A River (of shit) Runs Through It

There’s fifty feet of crap. And then there’s us. – Billy Beane, Moneyball

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in "Moneyball"

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane describing the A’s station in “Moneyball”

Figurative turned literal on Sunday, as the A’s and Mariners (and umpires) were forced to vacate their respective clubhouses after the game because of a sewage backup. The backup caused sewage to seep out of the shower drains as players were trying to clean up. Both teams were forced to use the Raiders’ locker room showers, which are located a level up in the old Exhibit Hall.

As part of the 1995 Mt. Davis renovations, the Exhibit Hall was transformed into new football locker rooms, while the A’s clubhouse and visiting facilities remained mostly untouched. As a result, the plumbing in the clubhouses continues to deteriorate and requires constant repairs, which the A’s usually end up paying for during the season. Per the team’s lease, they can deduct the cost of the repairs against their annual rent payment. During the NFL offseason, the Raiders locker room often gets used as an extra staging area for VIPs. As a part of the stadium that was constructed less than 20 years ago, it’s in much better shape than the old baseball clubhouses.

In 2011, I asked Lew Wolff about the state of affairs at the Coliseum. Here’s an excerpt of our discussion:

Wolff: We’re constantly making repairs that are not our obligation.

ML: Really? Like what?

Wolff: Leaks and things. The scoreboard. There are two of them because of football. I think they’re finally going to replace them, but if they don’t there are no more parts. If a light goes out we borrow it from another one. It’s aggravating. But they basically say they don’t have any money. They still have bonds to pay off. The place is old and this is not the time for cities to write a check for sports.

Two years later the leaks have gotten worse and the scoreboard still needs replacement, with funds to make that happen siphoned away to study Coliseum City. It’s easy to make scoreboards a low priority at a decrepit place like the Coliseum since they don’t affect players or revenues. Functional clubhouses, however, are a different matter entirely. It’s one thing if the clubhouse flooding and contamination was confined solely to the A’s clubhouse. This time it affected both teams and the umpires. Now there’s the prospect of complaints being filed by the A’s, Mariners, and the players’ and umpires’ unions. (Susan Slusser noted that the Angels complained about a similar incident in 2001, citing a possible E. Coli threat.) Ultimately the responsibility falls on the Coliseum Authority, the body acting as the landlord for the three Coliseum tenant teams. A Herculean effort by an industrial cleanup company like ServPro should get the place up and running. The structural deficiencies will continue to linger.

I know next to nothing about engineering sewer systems, but I do know that having facilities below sea level (such as the clubhouses) can make it difficult to get a proper gravity-based flow going. The funny thing is that one of EBMUD’s huge sewer interceptors runs right through the Coliseum complex, so it should be easy to get wastewater and sewage out of the complex assuming that the sewer lines and pumps are working properly. Evidently at least one part of the stadium’s sewage infrastructure wasn’t working at all. Think about that. There is a river of shit running right through the Coliseum and somehow it couldn’t be utilized on Sunday.

Some are pointing to the possibility that the sewer system was taxed by large crowds. The A’s drew 171,756 total fans during this recent six-game homestand. Let’s put that in perspective. That’s 28,626 per game, or roughly half the originally designed 1966 capacity of the Coliseum. Even the Sunday sellout was only 57% of the 2012 football capacity. The system as a whole should not have been stressed in the slightest.

As the investigation into the cause of the incident continues, it will occur against the backdrop of ongoing lease negotiations. Previously it was assumed that the Authority would have a good deal of leverage because the A’s have nowhere else to play in the Bay Area post-2013. Now the tables have turned, as it can be argued by many parties that the Coliseum is unfit to host MLB games until the clubhouse sewage problem and other deficiencies are addressed. MLB could even step in to make preconditions on the JPA prior to further lease talks. That would put the JPA in quite the pickle. How can the JPA recover more money from the A’s towards Coliseum debt service if it has to fund additional, costly improvements at the Coliseum? If the JPA wants to lock the A’s into a deal longer than 5 years, how much money is the JPA willing to put up to make it worth the A’s and MLB’s while? And how does that coincide with any requests the Raiders are making for their lease extension?

Prior to this incident, Lew Wolff offered to continue on at the Coliseum for five years with the current use terms, rent TBD. He could and should demand infrastructure improvements, but he and Michael Crowley could be enticed to stand pat and maintain the status quo since it would be less complicated. It would be hard for the A’s to make any leasehold improvements without prior approval of the JPA, and since they’re not bound by the lease beyond December there’s no immediate incentive to do so. All they’ll probably do at the moment is make necessary repairs, clean and disinfect the place, lay down some new carpet in the affected areas, and hope for the best. While that should be enough to get through the rest of the season, imagine another sewage incident occurring during the postseason. What kind of PR disaster would that be for Oakland? And I can’t image naming rights sponsor O.co is thrilled to be associated with this debacle. It’s bad enough that from afar the stadium resembles a toilet.

Three weeks ago Jon Heyman incurred the wrath of A’s fans over his snide tweet comparing AT&T Park to the Coliseum. He mostly stayed away from any remarks this time around, except for a retweet of Slusser getting a David Rinetti (A’s VP of stadium operations) quote:

Smart move by Heyman to stay away from this mess, though I wouldn’t blame him if he gloated in private. Trololol.

—–

Update 10:45 AMBob Nightengale has a choice quote from Wolff and reiterates a story from February.

