Mayors go on the offensive, Wolff to meet with Knauss on Friday
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is having caviar dreams on a canned tuna budget.
Quan finally agreed to an interview with The Game’s Chris Townsend, though he had to travel to Oakland City Hall to do it. I listened to the exchange intently, looking for some semblance of consistent messaging throughout. For the most part the message was consistent, but probably not what the teams and fans are looking for.
Quan continued to tout Coliseum City as a massive development stretching over 500 acres that could attract 32,000 jobs, major hotels, corporations, and anywhere from one to four pro sports franchises. That’s right, four. When Townsend pressed her on what she meant by that, she said that the City was looking at teams outside of the current three tenants.
In the wake of the Warriors’ announcement that they intend to build a new arena in San Francisco, East Bay backers are already talking about luring either the Sacramento Kings or San Jose Sharks to Oakland. Oracle Arena is built for basketball, not hockey, so the Sharks are out of the question. The Kings are a more intriguing proposition since Oracle is miles ahead of ARCO/Power Balance in terms of modernity and amenities. However, you can bet that Joe Lacob and Peter Guber would fight tooth and nail to keep a second team out of the Bay Area. Even if the NBA were to allow it, the Lacob/Guber ownership group would get a tidy compensation check from whomever brought a team to Oakland. You can forget about that being the Maloofs since they’re broke. David Stern has also stopped Larry Ellison twice from relocating a team to San Jose, so you can glean from those vetoes that Stern considers the Bay Area a single-team market. Remember that Oakland’s gambit is to replace Oracle Arena with a new one if the Warriors stayed. There is zero chance of anyone building an arena in Oakland if the Warriors are in SF. They’ll just soldier on with the current arena, which again is a perfectly fine venue from a technical standpoint.
As for the A’s, Quan revealed a couple of things that are quite germane to Oakland’s efforts going forward. She seems fully committed to Coliseum City in whatever form it takes. When asked about a site in downtown Oakland, she said that if Clorox CEO Don Knauss wants to move in that direction and can figure out how to pay for the extra cost, it shouldn’t affect Coliseum City adversely. She didn’t exactly dismiss Howard Terminal or Victory Court, but by now she has to be fully aware of the nine-figure costs associated with either of those sites, which makes them quite difficult to develop. For that she deserves a lot of credit – Oakland’s advantages are that it has land and a potentially easier process to develop venues. The flipside to that argument is that Oakland’s not as desirable or coveted as SF or San Jose, so there’s a very good reason why it’s easier or more available.
Beyond that, Quan may be getting a bit too starry-eyed for her own good.
As long as we have one huge sports facility [plus] we will have a much bigger convention center than we currently have in downtown Oakland.
That sounds like a pivot to me. If Quan and the City are pivoting it’s probably no coincidence that AEG is on board to manage the complex and provide consulting for the next phase of the Coliseum, which would be to have something along the lines of what they are planning in LA: retractable roof stadium, arena, and convention center in one location. Maybe AEG will get a team to relocate there, maybe they won’t. What they can do is influence both LA and Oakland by shaping development there. It worked in LA, and it sure looks like it’s moving in that direction at the Coliseum. Two years I wrote about re-using the Coliseum for a convention center after teams vacated. It sounded preposterous back then, but it could make sense with AEG steering things. Though again, it’s important to note that AEG has never shown much interest in baseball. AEG could decide that it would be best to use as much available land as possible for a top-notch convention center. A large convention center can easily take up a greater footprint than two stadia side-by-side.
The “one huge sports facility” term has me intrigued. Now the thought of Cowboys Stadium doesn’t sound quite as far-fetched since it would be part and parcel with the convention center. The key would be the flexibility of the stadium. If you want to go full-bore crazy, Oakland should shoot for what Doha, Qatar is doing with one of its 2022 World Cup venues. Called Doha Sports City Stadium, it’s a retractable domed affair with movable seating decks and facilities built into the roof, not a mere steel or fabric shell.
The project picks up where Japan’s Saitama Super Arena left off, doubling SSA in size and scale (UNLV has a similar proposal to SSA). Let’s be clear about what DSCS is: $1.5 billion in state oil profits to be used for a showcase venue that could conceivably be used for a future Olympics gig. And if you think the picture above is nuts, save your jawdrop for the next image.
I suppose that the attitude here is that if this is going to cost $2 billion, might as well go all the way. Something like DSCS would certainly give Oakland the “one huge sports facility” that Quan alluded to.
Meanwhile in San Jose, the City is quietly building up its case and legal team for a potential attack on baseball’s antitrust exemption. The call for such a lawsuit has only gotten louder in the last several weeks as the team continues to languish with no direction in sight. San Jose is not going to sue as long as Lew Wolff continues to follow MLB’s process. The buzz will only get louder. I’ve even heard that legal proceedings may not cost the City much if anything. We’ll see if that actually happens. I wrote last week that as long as Selig doesn’t make a decision, there’s no trigger for a lawsuit since Bud Selig can say he’s continuing to study the matter. That could be a big reason why Wolff’s position has been “any decision is better than none” since either a yes or no could provide a jumping off point for Wolff.
Wolff supposedly met or is meeting with Don Knauss today, according to the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. Maybe they’ll share Diamond Level seats for tonight’s Yankees game. Maybe Wolff will host Knauss in the owner’s suite. Knowing what we know about what both sides want, I don’t expect any earthshaking news. If I hear something I’ll be sure to update this post accordingly.
Update 5/26 7:37 AM – BANG’s Joe Stiglich has this regarding the Wolff-Knauss meeting:
A’s co-owner Lew Wolff confirmed that he met Friday with Clorox CEO Don Knauss, who has been outspoken about wanting to keep the A’s in Oakland.
Wolff declined to share what exactly the two discussed, other than to say he enjoyed the chance to talk with Knauss.
“I think we had a nice dialogue,” Wolff said. “We just exchanged some ideas. That’s all I want to say.”
There you have it.
BTW, I’ll be tailgating at today’s Yankees game. If you want to drop by and chat, reply here or via Twitter. I’ll provide location info once in the parking lot.