Coliseum City EIR Final Draft now available, JPA postpones lease extension vote, Saperstein comments

The Coliseum City EIR Final Draft was made available around lunchtime today. It’s 17 MB in size and worth looking through. As I run through it I’ll post my observations on Twitter with the hashtag #ColiseumCityEIR.

(Update: As pointed out by Floyd Kephart, the vote was over the lease. The JPA isn’t a party to the ENA, only the City and County can be among public entities.)

Over at the East Bay Express, Steven Tavares reports that the Coliseum JPA postponed a vote (again) to approve the Raiders’ lease extension. Tavares got comments from various JPA Board members, including outgoing and incoming Board Presidents Nate Miley and Larry Reid. While neither said why the postponement occurred, both indicated that certain aspects of the deal don’t look favorable to the county. Miley went on to talk about some of the Coliseum City issues we have talked about on this blog many times: hundreds of millions in infrastructure costs, the Coliseum’s outstanding debt, and the value of the land. Miley even indicated that some public contribution may be required for a Raiders stadium, which should raise some eyebrows in the East Bay.

Larry Reid characterized New City as “90% there” in terms of getting a team commitment, that team being the Raiders. Yet the Raiders’ joint announcement with the Chargers about a shared stadium in Carson took everyone by surprise. Reid still believes Mark Davis wants to keep the team in Oakland, and really, what choice does he have? The only shocker at this point would be if the JPA, City, and County kicked the Raiders to the curb after spending so much time, money, and energy on Coliseum City.

About that time, money, and energy:

Meanwhile, local officials met with NFL officials in January, said Reid. Their assessment was the city and county had made no progress in efforts to build a new stadium since a similar discussion between all the parties a year and a half ago. ‘They made it clear that the city and the county wasted the last eighteen months,’ said Reid.

Again, don’t pay attention to what people are telling you about how Coliseum City is progressing. When teams commit, when real actions happen to advance the ball, then you’ll know. As a wizard once said,


Last item today comes from a commenter on the blog named “Let’s Go Oakland,” who snipped a piece of a Facebook thread and dropped it in the comments.


Guy Saperstein is a minority partner in the A’s ownership group

Assuming this is the real Guy Saperstein speaking, it sure sounds like the ownership group is still in lockstep in their position on San Jose, despite San Jose being off limits for the foreseeable future. Saperstein has long been based out of Oakland/Piedmont. Regardless, the only group the A’s can actually make a stadium deal with at this point is the Oakland/Alameda County/JPA triumvirate. As the fog enshrouding the Raiders and Mark Davis recedes, maybe they’ll actually make a decision on their future. Hopefully it doesn’t hurt the A’s in the process. If Davis can make a deal with Kephart, there will be a Raiders stadium at the Coliseum and the A’s can slide down to San Jose. If the Raiders can’t work something out, they’ll jet to LA while the A’s work out a new ballpark deal at the Coliseum complex. Those are the two most realistic scenarios that can be sussed out at this point. Anything else is wishful thinking.


Davis wants Alameda County at the table, but…

This is not unexpected, yet strange.

If memory serves, Davis still hasn’t paid the minuscule 2014 rent at the Coliseum, all while currently making improvements to the Alameda training facility. Seems like there’s a quick way to get everyone on the same page, especially if Davis’s request is just a first step towards completing a Coliseum City deal.

More from BANG’s Matthew Artz:

Looks like Davis’s go-it-alone strategy isn’t going so swimmingly, hence the pivot back to Kephart. Plus now Ron Leuty of the SF Business Times sheds additional light on the County’s resistance to Coliseum City.

‘Currently, (Alameda County) is not at the table,’ said Floyd Kephart, the lead executive of New City Development LLC told an Oakland business group Thursday, though he planned to meet Thursday afternoon with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty.

The City’s priority is clearly to work out the future of the Coliseum area, beyond the complex. The County’s appears to be fixated on the debt issue, which, while small in the grand scheme of things ($2-3 billion in total development), is plenty large enough to trip up any plan. Few entities can afford to write off $100+ million of debt. Packaging that debt creatively is a monumental task in and of itself. If the County wants to get tough on this, it’s their right and responsibility. Because without the County, there is no deal even if an EIR gets certified. So much for everyone being on the same page.