The A’s, of course, have tried to bolt town for the last five years. The San Francisco Giants won’t share their territory and permit the Athletics to move to San Jose. Major League Baseball, which hoped the A’s and Giants would somehow reach an agreement on their own, finally got a resolution from their blue ribbon committee. The committee submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the requirements, a move could soon be underway.

Wolff won’t talk about the guidelines. Neither will the Giants. Or even Major League Baseball.

Well, since the NSA isn’t sharing any of Wolff’s telephone conversations with Commissioner Bud Selig, it’s fair to say that if Wolff agreed to the parameters, he’d have a shovel in his hand today digging into the San Jose soil.

Wolff denied the February report in last week’s radio interview. Clearly something isn’t meshing here. The two short-term decisions at the moment are the lease and the S4SJ lawsuit. It would make sense to wait to announce something until both of those issues are resolved.

—–

Update 2:30 PM – Amazingly, Lew Wolff is pulling his punches, at least according to a new Carl Steward article.

“What it says basically is that it’s a deteriorating facility,” he said. “I think everybody is aware of that, even the people who run it. We’re sort of all in this together, so it isn’t something I would use … we just have to solve it right now.”

Wolff downplayed that this might be the kind of incident that would give him extra ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A’s situation, which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess the team’s options.

“Even if they said tomorrow, `OK, you can have a new stadium,’ we can’t do it in one day,” Wolff said. “We’re still going to have a plumbing issue.’”

Of course, Wolff isn’t going to stop the M’s, other teams, MLBPA, or WUA (umpires) from filing their own complaints. Those may have more bite. On the other hand, Billy Beane’s comments were a little more pointed.

“Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time,” Beane said. “Our employees are impacted by this. I was the first to see the manager’s office (Sunday), but we see it all the time, and this is not unusual. I don’t blame them (the Mariners) for reacting, but we have to live with it on a semi-regular basis.

“If we say anything, we’re told we’re being opportunist,” Beane added. “I wish these were working conditions we didn’t have to work with. When it affects somebody other than us, it becomes a story. I’m used to it. I deal with it.”

Doesn’t get more Oakland than that.

113 thoughts on “A River (of shit) Runs Through It

  1. Hell if I were him I’d gloat in public. He was right. The Coliseum is as of today no longer fit to be a major league venue. Not without some serious repairs and upgrades we all know will not be forthcoming.

  2. Do the A’s even want to stay in the Coli now after this crap? Five years of temporary bleachers in San Jose or even Raley’s Field/SAC is looking a whole lot better now..

  3. We can lay the blame for this at the feet of Mr. Bud Selig, who continues to do nothing about the A’s while he awaits a miracle solution in Oakland.

  4. Listening to Dan Dibley on 95.7 the game call puddles is raw sewage a “home field advantage” is just mind numbing. Good grief… Try to imagine going to work in a place with puddles of brown water at your feet. Home field advantage?

  5. That’s what the 49ers (and the Giants pre-PhoneBoothStadium) have been saying for a couple of decades now.

    Doesn’t matter if the water’s brown, just so long as there ain’t any chunks. Man up, Nancy.

  6. Five years of temporary bleachers in San Jose still requires three quarters of the owners to sign off on.

  7. Honestly, I don’t think that it is “manning up” to wade around in filth. But, you can think whatever you want. I am cool with stumbling through the mud, but bacteria infested raw sewage is a different story altogether.
    .
    Also, I question why there is this assumption among Oakland folks (Georob, the Texan Oakland folk included) that there aren’t ENOUGH votes for the A’s to move. It was the A’s, after all, that have already tried to get a vote on the owner’s meeting agenda. It was Selig that blocked that.
    .
    If we follow the logic that Selig is trying to keep the Giants happy, which I think is at least part of the equation, than why would he block a vote? Why would the A’s push a vote? If they both knew the likely outcome, it’s not hard to understand why the A’s would want one and Selig wouldn’t… No?
    .
    Of course, in a week all of this will meant nothing… Because so far, every development has meant nothing.

  8. Damn Rob, you’re so @&%# smart! I wish we could all be as knowledgable as you when it comes to this crappy saga. Anything else to add Einstein? BTW, Wolff most likely has the votes necessary to make it happen (based on recent quotes). Of course, you don’t like that, but oh well!! Speaking of idiocy, it’s amazing that some are blaming Mr. Wolff for the crap at the Coli. Also, as a Raiders fan I have to deal with this shit TWICE!

  9. I don’t listen to sports talk radio so I don’t know if Dibley was being serious, but I’d hope he was joking.

    Anyway, this is a time when people could jump all over the JPA/Selig/whoever about the condition of the Coliseum being an ongoing detriment to the A’s, and people SHOULD do that.

    It’s not even a new thing. It’s just the first time it’s been this bad. People have smelled raw sewage around the dugouts before, even if there were no floods. If something like this happens when the largest crowd is around 35k at the end of a normal six-game homestand, people miss the point if they act like a sellout is the reason.

    No, it’s because the place is a dump with failing equipment and should be torn down. There’s no renovation that will fix all of what ails the place.

    There’s been talk before that big free agents won’t come to the A’s in part because of the ballpark itself, and there’s no question the latest episode will only cement that problem as long as the A’s are stuck there.

    Would you want to play half your games in a place where at any time, you could end up with raw sewage in your own clubhouse? I wouldn’t.

    It’s a testament to Clay Wood and the groundskeepers for keeping that field in as nice a condition as they do, because everything else about the Coliseum is now subpar for MLB standards.

