Hypothetical: Could a ballpark fit where the arena sits now?

One of the questions I’ve been fielding over the last few years, especially now that the Warriors are trying to move to San Francisco, is Can a ballpark fit in the space occupied by the arena? The idea is that if the Raiders could somehow find a way to stay in Oakland at a rebuilt (new on the existing site, not renovated) Coliseum, the arena could be torn down to make way for a ballpark. In doing so, none of the capacious parking would be affected except during the construction phases.

The short answer to this is: No. If I’m being generous, I’ll say barely

To understand why, you need to look at the way the complex was laid out in the first place. Remember the old sewer interceptor? It runs in an easement through the Coliseum complex, splitting the stadium and the arena. EBMUD, which maintains the interceptor, needs to have 24/7 access to the interceptor for maintenance.

CC-easements

EBMUD’s sewer interceptor is the green line that separates the stadium from the arena

Combine that with the power lines and other utilities that run through the complex, and suddenly the choices for siting the venues were reduced. If the interceptor had not been there, or had been rerouted around the edge of the complex, the venues probably might have been placed in line with 880, allowing for more of a buffer around both instead of pushing the arena up against the freeway. Such an arrangement would’ve been better for fans going to the arena from the then-years-from-completion BART station, since they would’ve had a more direct route there instead of always having to walk around the stadium.

Nevertheless, here we are. The arena is situated within its own 8 acre parcel in the complex. The fit is tight thanks to the multi-lane 66th Avenue off-ramp.

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Ideally there should be a minimum of 600 feet in either direction

Last month I suggested the HomeBase site, which has 50 feet more width than the arena site yet is also less than 600 feet wide. This is obviously narrower. A tight fit equates to two specific limitations. First, there’s little flexibility in terms of orienting the field. If the A’s wanted to orient the field the same way as the existing field, they would need:

400 feet (home plate to center) + 50 feet (backstop) + 110 feet (lower deck) + 40 feet (concourse) + 30 feet (concessions and restrooms) + 60 feet (staging and infrastructure) + 50 feet (street side buffer) = 740 feet. For reference, the diameter of the Coliseum from the club entrance behind the plate to the back wall of Mt. Davis is 100 feet longer.

To further illustrate the squeeze, let’s drop everyone’s favorite ballpark, PNC Park, where the arena is. I’ll include the approximate location of the sewer interceptor so you can see the problem.

Yellow line represents sewer interceptor

Yellow line represents sewer interceptor easement

The resulting dimension down the right field line would be around 275 feet. Talk about a short porch.

Compromises could be made to make the fit better, like reducing the size of seating decks, concourses, and buffer areas, all of which would negatively affect fan experience. The field orientation could also be rotated 15 degrees north (counter-clockwise), opening up space down the RF line while reducing space in the opposite corner.

Of course, we can’t discuss this option without considering the circumstances and ramifications. Should the Warriors leave by the summer of 2018, there would still be nearly $60 million of debt remaining on the arena. It’s likely the City and County will have to swallow the debt while the A’s paid for a will construction costs, perhaps including demolition of the arena. Combine that demolition and site prep time with a two-year build, and the A’s would be in a new ballpark there by the start of the 2021 season. If the Raiders were also staying, Mark Davis could get his stadium on the current site, also by the 2021 NFL season. Where the Raiders would play during the construction period is anyone’s guess. Same goes for the remaining Coliseum debt.

Back to the ongoing Coliseum City saga. Chris Dobbins of the JPA and Save Oakland Sports announced that the public is welcome to attend Floyd Kephart’s presentation at Lungomare on Tuesday morning (unclear on the time of the event).

lungomare

I’m interested to see if any activists showed up.

Oakland, the non-entity

They didn’t come, they didn’t see, and they didn’t conquer.

That was Oakland’s vibe at the NFL owners meetings. St. Louis made its stadium presentation previously, while San Diego did theirs yesterday and Carson made their preso today. It’s even possible that, unless Oakland pulls a rabbit out of its hat, it may not be invited to make a presentation in October either.