More comments from Kephart and reaction from Haggerty via Artz:

‘Just come to the bloody table and make a reasonable and fair attempt to see if we can keep the Raiders, build a stadium and do this development,’ said Floyd Kephart, a San Diego-based businessman who is trying to finance the city’s multibillion Coliseum City project, which envisions new stadiums for both teams at the Coliseum site.

Kephart’s remarks before a meeting of the West Oakland Commerce Association, didn’t sit well with Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty who said the county was doing its due diligence. “I don’t know why people are insinuating that we are not at the table,” he said in a phone interview before a scheduled meeting with Kephart. ‘Just because you are asking questions doesn’t mean you are not at the table.’

So many moving parts. Davis wants to try his own bid, then gets back together with Kephart (how willingly is unclear). Haggerty, who is now the President of the Board of Supervisors, is taking on the role of chief inquisitor. Hey, nobody said it would be easy.

Raiders withhold Coliseum rent as leverage play vs. Oakland

Mark Davis doesn’t have a ton of cards to play against Oakland, other than the usual “I’ll take my team elsewhere” card, which has half-played by entertaining talks with LA and San Antonio. He pulled one out this week, refusing to play the $400,000 rent bill on the Coliseum for the 2014 season. We covered the lease terms in November 2013, when the last Raiders lease deal was made.

According to Matthew Artz, the Raiders are paying rent on their Alameda training facility, which makes withholding rent a rather petty move. What kinds of concessions could get from Oakland/Alameda County at this point? They’re certainly not going to sign over development rights to the Coliseum over a measly $400k. Though somehow Davis has been depicted as a “more willing partner” for Oakland than Lew Wolff, his actions say differently: meetings in LA/SA, repeatedly talking about how he’s doing his best while not creating his own plan until very recently.

It would be one thing if Davis were angling to move to LA for the 2015 season. The NFL has put the kibosh on such a move for 2015, so what reason would Davis hold out? The answer probably lies in the current lease. Besides the rent for the Coliseum and training facility, there’s also the matter of the parking revenue split between the JPA and the Raiders. At the moment that’s a 50/50 deal, with regular parking prices capped at $35 per car, per game. The opening of Levi’s Stadium has bumped the going rate to $50, so Davis may be eager to up the charge, a move that’s accounted for in the current lease. Even if that were the case, it can’t make much of a difference:

  • $15 hike * 10,000 parking spaces * 10 games = $1.5 million, split 50/50

The Raiders would net less than $750,000 after the City collects its parking tax. It’s truly a piddly amount of money for a pro football team.

If it’s something else, like a cut of concessions revenue, Davis should’ve acted before allowing Wolff to take it off the table for upcoming years. He’ll get a chance to sell ads on the new scoreboards without having to spend a dime on the project. It’s a head scratcher why Davis would do this.

Then again, maybe this is all a bluff to see how the reciprocal and related parties act. Would Oakland and Alameda County start getting ugly with Davis the same way they did with Wolff last year? Would Davis try to see what the NFL might do to back him (or not)? Davis has already said he doesn’t want to have the Raiders play in Santa Clara, and that’s the obvious local Plan B for Roger Goodell if negotiations got tense. He won’t be able to use this issue to force an LA move because that doesn’t fit into the league’s plans. If Davis is trying to score points in order to get a premier spot in LA, it’s an odd way of doing it.

I doubt that this discord will turn into anything protracted. The A’s-Oakland parking dispute turned into a $3 million issue because Wolff preferred to let it fester until the next lease negotiations, three years down the road. Davis doesn’t have time to let anything fester. The Raiders have to play somewhere in 2015, and preferably beyond. There are no indications that public officials want to to stick Davis with a locked-in multiyear lease, as they’ve been perfectly willing to go year-to-year for the time being as the larger Coliseum City deal is worked out.