    Whether Wolff has or hasn’t given Oakland a fair chance to get a ballpark built is not the issue, either. It’s MLB and Bud Selig continuing to drag feet on delivering a decision about territorial rights and San Jose. Until that’s done, whether it’s a yes or no for an A’s move, this purgatory in the Coliseum will continue no matter how good a team Billy Beane is able to put out there.

  10. Just another 7 weeks or so and it’s time to put football stands and football yard markers on the A’s baseball field.

  11. I was definitely confounded that Dibley stated this could actually help Oakland and not help San Jose. How would this help Oakland? There is still no place to build a stadium that wouldn’t cost bazillions to just prepare. And really, no scoreboards so we can study Coliseum City? This entire saga is sooo beyond ridiculous.

  12. Any chance this prompts the A’s current owners to reopen dialog with Oakland officials about actually pursuing a stadium within their MLB territory? We’ve been waiting for 4+ years for any movement on the SJ front with nothing happening, yet no other options are considered while the Coliseum continues to deteriorate, with this sewer debacle the latest example. In my opinion its just a shame the A’s don’t have owners who can come up with a Plan B, and a Plan C, D, E… to get the A’s the new stadium they need instead of being seemingly content with the status quo. But when the status quo is an operating income of $27M+, 5th highest in all of MLB, even while playing in a facility where feces literally floods their employees, I guess I’m not surprised at the lack of urgency.

  13. Sort of too bad it didn’t happen going into the All-Star break. It would be fresh ammo to shit at Selig when he holds his annual All-Star press conference.

  14. I’d like to know how directly MLB will be playing a role in extension negotiations? This has to kill a lot of the momentum that the JPA had in getting better terms because the A’s now can demand infrastructure upgrades and probably assurances that this won’t happen again. Perhaps an early-out if this does happen again. The Old Lady is really showing her age. Its a 50,000 capacity facility that can’t handle 36,000 people using toilets, if thats not a sign that this place is inadequate I don’t know what is.

    What has the Baseball Oakland response been to this?

  15. @JH510 well I think the point is that Wolff/etal have determined that the financing they would get for an SJ park would it make it much more likely to get paid off in a timely manner and that the $27+ in profit they see would not be enough to both build a new park in Oakland and maintain a competitive team. So that is your answer.

  16. re: Any chance this prompts the A’s current owners to reopen dialog with Oakland officials about actually pursuing a stadium within their MLB territory?

    …Why don’t you ask Bud’s Blue Ribbon Committee, which was formed 4+ years ago to explore ballpark opportunities in the A’s current territory and has nothing to report?

  17. Reopen dialogue with Oakland officials? A serious question – does anyone really think that Jean Quan can get anything done with a stadium?
    The other thing that pisses me off – the Raiders have a new dressing facility as part of that 1995 renovation debacle? Way to treat the tenants that DIDN’T leave for 14 years. And way to not use Mt. Davis for the upcoming season. Now the locker rooms are finally smelling like the A’s have been treated for a long time now.

  18. Two things:

    1. It’s a really bad move on the part of Coliseum officials to blame this incident to the size of the crowds over this home stand. Paraphrase: “Oh, Too many people showed up and broke the plumbing.” Of all the ways they could’ve responded, they chose to say that? Absolutely horrible.

    2. The E. Coli(seum). You’re welcome.

  19. re: What has the Baseball Oakland response been to this?

    Basically, throw more behind the “build in Oakland!” mantra and either criticize Wolff further or RT others who do.

    Business as usual.

  20. Tim Kawakami ‏@timkawakami
    I think they’d draw very well in SJ. RT @DonnyMillerJr I don’t believe the A’s will ever draw in San Jose. Thoughts?

  21. Frankly I’m hoping this becomes a regular chronic problem, maybe even catastrophic problem, that forces the A’s out of the Coliseum after this season. I don’t care if they end up having to share Raley Field with the Rivercats, Pac Bell with the Giants or play in an erector set stadium anywhere else in the Bay Area (like that football/soccer stadium up in Vancouver a few years ago). If it forces the issue and forces Selig to finally man up and make a decision I’m all for rivers of shit burying the Coliseum since Selig seems to be unable to so do on his own.

  22. I’ll just repeat, its frustrating that the A’s current owners haven’t been able to make progress towards building the A’s a new stadium. If I remember correctly, Wolff & Fisher took ownership in 2005, at which point it was already painfully obvious the A’s needed a new facility. Here we sit in 2013 and the A’s are still in the outdated Coliseum. For the last four years their “Plan A” hasn’t worked, regardless of who is to blame, and the A’s haven’t broken ground on a new stadium. Maybe they should stop being content collecting revenue-sharing checks and blaming MLB for “no answer” as reason to not do anything on behalf of their team. If they’re not capable, maybe its time for a new ownership group to get a chance to accomplish something the current owners apparently aren’t able to. But as we all know, the team isn’t and never will be for sale, and the A’s will be stuck playing in shit.

  23. @JH510 – The operating income is more a function of running the team lean than anything else. All Wolff has to do is green light a payroll bump to $85 million and all that “profit” evaporates. The team isn’t making that money on their own, it’s a handout.

    And really, for good and ill the players at the table are Wolff/Fisher, Oakland/Alameda County, Selig/The Lodge, and the Giants. Continuously talking about new ownership or leadership isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.