One of the many versions of Coliseum City that didn't solidify into a proposal

One of the many versions of Coliseum City that didn’t solidify into a proposal

Look, the bad news was known weeks before this week’s meetings. Oakland was not invited to make a presentation in front of the owners in suburban Chicago this week, because, to put it mildly, the NFL didn’t believe Oakland had a presentation to make. Here’s how you know how bad it is – in April Mayor Libby Schaaf hired one-time planning director Claudia Cappio to be the new assistant city administrator in charge of development. Among other responsibilities, Cappio became the de facto spokesperson for the project. That’s never a good sign, because when the City puts out a staffer and not a single Oakland politician wants to lay claim to the project, you know it’s in bad shape. What happened to Fred Blackwell? Remember him? Is he no longer consulting for the project? Oh that’s right, he left for a private sector gig. Blackwell clearly saw the writing on the wall.

The most damning statement came from NFL point man-cum-hatchet man Eric Grubman, who said this about Oakland’s situation:

‘The Oakland Raiders have great fans in Oakland city and the county of Oakland and a lot broader territory, but the facts on the ground are that there’s been no viable proposal that’s been made to the Raiders,’ Grubman said. ‘We’ve said one thing consistently to any of the markets that have been engaged in trying to put forth a proposal and it really rests on a couple of pillars. One of them is that a proposal has to be specific. The second is that it has to be attractive to a team and the third is it has to be actionable.

‘What actionable means is it can’t just be an idea to the extent that there is enabling legislation or enabling financing activities or there are litigation threats or anything of that nature, anything that needs to be assembled in a time frame where a club can act on it. Thus far, those sorts of tests have not been made in Oakland so as of yet, there is no proposal for the Raiders to consider.’

The irony of this is if the words above were uttered by Lew Wolff he would be ripped in column after column by the usual lazy critics. Wolff’s statements about Oakland in the past have largely had a similar tone and verbiage. But since Grubman doesn’t represent a specific team, and is in fact an arbiter of sorts for the NFL, these words will be met with little debate by potential critics, and mostly resigned disappointment by others. Yet look at that second paragraph. It is on par with Wolff saying that people can’t just point to a site and hope it into becoming viable. It needs to pencil out. And for three years and counting, Oakland has not made Coliseum City pencil out, not to any appreciable degree.

Thing is, I agree to some extent with what Oakland’s doing. It tried, it found out that the NFL wasn’t interested in a complex developer-finance scheme, it looked for alternatives and found nothing but resistance. All that’s left is to give up or wait for the NFL to kill Oakland. The former provides some (though not much) political cover for pols regarding constituents who want to see the City move on from Coliseum City. The latter provides cover when facing Raiders fans. In the meantime Oakland can finish the process, since it won’t hurt to do so with 10 or 40 days left in the ENA. Two months until the next meetings is not enough to rally the resources to make Coliseum City or an alternative happen, especially if Mark Davis isn’t committed to the effort.

There also has to be some detached bemusement coming from Rob Manfred and the Lodge. Unless Manfred worked out some sort of wink-nudge deal with Oakland, Manfred has to be wondering what kind of effort and political will he can expect out of Oakland for a ballpark. Observers have been poking holes in Coliseum City for years, and Oakland has done little to prove them wrong. Consider that the main accomplishment at Coliseum City was the passage of a planning-oriented EIR. That’s a procedural step, not a truly major milestone. Manfred will certainly play nice with Oakland once a ballpark process begins, but if he doesn’t like what he hears, don’t be surprised if he turns the heat up on the City and even Wolff. Manfred’s previous job was to get the best deals out of everyone MLB worked with, from cities to media outlets.

For now, desperate Raiders fans are left to criticize other cities’ stadium proposals in hopes that their success or failure will “trap” the Raiders in Oakland. It’s hard to come up with a concept more absurd than that. The NFL wants results, and if Oakland can’t provide them, the league is not going to sympathize. It will move on.

The 49ers’ grass problem could be solved with restraint

A year ago, the 49ers got the cherry on top of their football stadium sundae, a highly sought-after LEED Gold certification. LEED Gold had never been designated upon a sports venue previously, so with that Levi’s Stadium was considered the environmental belle of the ball, as far as venues go.

Since then, much attention has been paid to the wonderful green roof, the plethora of solar panels, the wise use of gray water – all the buzz words you frequently read about when a building is touted for its environmental bonafides. Yet all of that has been overshadowed by the one thing that everyone sees on TV, the damaged and dangerous grass surface.

