I wasn’t able to attend this morning’s Coliseum Authority meeting. Thankfully for everyone, Steven Tavares of the East Bay Citizen was. And the story he got coming out of there was quite a doozy. The JPA approved a $1 million contract for additional studies on Coliseum City, which we figured would happen given the new pro-development makeup of the JPA board. What we didn’t see coming was just how the study would be paid for.
How the Authority will pay the $1 million in total costs for the two studies also rankled some commissioners. According to Alameda County Auditor-Controller Pat O’Connell, the Authority will “short” a $3.5 million capital improvements fund previously earmarked for a new scoreboard at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics and the Authority have been in negotiations to replace the out-of-date scoreboards, said Goodwin, and Friday’s decision may negatively impact relations with the A’s, also in search of a new ballpark.
“What’s the message we’re sending to the A’s?” Goodwin asked. According to staff, the A’s estimate the costs of the scoreboards to be $4 million. “Well, it better cost closer to $2.5 million, if we do what we’re about to do,” countered Haggerty. The alternative, said O’Connell, would be to ask the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and Oakland City Council for addition funds, a move likely unpopular on both fronts.
Maybe the shortfall will force the JPA to buy used. Whether that’s enough to get improvements or not, it’s a clear indicator that the East Bay is going forward on Coliseum City, cost uncertainty and other tenant issues be damned.
Worse, the retractable roof concept appears to have gained traction, even though it will surely inflate the project’s price tag. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell was careful to note that all three current tenants would get new venues under the plan, though as usual, how that would all come together was not articulated. Even the Raiders are not a given in terms of paying for their part of the study, as the NFL and team are fashioning their own – for a stadium only with little ancillary development.
Doesn’t this seem like a lot of flailing right now? This is despite having the project under consideration for the better part of three years. Many in Oakland are quite convinced that this is the vision for the city’s future. What of the teams? Aren’t they supposed to be partners in this? Aren’t they paying the freight? Apparently that doesn’t matter, not as long as one great redevelopment plan remains out there for someone to stake their political career to.