  24. JH510:

    The issue is less about all that and more about whether or not a new ballpark is really viable anywhere in Oakland. There’s nothing I’ve seen that tells me there is.

    Coliseum City is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy that will probably never happen because there’s no money for it. Just tearing down the Coliseum and rebuilding on the same site does nothing long-term unless the surrounding area is completely redone, which (to its credit) the CC plan would probably do if it ever happened.

    Howard Terminal is out.

    Victory Court is out.

    That proposed site over the freeway in West Oakland is out.

    What does that leave? And how would new ownership somehow solve the existing issues? Is it a hope that new ownership will decide to go for CC and fund the majority of it, or what?

    Bud Selig dragging his feet on making a decision on San Jose is not Lew Wolff’s fault. Wolff’s no PR expert and has ended up with egg on his face more than once throughout all this (and yes, building in San Jose means more money for him, but that’s how business works), but there’s no guarantee an ownership change makes this any better when it’s up to Selig.

  25. @ML: got it, thanks for the clarification. Agreed that the team is being run in a certain way which results in those numbers. I guess I was just pointing to the fact that the team made $27M last year, and that possibly being a reason there hasn’t been more urgency on the stadium front. If they lost $27M last year, maybe things would be different.

  26. If the A’s had to play a season in Sacramento, it’d be more distructive to the fan base than to the forces holding the A’s back. Even if if the A’s were fast-tracked to San Jose, it would be a very sour note to start off a new era. The JPA needs to act now, improve the Coliseum for the team and the fans so that it’s adequate until a proper new ballpark is ready. In my eyes, the only two non-disasterous options are stiucking it through at the Coliseum or sharing AT&T Park.

  27. It’s really too bad this didn’t happen six days earlier when the Yankees were in town and still had games to play.

  28. @ML: and on the ownership front, definitely a fair point. I fully admit thats more venting than anything. Certain areas are more accessible for action from the grassroots level, and those are ongoing, but forcing owners to sell isn’t one of them, so my only outlet for that is some bitching and moaning.

  29. @jh510- since the return of the Raiders in 1995 A’s owners have been saying we need a new ballpark. 18 years later the city of Oakland has yet to do the easy part which is to identify a viable site and complete an EIR- not to mention a way to pay for it- so help me out- why is this LW’s fault? SJ is light years ahead of what Oakland has done in 18 years and if it wasn’t for the gints/bs a new ballpark would already be open.

  30. Not sure why you think a temporary foray to Sac would be any more “destructive” to the existing fan base than moving to San Jose will ultimately be. Half of the existing fan base would be gone in either case. And it wouldn’t add a sour note to the new park opening in San Jose as that will be a fresh start completely unrelated to either the Coliseum or Raley Field regardless of which stadium they ultimately move to SJ from.

  31. JH, Kevin is far too trusting of the BS the JPA is putting out about it being the crowd that caused the backup. And frankly I think he underestimates how much this will be used by the A’s in their push for a new park. I would not be surprised if “raw sewage” becomes a rallying cry.

  32. games cancelled because of sh$t ? oh man, it would make headlines across the world.

  33. I have to LOL anytime Quan and the oakland crowd start chirping.

    Where are the money? I want to see at least 500mil deposit in the back first . The final cost will be 1B plus . Forget about a viable site for now, flash the cash.

  34. daniel, my thoughts too. It really is a shame it didn’t happen in the middle of a series, or during the Yankees series. But who knows, maybe we’ll get lucky and it’ll happen a few more times during the year, and during football season for good measure. If the major players in this fiasco won’t tear the Coliseum down, maybe the old girl can do us one last favor and start tearing herself down one pile of crap at a time.

  35. Yankees? It would’ve been hilarious to see this happen during the Bay Bridge Series.

  36. @Dan – Do you have a source that shows half the fan base would be gone with a move to San Jose? I’m talking about season ticket holder zip codes, or some kind of density map of homes for attending fans?

  37. It’s only going to get worse if they just patch the sh!t up. All the pipes in the Coliseum will need to be replaced not just the affected areas. Time to shut down the old girl at the end of the Raider’s season. If I was the A’s or Raiders management I would not re-new the lease at the O Sh!t.com stadium.

  38. Remember when MLB was going to move Cubs playoff games to Saint Louis, Comiskey or Milwaukee unless lights were installed at Wrigley? Wonder what kind of pressure might be exerted here? If Oakland’s only plan for new facilities development is to hope the teams are forced to build on their own dime in Oakland, perhaps MLB will be taking a huge step and relocating the A’s somewhere else (San Antonio, Vegas, Sacto, etc) as soon as next season.

  39. @jh510

    Let’s keep it real. Me u and others would love for Walter hass type owner to build us a new ballpark but that is not how business works….I’m a realist pro Oakland and either we public fund our portion for coliseum city or have our guy Don Knauus to help private fund it on our behalf. Spread the word to other Oakland supporters

  40. Knauss hasn’t been heard from in quite some time. Did he ever have Clorox offer to match the Cisco naming rights deal? Uh, no. Knauss was involved in a publicly funded ballpark project in Houston – in Oakland, there is no public funding.

  41. btw, if the players somehow get hurt because some concrete somewhere drop on their heads, …too dramatic I guess . Sh$t can happen when you least expect it.

    Seriously, you need to get some structure engineers to go check the place. If the bay bridge can crumble, anything can.