After a couple of sod changes, including a change in the type of Bermuda strain, blame was placed squarely on the gravel-sand subsurface used to get the grass to take root. Anyone who has laid out sod in the yard with their dad knows the typical issues: make sure the dirt isn’t rocky or full of clay. Water regularly and at the right times. Grass is not easy to grow, and even harder to maintain. You’d think the grass – just for the sake of the 49ers’ health – would be of paramount importance. But in ownership’s never-ending search for high profile non-football events, the grass has practically become a barrier to revenue generation.

The easy move, of course, would be to switch to artificial turf. It’s plastic and rubber, is a ton easier to maintain than grass, and is easily removed for concerts and other events. The 49ers already installed turf on the fringes of the field, where carts and other equipment are likely to travel. The field remains grass for now, and the fight to keep the grass in place will be fierce, as this is California, where fake turf is anathema (Cal’s Memorial Stadium being a notable exception).

Replenishing and regenerating grass is not exactly the most green of procedures. Besides the grass that is trucked in every spring for initial installation, a completely separate field is maintained at a Central Valley facility, for use when the stadium field is inevitably damaged. Roll upon roll of the replacement stuff is used to repair parts of the stadium field before giving way to a wholesale replacement. The damaged grass is trucked back to Livingston, where it is rehabilitated. And so there’s this constant cycling of grass throughout the football season. The Coliseum goes through its own version of this, with grass planted before the baseball season, the baseball outfield replaced shortly after the second Raiders’ preseason game, and the entire football field usually once more in November. That’s a reasonable schedule, especially compared to the frequent shuttling the 49ers have to do.

At some point the process will become untenable, maybe not for economic reasons, but for environmental reasons. The drought is the biggest player here. More than a dozen fires rage around the state, so it seems incredibly insensitive to use so much water and gas on a single two-acre grass field that is properly utilized fewer than 20 times per year. The Ravens and Patriots both had trouble maintaining grass, switching to turf early on in their respective stadia’s tenures. Unfortunately, turf is plenty of its own issues. It’s not an ideal surface for soccer. There are still concerns about injuries, though bad grass is arguably much worse. Now there are issues with athletes accidentally inhaling the crumb rubber “dirt” under the plastic turf blades, as those tiny pieces tend to go airborne on hard cuts on the surface. A class action lawsuit was filed this year, alleging that the rubber has carcinogens. Considering that much of that rubber comes from old tires, there may be an argument there. Maybe not. Either way it merits study. Plus artificial turf fields tend to run hotter than grass fields during the summer thanks to the rubber’s tendency to insulate.

What do you do, then, when trying to choose between thirsty but preferable grass and lower-maintenance but less desirable turf? Easy. Hold fewer events. It’s okay, 49ers. You won’t go broke. The grass will be allowed to flourish. If you’re going to run a dome-like schedule, give up on the grass. It’s not fair to the players or the grass to do otherwise.

Coliseum renovation for baseball?

Lew Wolff was profiled in the current edition of Athletics magazine. It amounted to a short biography, with some time at the end devoted to how Wolff sees the A’s future. Much attention has been paid to the following passage:

We continue to respect the desire of the Raiders for a new football-only venue, while we of course would like to play in a new or vastly improved baseball-only venue.

New or vastly improved? Wolff referred to a renovated Coliseum recently, perhaps only in passing. This sounds like a renovated Coliseum is a real option. But is it?

When most A’s fans think about a rebuilt Coliseum, what they think about most is the old Coliseum, pre-Mount Davis. Knock down the concrete eyesore in the outfield, bring back the bleachers and ice plant, fix up some stuff in the old Coliseum and the A’s are set. Which would be true – if this was 25 years ago. We’re in 2015, and the bar has been raised. Removing the football seats isn’t going to bring in casual fans, the attendees that come to Oakland so inconsistently and infrequently. In California, renovation works on old theaters, where wood and accents connote charm and warmth. A hulking stadium once known as the Oakland Mausoleum has no warmth. It would still lack a purpose-built ballpark’s intimacy. And for Oakland and Alameda County, they’d be stuck with $100 million in remaining debt and nothing to show for it. There is a bright side, however. If the A’s took over the Coliseum after the Raiders left, the A’s could claim and repurpose the Raiders’ locker room, eliminating the legacy clubhouse’s plumbing and sewage issues for good. City and County would still be stuck with the debt, but at least they wouldn’t have to pay the Raiders’ ongoing operating subsidy at the Coliseum, worth $7 million a year.

