especially compared to the land bill they’ll face as San Jose’s Redevelopment Agency checks the couch cushions for change needed to buy the rest of the Diridon ballpark site.

39 thoughts on “Strange bedfellows

  1. Looks to me without knowing if they expect anything else from Perata (like a stadium or help with one), that they want him in because he’s disinterested in helping the A’s. A disinterested mayor like Perata claims to be would be the end of any shot that Oakland has at keeping the A’s and would be one more piece of ammo toward an eventual South Bay move. Essentially Oakland will cease to be in the running to keep their MLB team by the end of election day if the current polls hold any water (Perata is still leading by a good margin).

  2. I wonder if the MLB BRC is still grinding away at numbers. I just don’t see how a campaign donation at this point would be of any consequence unless Wolff had any reason to believe Oakland is somehow a possibility. Or perhaps simply having a positive relationship with the mayor will make the post-breakup move out easier for both sides? $25,000 may be a trifle to Wolff/Fisher, but it’s a pretty hefty individual contribution for an Oakland mayoral mayoral campaign.

  3. with so much money involved, it pays to cover all bases i suppose.

  4. If Perata wins, after expressing a cause-is-already-lost attitude about the A’s, this will again reaffirm that Oakland voters simply don’t see much value in having a Major League Baseball franchise. The same as when they voted in Dellums and Jerry Brown.

  5. Wha? Signature Properties donated $10,000 to the same Perata affiliated group (same CalAccess link as above). Shouldn’t they be donating money to defeat Perata in lieu of Victory court proponent Quan? Do they have bigger interests in Oakland than the Victory Court site or are they just trying to make nice with they favorite?

  6. Perata lied. He never tried! :X

  7. Actually, if Perata doesn’t try he’ll have told the truth… OAFC will need a new slogan for him.

  8. I imagine Signature Properties has donated to several candidates. Ballpark or no, they will need support to get Oak to 9th rolling (at long last).

  9. @PJK

    Never thought of it that way. Voting is the voice of the people. Peralta has stated that he will not try to keep the A’s. If that resonates with Oakland, then MLB will have to seriously consider that to be the choice of the people.

  10. The contribution to Perata by Wolff/Fisher is good news. What Perata actually said he would not support using public funds for a new ballpark in Downtown Oakland. Indirectly, he is support the 980 air rights site, which is the only one than would not require a long term public subsidy. The land is free, the ramp relocation would cost $30M some of which may be Federally funded. Land rent could reimburse the city for any up front cost. For example, the Giants pay the Port of Oakland $3.6M/year, which means the land is worth $50M if rent is capitalized at 7 percent. The 980 site wouldn’t require that much rent. Any reduction in rent could be used by the A’s to offset additional costs of building over the freeway. Note that AT&T park was built on a pile supported structure on their own nickel due to poor soils, similar to what would be expected at Victory Court. So if cost of the structure is on piles, the only additional cost of building over a freeway, is false work for concrete, lighting, ventilation and dealing with construction traffic. Most of these additional costs would go away if steel construction were used. So if the land is worth $50M and ramps cost $30, the remainder could go to the A’s to offset construction over the freeway. Anyway you look at it, there would be no long term subsidy. VC and Diridon will require $200M+ in public subsidy when you consider land acquisition (eminent domain), relocation, toxic remediation, roadway and other infrastructure upgrades. 980 Park works.

  11. @Bryan Grunwald – I really like the 980 deck concept and think it could work quite well. Unfortunately, not only has it dropped off MLB’s list (which is what really counts), it doesn’t appear to have any major political support in Oakland. At this point it only has a slightly better chance of happening than the aborted Warm Springs BART ballpark plan in Fremont.

  12. @Marine Layer.

    Where do find MLB’s list???

    In this economy, money-jobs-tax revenue talks. The SJRA is broke and the Oakland Agency isn’t far behind.

    Oakland needs to save the jobs and the A’s are willing to build a ballpark if the City gives/provides them land and infrastructure upgrades to build the ballpark.

    This is an opportunity for the new mayor, whom ever he is, to rise to the challenge.

  13. “Oakland needs to save the jobs and the A’s are willing to build a ballpark if the City gives/provides them land and infrastructure upgrades to build the ballpark.”