  42. LS, no I don’t. I base that more on what I see from fans in person and on the net. A portion of the A’s fanbase, be it half, quarter, and eight, just some guys in the bleechers, won’t be coming with the A’s to San Jose. Is that sad, I guess. Are they replaceable, absolutely. Just like the Giants lost some fans when they moved out of Candlestick, and then gained a ton of new fans in their new park, the A’s will have the same happen.

    That said the implication was made that moving to Sac temporarily to escape the shit now flowing in Oakland would somehow damage the A’s fanbase. Frankly I don’t see how it would overall. Sure some of what the A’s have left for fans in Oakland would be pissed and would stop following the team, but the A’s would pick up some new fans in Sac during their temporary stay as well. And then when the final move was made to San Jose they’d still pick up the big influx of fans (ala the Giants when they moved into Pac Bell) regardless if they’re moving into San Jose from Sac or straight from Oakland. And conversely any fans they’d lose by moving temporarily to Sac would probably be the same fans who will abandon the team if they move to San Jose anyway.

  43. First off, Sacramento is not big enough to host the team all year long, even with expansions to Raley Field and an imagination that figures out how traffic would flow.

    If the A’s have to find a place to play temporarily but can’t do it next to the Quakes stadium, they’ll find a place in the East Bay, perhaps even Fremont. As MarineLayer has said, the environmental requirements are reduced for temporary facilities so it should be easier to push it through.

    Obviously, if your goal is San Jose, then a temporary stadium there would be the best to start gathering the people who wouldn’t go to Oakland to replace the ones who won’t attend because it isn’t in Oakland. Second choice would be as close as you can, which is Fremont.

    To address Sacramento with regards to the fan base, yes, I think Sacramento would damage the fanbase simply because it’s too far away for the current attendees to consistently visit, and further away from where you hope to build an even bigger fan base. Sacramento A’s fans would love it, but they are used to smaller crowds, lower ticket prices, etc. Not sure they’d come out in droves for 81 games.

  44. Finally, the Bay Area media could no longer continue to cover up for the Giants the truth about the terrible inadequacies of an aging Coliseum. It had to get embarrassingly bad about the conditions at the Coliseum, for all Bay Area residents to finally hear the truth on what could even now raise health concerns for fans attending future A’s and Raider games at the Coliseum.
    If I were Selig and the Giants, they now know that problems do not usually go away by themselves. If anything, the problem eventually gets more exposed and eventually the s*it hits the fan, no pun intended. The Giants still have a golden opportunity to bring goodwill to sports fans throughout the Bay Area, by giving the green light for the A’s to move to San Jose. At the same time, the A’s could show their appreciation for the Giants’ blessing by becoming temporary tenants at AT&T Park, at least until the new A’s ballpark in San Jose will be ready for baseball.

  45. @Briggs–would have been hilarious if this had happened during the Bay Bridge series and the games had to be moved to AT&T because of all of the shit

  46. Update 10:45 AMBob Nightengale has a choice quote from Wolff and reiterates a story from February.

    The A’s, of course, have tried to bolt town for the last five years. The San Francisco Giants won’t share their territory and permit the Athletics to move to San Jose. Major League Baseball, which hoped the A’s and Giants would somehow reach an agreement on their own, finally got a resolution from their blue ribbon committee. The committee submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the requirements, a move could soon be underway.

    Wolff won’t talk about the guidelines. Neither will the Giants. Or even Major League Baseball.

    Well, since the NSA isn’t sharing any of Wolff’s telephone conversations with Commissioner Bud Selig, it’s fair to say that if Wolff agreed to the parameters, he’d have a shovel in his hand today digging into the San Jose soil.

    Wolff denied the February report in last week’s radio interview. Clearly something isn’t meshing here. The two short-term decisions at the moment are the lease and the S4SJ lawsuit. It would make sense to wait to announce something until both of those issues are resolved.

  47. “The committee submitted a set of guidelines to Wolff in February, and if he agreed to meet the requirements, a move could soon be underway.”

    I thought those paragraphs, and that line specifically, were odd as well… Columnist jumping to conclusions? And again, what are the requirements? The only things that have really changed are the Giants’ public stance and Wolff trying to negotiate a lease extension.

  48. Top 10 funny lines I’ve read around the internet after the Coliseum sewage debacle:

    -”E.coliseum”
    -”We weren’t expecting that much shit in the clubhouse til the Cubs series next month.”
    -”Shitty way to end a homestand.”
    -”Commitment to Excrement”
    -”I know the A’s have had Colon problems in the past but this is just Reddickulous.”
    -”I thought shit was only an issue at the Coliseum when the Raiders were playing.”
    -”Until a permanent fix is in place, Bartolo Colon will be limited to 4 pounds of meat per meal during homestands.”
    -”Al Davis’ spirit is haunting the plumbing. He’s still interfering with operations.”
    -”And this is why I picked Oakland to finish #2.”
    -and the best one ML already posted thanks to Brad Pitt, “There are rich teams, there are poor teams, then there’s 50 feet of crap, the there’s us.”

  49. if O.Co doesn’t want to sponsor the Coliseum anymore, I see opportunities for Drano, Liquid Plumber, Roto Rooter, Charmin toilet paper…

  50. The answer? More trough urinals.

  51. Three quarters of the owners render whatever the Giants and Selig think moot. The A’s would be in SJ. Heck, they could vote Selig out of office and put another team in New York.