Oakland, and especially the Coliseum, is a sort of economic paradox for both the Raiders and the A’s at the moment. Deals there are potentially the most frictionless, yet it can most realistically happen if one of them steps aside. Yet each team has its eye on more lucrative markets that they might consider worth the friction. If one of them “wins” Oakland, the other will get to go to the more lucrative alternative. The “winner” will have the challenge of remaking the Coliseum to benefit not only themselves, but also the City and nearby communities. Oakland as both prize and booby prize? Somehow it makes sense.

FanFest 2015

Rain has become a constant at FanFest, the Coliseum was at its muggy, leaky best. That’s probably just as well, since it motivates the players (and hopefully many fans) to head down to the desert for Spring Training. If only this rain came more frequently…

Anyway, if you’ve been to FanFest since its 2011 reboot, you know how this works. The main event is held inside the arena, which can hold thousands for the numerous Q&A sessions. The first two sessions involving player intros, Billy Beane and Bob Melvin draw a huge crowd. Unlike previous FanFests, the crowd was restricted to sitting in a third of the lower bowl. The arena’s upper level had VIP events.


Ray Fosse and Glen Kuiper telling a broadcasting anecdote about on-camera plumber’s crack

Most everything else was held in the Coliseum, especially the East Side (Mt. Davis). FanFest may well be the only event that stretches the East Side’s facilities to its limits. Concessions were open along the regular concourses, and smaller Q&A sessions were held along the lower concourse near the foul poles. An interesting backstory is that for several weeks, today’s date was held for another event, a concert at the arena. Only late in the year did the arena become available for the big sessions. If the arena wasn’t available, the big sessions would have been held in the stadium somewhere, even though there were no TVs and the scoreboard system was not available.


Panorama from back of section 117


“Baseball 101″ set up for intimate Q&A sessions, this one with David Forst

The project is underway, though the teardown of the old one isn’t complete. The fascia signage along the plaza level hasn’t been removed yet. Much of the work is being done in the press box, where the control is being retrofitted and expanded. The expansion is larger enough that the A’s have to install a server room of sorts above the press box, in some free space along the value deck. For some reason, the scoreboard project was delayed two weeks by the City of Oakland, who for some reason took some extra sweet time with the permits. Apparently no one told Permits the project was coming. #welp


State of the scoreboard project

The rain and winds threatened to wreak havoc on the whole affair, but thankfully they lightened up significantly midway through FanFest. With so many autograph lines shifted indoors to the East Side, it was much easier to move between the stadium and arena.


East Side had many of the autograph stations and fan booths


Plaza of Champions cleaned up thanks to better circulation between the two venues


Autograph line

That left one major line behind home plate, the one leading to the Clubhouse Tour. For most of the duration of the event it was quite long, so I passed. Even though I’ve been in the clubhouse many times over the years, I still like walking through there because it takes me back to Moneyball.


Line for clubhouse tour

The line died down when the marquee last Q&A session started at 3, so I rushed across to the stadium to quickly walk through the clubhouse. Why? Well, I wanted to provide a comparison between the Coliseum clubhouse and the new clubhouse at Hohokam Stadium.


Coliseum clubhouse


Hohokam clubhouse

Do you get a sense of how much bigger the Hohokam clubhouse is? It’s much wider and perhaps 50% larger.

This FanFest, I came too late for the BlogFest interview sessions, not that it matters much since I don’t write about the team much. Instead I floated between the two venues, catching up with fans along the way and making observations. A big thank you to Zak Basch for getting the credential to me after the deadline, even if I didn’t use it to its fullest.

My last tidbit is some advice a fan solicited from Coco Crisp, meant for all the new A’s this year.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

P.S. – The A’s posted on social media that FanFest attendance was 15,000 today.

Coliseum City Specific Plan Final Draft Released

The City of Oakland released the Final Draft of the Coliseum City Specific Plan last week. It’s 211 pages long, packed with information about how Coliseum City fits within Oakland’s broader planning initiatives, as well as important guidelines for future development at the Coliseum area that any project, whether it’s 120 acres or 800 acres, will have to comply with. A 216-page staff report for a February 4 Planning Commission meeting was also made available. Consider that the addendum to the Specific Plan. Note, however, that the EIR was not released. The EIR will be released around February 20. No reason was given as to why the documents are being released separately this time, as the Draft versions were made available as a two-part concurrent release in August.