    Where have the A’s said they’d provide the ballpark if the city provides the land in Oakland. Last I’d heard they’re willing to do that in San Jose, but only because they want to be in San Jose and can more readily recoup their costs in the larger more affluent (both private and large corporation) city.

  14. @Bryan Grunwald – MLB won’t publish the list. They probably won’t even publish their long overdue report. We’re just going on what we’ve heard from sources in both San Jose and Oakland. And as Dan said, the A’s aren’t “willing” to build a ballpark in Oakland. To Lew Wolff, Oakland hasn’t been an option in at least three years. MLB would have to force the A’s to reconsider Oakland. It could happen, but is it likely? Probably not.

  15. @Dan: Mayor Perata/carries Wolff’s water.

  16. baycommuter, don’t know about that. All Wolff needs him to do is keep being his disinterested self and the A’s are out of Oakland and Wolff wins.

  17. Let’s see who is disinterested in Oakland having a baseball team:

    * In the early 90s, the A’s ask for baseball-only improvements to the Coliseum but see the place turned into a football stadium instead.
    * During Mayor Jerry Brown’s reign, City Manager Robert Bobb devises a plan for a downtown ballpark. Brown promptly fires him.
    * Lew Wolff devises his north-of-the-Coliseum plan for a new ballpark and gets yawns from the city.
    * One current mayoral candidate expresses a “cause is lost” attitude about the A’s; another preaches “not one dime for the A’s”

    It’s amazing for Oakland to play the victim card here.

  18. Pjk hit the nail on the head! What some here are overlooking in regards to the $25k contribution to the
    Perata campaign is this: Lew Wolff is first and foremost a real estate developer and hotel tycoon.
    He may still want to invest/build in Oakland in the future, be it residential, commercial or hospitality.
    Coupled with knowing Perata for years and the $25k donation makes a world of sense.

  19. @pjk The reason the Coliseum site for a new A’s ballpark got yawns was:

    1. The City didn’t want to pay $30M for a garage to replace the parking.

    2. MLB wanted a Downtown site and wouldn’t contribute $150M to building the ballpark unless it was Downtown.

    What is important in the 980 Park concept is it may not cost the city of Oakland anything. Hence the base of political support.

  20. I didn’t even mention the Coliseum. I mentioned the north-of-the-Coliseum proposal that went nowhere. Oakland has known for close to 20 years that the A’s need a new ballpark. What has the city done? Not only obstructed the A’s at every turn, they wrecked the ballpark they already had. And now we’re supposed to believe poor Oakland is the victim here now that the A’s – gasp – actually want to leave.

  21. @B Grunwald–you continue to overlook one key element–in order for LW/JF to privately finance a ballpark they need to believe that there will be a significant and consistent revenue stream from corporate sponsors as well as fans willing to buy PSL’s. When you say that this site will cost Oakland nothing you overlook the fact that in order for anyone to privately finance a ballpark in Oakland they will need about $100M+ in public funds to cover projected corporate/economic differences between the 2 areas—part of this was to come in the form of a loan from MLB to Oakland—not a gift–hence—even without infrastrucutre requirements there will need to be a significant public contribution from Oakland to make any of their sites viable for a privately financed ballpark.

  22. 980 “Floating Mountains” ballpark won’t cost the city of Oakland anything? YEAAAH RIGHT!
    By the way, MLB was going to pay $150 mil for a downtown Oakland ballpark…AND THEY STILL COULDN’T COME THROUGH!?
    More ammo for yah pjk ;o)

  23. @GoA’s–I guess I am missing something in the financing strategy. My understanding of the deal is the City provides the land and infrastructure upgrades and the Team/MLB finance the rest.

    I have already explained how the City can fund the 980 Park without a public subsidy (it may have to lend some funds for infrastructure that will be paid back in rent).

    My understanding of the financing of the ballpark which is the responsibility of the team is $150M loan from MLB, $100M from resale of luxury suites (I am assuming 60), $100M sale of naming rights and any remainder equity comes from the Team owners. Doug Boxer already has a stable of luxury suite buyers who have put up $500K earnest money.

    I don’t see where the City has to guarantee anything. Please explain.

    • @Bryan Grunwalk

      My understanding of the deal is the City provides the land and infrastructure upgrades and the Team/MLB finance the rest.