  52. Yesterday was another embarrassment for MLB under Bud’s watch. Perhaps it’s time for Bud to direct the Giants to negotiate a deal to let the A’s into San Jose or sell the team to someone who will?

  53. @ML

    ml, half a year ago, you had an updated post on Coliseum City Design….. In the picture it had the New proposed Warriors stadium across the street by the airport off hegenberger. Well ML doesn’t that meet the criteria for a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. It’s not Howard terminal but it is close to the water and at the doorstep of the airport.

    Has the blue ribbon commitee said no to that particular spot, or has ot yet to be looked at???

  54. Buster Olney had a good line today that I totally agree with…

    “The stalemate involved in the Athletics’ efforts to move to San Jose has continued, and what’s crazy about it is that eventually, it’s going to happen. At some point, either some owner or some politician is going to break out the baseball version of a legal broadsword, because the Oakland franchise is rotting and San Jose wants a team that the Giants … say they can’t have”

    Wolff needs to stop being Mr. nice guy. It’s not working. Time to be an Al Davis style dick. For all of Davis’ faults, he almost always got what he wanted until he got senile.

  55. I do have an idea for Oakland/East Bay leaders. I understand public funding has never really been popular here, but if Oakland can find a creative way to establish a new tax that is fair for everyone then the A’s will get a new stadium in Oakland a reality.

    What do my pro Oaklanders think????

  56. Aaron, good luck with that. To raise the 500+ million dollars you need the tax would have to be extensive. And you’re just not going to get support for something like that from the general public. The majority of the population of any Bay Area city be it SF, Oakland, San Jose, is not going to support their tax dollars going to corporate sports welfare.

  57. Taxes for sports facilities when Oakland needs the money for more cops, schools, and pretty much everything else? Not likely…Oakland got into major pro sports by building multipurpose facilities in the 1960s at 1960s prices. Now, the time has come to replace these facilities but the price tag (about $2 billion for two stadiums and an arena) is far, far beyond anything doable in Oakland these days.

  58. Josh Burkett (jb0ne83) nails it on Twitter:

    “One thing I am sure of about the Coliseum’s recent sewage issues is that local municipalities shouldn’t own pro sports venues. Dodger Stadium and Fenway Park are privately owned. That’s the reason they are in better shape than O.co.”

  59. Fully agree with Burkett. It’s one of the things that worries me about some of the newer parks like PETCO Park which while great parks and part a public/private partnership right now will revert to public ownership in 20-30 years. The public has a terrible track record of maintaining ballparks. And teams that inhabit public parks have a terrible record of helping to maintain them as well since they don’t own them (ie: like what Wolff is saying in the wake of this sewage flood).

  60. It’s the classic landlord/tenant dispute. Tenant will say, “I don’t own the house. I’m just a renter. It’s the landlord’s job to pay for repairs and upkeep.”

    And the tenant would be correct when you take it beyond generally expected things like not leaving a mess around.

    Like ML wrote, “[T]he plumbing in the clubhouses continues to deteriorate and requires constant repairs, which the A’s usually end up paying for during the season. Per the team’s lease, they can deduct the cost of the repairs against their annual rent payment.”

    That’s one option, and it’s the sort of emergency thing that needs doing when these kinds of things happen.

    However, it’s a band-aid over the sort of injury that needs stitches or full replacement. I don’t think the A’s are in a position where they can or should be responsible for getting that part done, especially since they had no say in the situation they were left in when the Coliseum was made better in some ways for the Raiders while the A’s (and the visiting clubs) have been left as a distant afterthought.

  61. @ James V.

    “Commitment to excrement”

  62. We can be sure the East Bay and Frisco “No way A’s to San Jose under any circumstances” columnists will slam Wolff for this mess, but I wonder if national comedians such as Jay Leno will join in on the fun? Have some laughs at Selig’s expense? We can only hope….

  63. just wondering if the players and union can refuse to play there because of unsafe conditions? this can cause serious injuries to the players and fans.

  64. “We can be sure the East Bay and Frisco “No way A’s to San Jose under any circumstances” columnists will slam Wolff for this mess”

    Damon Bruce basically did that just now on 1050. Then went on to say how ownership is absent on the important issues and the need to work harder with city officials to make it work in Oakland. It would be nice if media types with audiences large enough to shape public opinion would do a little more homework on the issue and rant against Oakland’s recent (last 20 years) resume when it comes to its treatment of the Athletics. But I guess if that were to ever happen it would have happened already.

  65. re: “Make it work in Oakland” What’s Oakland offering besides a slab of land in the Coliseum parking lot? Well, nothing.

  66. Lew and Billy are already downplaying the impact of this and trying to pass it off as an everyday occurrence that doesn’t impact them much. I just don’t get that mentality. If ever there was a time to raise a stink it’s now. This pussified attitude they both have is getting old. If they really want a new park it’s time to fight for it. I don’t get what they gain by being so damn passive anymore.

  67. @Dan. Dang, man. You are a grump. Could it be possible Lew Wolff and Billy Beane know something we don’t? Hmmmm, Dan?

  68. Dan: what they gain is Selig not telling them to fuck off while completely taking San Jose off the table.

    It’s true that this is an ongoing thing in one form or another, and it’s true that, like Wolff said, even if Selig said tomorrow “you can build,” everyone still has to deal with the existing situation in the meantime.

    By now if people think pounding on Selig’s door is going to make him answer any faster, they’re fooling themselves. It’s been tried and he hasn’t done a thing. It sucks, but it’s more likely the A’s will get what they need by playing nice in public.