I’ll recap what I consider important details.


We keep talking about infrastructure, and it’s no less important this time around. Moving those eyesore power lines stretching around the complex will cost up to $32 million (up from $16 million). Two overhead and two underground relocation options were given. The most elegant solution, which would run the power lines underground parallel to the sewer interceptor, would require the creation of an additional 75-foot easement (each line needs 15 feet of separation from the next one, there are four). Combined with the sewer interceptor, that’s 100′ x 0.6 miles of easements. The other alternatives called for relocating the power lines above ground along either the west perimeter and either keeping them above ground or running them underground near Hegenberger. While running underground next to the sewer line would be the most visually pleasing option, the loss of 5+ acres of developable land right in the heart of the complex makes me think it’s a potentially difficult sell, especially since it would cut into land set aside for the football stadium or the existing arena footprint. The finished product could be made better by putting a pedestrian-friendly boulevard and grassy median there, a new community space sort of like the Panhandle next to Golden Gate Park. Naturally, it could serve as additional parking during events. The power lines in the south parking lots would also need to be temporarily relocated to accommodate construction of the football stadium.


Infrastructure cost estimates have been revised. Area A, a.k.a Coliseum District, has a price tag over $236 million. Area B, the area immediately on the other side of the Nimitz, is estimated to cost $135 million.

Additional important line items:

  • New BART Bridge – $12.7 million
  • New and improved Transit Hub (BART platforms, Amtrak, bus) – $75 million total
  • Site/block development costs (demolition, utilities for new development) – $36 million
  • Streetcar system – $23 million
  • Bay Cut/Estuary Park (outside new arena) – $11 million

That’s $370 million, not including the revised estimates for building out Areas C, D, and E. Putting that in “120-200 acres only” terms, the cost is $236 million not including additional necessary land acquisitions.

Funding for infrastructure could come from the creation of a Community Facilities District or Infrastructure Financing District, Mello-Roos property taxes, and possible revenue from the venues themselves. Hotel and sales taxes are also being considered. Other types of districts and even general obligation bonds are in the discussion, though I would expect that such ideas won’t travel far (Chapter 7, Pages 159-166). And of course, there are various types of local, state, and federal grants that may be available – though they won’t cover anywhere near the required amount.

Speaking of Areas C, D, and E, land ownership has been a topic of interest throughout this process. A current map showing all publicly owned and privately owned parcels is on page 27. It illustrates how much of a patchwork the area is, and the challenge in finishing the project outside the core area A. A strategy to acquire the private properties has not yet been articulated. There are approximately 100 private property owners within the full project area. No indication was made that eminent domain would or should be used.



Based on a set maximum of vehicle trips within Area A, the projected amount of ancillary development is envisioned as follows:

  • 4,000 residential units
  • 408,000 square feet of retail
  • 1,500,000 square feet of R&D/commercial

If residential development were cut back, the other two categories could be increased proportionately. Depending on the total number of residential units built, some percentage (15%) is expected to be set aside as affordable housing. At this point it is unclear what kind of subsidy (public or private) would be required to support the 600-860 affordable units.


To protect against a 16-inch sea level rise (most of the area is barely above sea level), a new storm drainage and flood protection plan will have to be instituted. This could include a seawall at the Union Pacific railroad tracks. It also probably means that the fields for both outdoor venues would not be sunken as the Coliseum is. Instead they would be at grade or higher.


Here’s a surefire win:

“Sports teams should be encouraged to provide ad hoc transit between the game venues and other transit stations, in order to avoid congestion at maximum event times.”

The teams’ parking is already being compromised. Surely they’ll lap this request for team-provided shuttles right up.


Much of the rest of the Specific Plan is devoted to detailed zoning changes. I’m not going to get into that, we all know what the big picture is here: sports and mixed-use. The EIR is due in two weeks. Expect a much longer post for that, along with a lot of questions from community groups.