      .

      The the gist of things in San Jose, but not Oakland. The A’s ownership aren’t currently looking to privately finance a ballpark in Oakland.

  24. re: luxury suite buyers who have put up $500K earnest money.

    Wow. And Cisco has signed on for $120 mill for naming rights, but probably not if the ballpark is in Oakland.

    San Jose ballpark sponsorships: $120 mill so far
    Oakland ballpark sponsorships: $500K so far.

    Why doesn’t one of these gung-ho-for-Oakland corporations put its money where its mouth and start out by sponsoring the existing Coliseum?

  25. Bryan, your financing model is wishful thinking. Where will these $100 million in luxury suite buyers in Oakland come from, and frankly where have they been the last 40 years? Yes Boxer found $500k worth of buyers… you’ll need $99.5 million more. Where will the $120 million naming rights sponsor come from? Cisco has not signed up to sponsor a ballpark in Oakland, they signed up to sponsor one on property they previously owned in Fremont and to sponsor one in the downtown of the city they’re based in, but not Oakland (and as was mentioned above, where is the company currently sponsoring the Coliseum?) Who is going to force Wolff to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a city he’s less likely to make his money back in? And what makes you think MLB is going to loan the A’s $150 million dollars because they’ve not indicated they’d do so anywhere else.

  26. I don’t see Doug Boxer offering to buy the A’s and build the ballpark in Oakland himself. He wants others to take the risk.

    • Let’s not misrepresent what Let’s Go Oakland’s $500k means. It probably translates to millions of dollars worth of sponsorships and suites, though there’s a question of whether it’d be enough to cover the debt service on the $150 million loan. Oakland businesses, such as they are, should not be taken to task for what’s happening between the A’s and Oakland. The Coliseum is just as bad for them as it is for the team.

  27. If we want an assessment of how a brand new facility might fare with corporate sponsors in the East Bay, Oakland built dozens of brand spanking new luxury boxes for the Raiders in 1995 and to the best of my knowledge, sales of those boxes was a big failure.

  28. Greg P, why are you such a shill?

  29. For as much as I’d like to see Fosse and Kuiper replaced, I am very thankful that Greg Papa is no longer around.

  30. BTW, I posted on Lew Wolff’s interview last Friday. All I know is it aired last Friday and it was followed by an interview with the author of a book on Hank Aaron. I’ll try and look for the podcast later.

  31. yeah i posted the link to the podcast above.

    couldn’t find the interview? you know when during the 3 hour show wolff was on? early, middle, late?

    i doubt wolff would say anything most here haven’t read or heard about themselves in recent weeks.

  32. I’ve poked around Friday’s and the surrounding days’ podcasts and can’t find it either. I only caught the final few moments of the Wolff interview. It was followed by an interview with the author of “Hammering Hank: How the Media….” which I just looked up and was published in 2006, so there’s a good chance this was just an old interview. Sorry for the bad info.

  33. @Briggs
    What’s wrong with Fosse? I’m just curious, I’ve always enjoyed listening to him.

  34. On the topic, I can’t figure out if this mayoral situation is good or bad for the A’s. As a long time supporter of keeping the A’s in Oakland, I found myself coming around on the San Jose option as the deck seemed to be continually stacking up for a move. San Jo has money, a site, an aggressive plan, the will of the owner, etc. Oakland has the hopes of probably most current fans and little else… some money, and a few potential, unproven sites. I almost feel as though a mayor with more interest in keeping the A’s will force them back into a process that will delay the A’s getting a new park even further and with no guarantees (no real confidence, really) that the outcome will be different. I don’t think it’s looking good for Oakland, which is sad because with all that dilapidated, unused, property out there, surely there’s a solution… All I know is that the A’s can’t play in the Coliseum forever.

  35. ebad, I can’t speak for Briggs but I can say from my perspective Ray Fosse is horrible at just about every aspect of broadcasting. His interviews are horrible with questions like, “When you are int the batter’s box and you see that inside pitch and you have to turn really fast to gt it… How do you do that?” When you ask some one a question, it should probably not contain the answer… Just saying. His “insights” during the game lack any sort of depth. He doesn’t really explain the game behind the game. And all of this while not even having anything unique about his delivery.

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