  69. Briggs, After 15 years I’m tired of waiting. And after 7 years I’d hope Wolff is too. Selig makes decisions at a glacial pace but even for him this is getting absurd. Does the Coliseum have to kill somebody before he’ll act?

  70. James, who has pounded on his door? Reed? That wasn’t pounding. If SJ filed suit while the A’s simultaneously just moved to San Jose (ironically Al Davis style) I’d love to see Selig’s reaction. I’d love to see Wolff and SJ dare him to put baseball’s treasured ATE at stake in a protracted lawsuit. We already know he doesn’t have the cajones to deal with it.

  71. Dan: people in general. Fans who have demanded an answer, especially. Media has asked and we should be well aware of his “well you’re not getting a fucking answer” response.

    Other than that, I see the bile by an idiot like Rich Lieberman and it makes me happy I don’t share his POV.

  72. Relative to lawsuits- talk about moving at a glacial pace- when did S4SJ file- 3 years ago and just now moving forward- I agree with those who feel something is near completion on SJ- now is not the time to be rattling sabers but rather bringing closure to the existing lawsuit and settling where to play for the next 5 years

    • Update 2:30 PM – Amazingly, Lew Wolff is pulling his punches, at least according to a new Carl Steward article.

      “What it says basically is that it’s a deteriorating facility,” he said. “I think everybody is aware of that, even the people who run it. We’re sort of all in this together, so it isn’t something I would use … we just have to solve it right now.”

      Wolff downplayed that this might be the kind of incident that would give him extra ammunition to force the hand of Major League Baseball to act on the A’s situation, which has been stalled for several years under a panel appointed by Selig to assess the team’s options.

      “Even if they said tomorrow, `OK, you can have a new stadium,’ we can’t do it in one day,” Wolff said. “We’re still going to have a plumbing issue.’”

      Of course, Wolff isn’t going to stop the M’s, other teams, MLBPA, or WUA (umpires) from filing their own complaints. Those may have more bite. On the other hand, Billy Beane’s comments were a little more pointed.

      “Today this is national news, but it happens here all the time,” Beane said. “Our employees are impacted by this. I was the first to see the manager’s office (Sunday), but we see it all the time, and this is not unusual. I don’t blame them (the Mariners) for reacting, but we have to live with it on a semi-regular basis.

      “If we say anything, we’re told we’re being opportunist,” Beane added. “I wish these were working conditions we didn’t have to work with. When it affects somebody other than us, it becomes a story. I’m used to it. I deal with it.”

      Doesn’t get more Oakland than that.

  73. Well Billy, no one is going to think you’re opportunist anymore. Your “stadium” is falling apart and quickly becoming a dangerous disgrace to not only you, but your players, your family, your owner and your team’s fans.

  74. Dan, let’s not overdramatize this. It’s an ongoing plumbing issue. At no point has there been anything like falling pieces of the stadium to really put people in danger. The place isn’t literally crumbling to bits.

    It will at some point, but as far as average fan safety is concerned the place is fine, health issues from the sewage notwithstanding.

  75. James, hate to break it to you but an e.coli or similar outbreak from a food stand due to backed up sewage into a stadium that already is one of the least sanitary in baseball according to multiple reports can be just as deadly as a hunk of concrete falling into the stands.

    There’s nothing overly dramatic about that. Even Wolff seems to agree, “The place indeed has become a genuine health hazard, Wolff concedes, not just an inconvenience.”

  76. Dan, then let’s stick to that instead of the stadium is “falling apart.”

  77. James, it IS falling apart. Why do you think it’s having chronic sewage problems? Stadiums in good working order don’t have regular backups of shit and foulness into clubhouses, showers, kitchens, etc… Falling apart doesn’t exclusively mean the concrete is crumbling.

  78. @james: so you want to wait til some concrete drop on heads?

    they better get some structural engineers in there quick. Check the place out before some serious injuries happen

  79. Could you all imagine if this debacle had happened when the Giants had been the visitors? Hilarious and karmic justice!!!

  80. I think there is a literal vs figurative problem here.

  81. A’s Fan: You don’t think the Giants owners are loving this? Now, the Coliseum is not just an empty football stadium, it’s a decaying, empty football stadium filled with health hazards. Will any of this help the A’s sell tickets or attract free agents?

  82. @Dan and Pjk

    Well i felt that would be a great idea. Well why the hell is Oakland promoting Coliseum city, when no owner wants to private invest there. Island could have saved that 3 mil on the study….hey pjk can ur city San Jose adopt the Raiders???

  83. standfor: I’ve suggested years ago that if the Raiders end up in Santa Clara – something that has to be a much greater possibility today than yesterday, given the weekend’s developments – that the Raiders might end up calling themselves the San Jose Raiders. Think the NFL wants to be associated with the decaying Coliseum structure anymore than MLB? No, it does not. The NFL could strongly, um, encourage the Raiders to go to Santa Clara instead of remaining in the rotting Coliseum, with its baseball infield all over the football field.

  84. MLB press release, via Eric Fisher (EricFisherSBJ on Twitter)

    “Sunday’s unfortunate incident is a stark illustration that they need a long-term solution. This industry has a long record of navigating challenging circumstances and finding solutions. We remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached so that the A’s can secure the 21st century venue the franchise…deserves.”