FanFest and BlogFest on Sunday 2/8

It’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl takes over the nation’s imagination, followed by baseball, waking from its annual hibernation. That means FanFest, which will be held on Sunday, February 8. Last year’s FanFest was also held on February 8, which was a Saturday. The Giants chose to hold their FanFest on February 7 this year, so this avoids a date conflict.

BlogFest will also be held again, starting at 10 AM. Like last year, bloggers will be taken to a suite on the East Side, where we will be interviewing:

  • David Forst
  • Jesse Chavez
  • Ike Davis

Oh, the questions for Forst will come aplenty. The blogger interviews are usually held after the regular media session. And of course, there will be the regular player interviews and introductions held inside Oracle Arena. Tickets are still available online. Since the event was restarted in 2011 it has sold out. The Coliseum will also be used again, which will give everyone an opportunity to check out the state of the scoreboard project – though the system is not expected to be fully built or operational by Sunday.

A fairly heavy storm is forecast for the weekend in the Bay Area, so the soggy FanFest day tradition should continue. Check the weather reports and plan accordingly.

If anyone wants to meet up inside the Coliseum (not the arena which will be cramped) to talk stadia and Coliseum City, let me know.

McKibben to become next JPA Executive Director, Raiders want ENA canceled?

BANG’s Matthew Artz reports that Scott McKibben will be the next Coliseum Authority Executive Director, filling a position that had been vacant for over six years. JPA counsel Deena McClain has been the JPA’s interim executive director since 2008, when Ann Haley left. Zennie Abraham notes that the vote was unanimous.

McKibben says his goal is to “keep the A’s and Raiders in Oakland.” Having someone with sports experience not limited to negotiating leases is important for the Coliseum’s future.

Andy Dolich endorsed the hire, and McKibben apparently had several recommendations, far above and beyond the previous candidate, the controversial former Assemblyman Guy Houston.

Having McKibben in place will allow the JPA to move forward in concert with the City of Oakland and Alameda County, the partners in the JPA which have been at cross purposes throughout the Coliseum City process for the last three years. If McKibben can lead a team including McClain and the City and County working on the deal terms, they’ll have a much better chance at success. It’s a much better situation than a year ago.

More interesting is a tidbit from Steven Tavares at East Bay Citizen, referring to AlCo Supervisor Scott Haggerty:

However, Haggerty made it clear Raiders ownership does not favor an extension of the ENA. Over a lengthy lunch recently with Raiders owner Mark Davis, Haggerty said, the team lobbied for the county to vote against the extension with New City. Progress is being made, though, added Haggerty.

Why would the Raiders want to kill the ENA? They wanted to provide a competing bid at the last minute, which may indicate that they already have a developer on board for whatever they’re planning. If the Raiders (like the A’s) now want little to do with Coliseum City and New City Development, it would make sense to cut the middleman out altogether, though that would open up a lot of questions about how to steer redevelopment of the Coliseum. The EIR and Specific Plan are moving forward, and the latter piece is valuable to Oakland for planning purposes. But the feasibility studies that have been done on Coliseum City to date would be lost. New applicants like the A’s and Raiders would commission their own supporting work. It’s almost moot at this point since the ENA is set to be extended again, yet from now on it’s worth questioning the value of New City’s place in all of this if both teams would rather go it alone.

If the teams would prefer to not work with the Coliseum City team, it’ll be up to McKibben and the JPA to figure out a way to bring the teams together. In all likelihood, both teams will provide competing visions with little-to-no room for each other. How the two visions can be merged to both sides’ satisfaction along as the City/County – well, that’s not like scaling Mt. Davis. It’s more like trying to climb Mt. Everest.


P.S. – Remember those shady looking campaign contributions from Lew Wolff to Rebecca Kaplan during last year’s mayoral campaign? Turns out they were legal. Oh well.

P.P.S. – The Orange County Register reports that Mark Davis teamed up with an investment firm last September in order to buy the Hollywood Park site. That attempt failed. 

P.P.P.S. – Mark Purdy has a different telling of the ENA situation.

Did Haggerty interpret the talks wrong, or is someone from the Raiders covering something up?