    And:

    ‘MLB adds Oakland stadium saga “particularly complicated, evident through the years of work it has required.”‘

  85. At the new stadium in San Jose, the playing field would have to be below grade (to be able to fit all the stadium elements below the height limited by the nearby airport). This would also lead other facilities to be subterranean (where is the clubhouse going to be ? Also: what about the entrance to the parking garage in the Park Ave underpass that sometimes floods ??). Of course everything including the sewage pump would be new but still this could eventually lead to similar issues; maintenance is key.

    From what I read in Wolff’s quote: when something finally breaks the team can fix it and bill the Coliseum (by deducting it from the rent). But that does not cover preventative maintenance, e.g. of the sewer pumps …

    • @erw – As you know, below grade is a lot different from below sea level. The site has around a 90 foot elevation. The team would have to install sump pumps to regulate everything. The cost of that would have to be weighed against building more vertically. The former is likely cheaper.

  86. it would probably take a vengeful act of fate like posey or pandaval contracting e. coli or worse from wading in raw sewage next time the giants visit for baer et al to see the light…

  87. “We remain hopeful that a resolution can be reached so that the A’s can secure the 21st century venue the franchise…deserves”

    Well, at least we can say the stadium issue will be resolved within the 21st century, unless it will be the 22nd century and we are going for a retro-21st century ballpark.

  88. ‘MLB adds Oakland stadium saga “particularly complicated, evident through the years of work it has required.”‘

    They conveniently leave out that the complications are of their (MLB’s) own making.

  89. “particularly complicated” = Bud is too much of a coward to move on this.

  90. @pjk and dan

    Mayor Quan said that she will call of the dogs if Lew Wolff would reconsideand build in Oakland…I think Lew should do just that. The coliseum offers the least expensive way to build a ballpark…what do u say San jose????

  91. Quan can’t do sh$t so stop running her mouth. Hopefully, she can do some good for the citizen of Oaktown.

  92. Quan’s got nothing to offer.

  93. Aaron, since Quan’s dogs have been pretty toothless and quiet of late I fail to see why anyone would care if they are “called off” or not. As for looking at Oakland AGAIN, why bother. The economics of Oakland haven’t changed much in the 5 years since Wolff last considered sites in the city and Oakland’s commitment to their own stadium plans at Howard Terminal, Victory Ct, Coliseum City remain as tenuous as ever. Wolff would still have to build privately and it’s still a losing proposition for anyone building privately in Oakland without substantial city assistance that isn’t going to be forthcoming. I mean these people can’t even pay for simple maintenance on the stadium they have.

  94. Pingback: The Coliseum Filled with Shit Yesterday, and I’m Not Talking About the M’s Bullpen | The Clown Show

  95. Finally checking in after a long drive to SoCal. Are some actually arguing for Wolff to work it out in Oakland? Sounds like the Coli isnt the only thing filled with feces..

  96. There’s always going to be folks who believe either that Oakland is as financially feasible for a privately funded ballpark in San Jose, or that owners should be willing to lose hundreds of millions of dollars building in Oakland since they are rich, anyway. None of that is going to change.

  97. I will always love Oakland with or without sports…chin up town, let’s just ride out the 2013 season with the A’s in Oakland and get this world series championship….Go Raiders and Go warrior’s too

    Funny post on saveoaklandsports.com , they have a blog posted for people to vote no on the Sf Warrior site. I mean they say it will hurt the bay area and view. Cmon Oakland, we had many years to get the Warriors a downtown arena and we never stepped up ……Howard Terminal would be great for basketball then baseball and if we get a second chance I would propose that site.

  98. Howard Terminal – the massive railroad obstructions and toxic waste might have been a good site. But those problems are there, piling on many more millions to the cost. Howard Terminal = Nonstarter

  99. I’d like to know when the MLBPA starts getting involved. If this happens so frequently and is this substandard, I’m sure there’s got to be health violations and CBA violations galore in all of this. They’ve got a vested interest in all of this too. Instead of looking to Wolff wrt to their anti-trust suit, perhaps SJ should contact the players union instead.

  100. @ erw – A substantial chunk of the Shark Tank is below-level – including team dressing rooms – but they haven’t had a documented plumbing problem in the almost 20 years that building’s been open. The only time there’s been an issue is when there’s been a flood on the Guadalupe River like in 1995.

  101. Sierra, that’s because SJ maintains their venue. The Shark Tank is still in tip top shape.

  102. @Dan – you guys love to cherry pick what’s going well in SJ. This website loves to do top posts when Oak pols, retire, quit or leave. I wasn’t shocked when the SJ Police Chief and now the SJ Fire Chief, both left for greener pastures and there wasn’t a peep around these parts. The SJ Fire chief, actually left for Las Vegas, for 50 grand less than his SJ salary (somehow that’s newsworthy). SJ can keep the SAP plumbing from backing up, but your Mayor Reed, can’t seem to do much else without savaged in the local press!

  103. @David,
    News flash! There was a shit flood at the coliseum on Sunday (they happen all the time apparently) and Oakland isn’t and can’t do shit for the A’s on the new ballpark front! Stay on topic if you dare and discuss that! Go A’s and Go San Jose!!

  104. Mayor Reed savaged in the press? I’ve never heard of politicians savaged in the press before. Must be a new one. At least he’s never had TV crews showing up at his house like Jean Quan, whose eyesore property was so overgrown with vegetation it looked like no gardening or trimming had been done in years. And that’s who you trust to get a $500 mill ballpark in Oakland?

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