Cost of return to early 90’s Coliseum: $150 million ($50 million in improvements, $100 million in outstanding debt)

Another option could be to repurpose Mt. Davis and replace much of the old stadium, since Mt. Davis is the newest part of the Coliseum. I posted such a concept six years ago to little fanfare, which is exactly what I expected. It’s exactly the compromise plan that you might think it is.

newlook-enlarged-1024x928

It’s sort of the Two-Face of ballparks. The top level of Mt. Davis would be removed, seats replaced on the lower and club levels, plus remodeling of the concourses and suites. New seating decks would be built behind a relocated home plate and first base line. The mezzanine and club levels of the old Coliseum would remain since they fill needs: a restaurant in the outfield and additional seats. The new scoreboards could be assembled into one extremely wide (36′ high x 290′ wide) or large (72′ x 145′) display. No additional major infrastructure other than a revamped field drainage system would be needed. Of course, some issues regarding the sight lines from Mt. Davis would have to be resolved, partly by rearranging the lower bowl and adding new seating options.

Cost of repurposed Mt. Davis-based baseball stadium: $350 million for the A’s, including $100 million Coliseum debt.

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A new, bespoke ballpark on the Coliseum grounds is the preferred option for A’s fans and MLB. Is it for Wolff and Fisher? Sure, as long as it pencils out. The idea that Wolff pitched last year was that there was a way to privately finance a ballpark while also addressing the debt by taking it out of the public’s hands. Unfortunately that concept has been hit with two huge doses of reality.

Issue #1 is that it’ll be hard to service the debt of the new stadium and the old stadium using all private sources. Right now Mt. Davis costs low eight figures to service, but imagine if that debt wasn’t serviced by relatively stable sources like taxes, instead paid by stadium revenues. Financing costs would balloon, making an already expensive project even more expensive. That’s why I found it curious that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf seems resigned to having the public sector pay off the debt. To go that route would be significant reversal, as one of the goals of Coliseum City was to find ways to wipe away the albatross.

That leads to Issue #2. The sale of the (public) Coliseum land could turn into a political third rail thanks to protests by East Oakland and housing activists. Wolff, like many other developers, is finding that the economics aren’t quite right for a market value project at the Coliseum, where the higher prices are needed to subsidize other project components like the stadium. Even if the pricing worked out, the same aforementioned activists would raise hell over potential gentrification. When the Coliseum City process started, there was an acknowledgement that the various public and private partners would have bargaining chips to play. Slowly, each of those chips is being taken away. We’ll soon be down to the basics: building a stadium privately, with no help.

If a new A’s ballpark can stay reasonably priced, there are ways for it to be financed by Wolff. Like the Giants, there will be some annual set aside for debt service that impacts payroll. Lean years could become extremely lean thanks to the mortgage. The A’s could work a deal with MLB to ensure that they stay on the list of revenue sharing recipients in the next CBA. It would be a reasonable request given the A’s being pigeonholed into Oakland.

Regardless of the difficulty, a new ballpark has to be what MLB and Rob Manfred want for the A’s and Oakland. The old compromises don’t die. They evolve and transform. That’s the new reality.

Make. Them. Pay.

When HBO announced its own fake news show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver I felt great about Oliver, who did exemplary work at The Daily Show. I also felt rather hesitant at the show’s format: a 30-minute show on Sunday night featuring the previous week’s news. It didn’t take much time for Oliver to prove the format a winner. Instead of the rat-a-tat nature of TDS, The Colbert Report, and other late night shows, Oliver was given the freedom of devoting a lengthy segment every week to a single topic. Those segments, usually ending each episode, have providing cutting and often educational rants on a broad range of topics, from FIFA corruption to race relations to an interview with Edward Snowden. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that this week’s topic was near and dear to my heart: stadium development in America.

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Oliver starts and ends the segment with references to soaring locker room speeches. I took the liberty of transcribing his own speech at the end. As you watch the end, read the speech.

For the rest of you I want you to look deep down inside your hearts. I want you dig in there and I want you to find something. And it’s gonna seem tiny but it’s the most powerful thing in the world. And it’s the word “No.” No.

So when a billionaire asks you to buy him a hologram machine that doesn’t exist yet, what are you gonna say?

NO.

That’s right! And when they ask you to build a stadium with public money without opening their books, what are you gonna say to them?

NO!

That’s right! And when they ask you if they can keep all the money for calling their arena “Smoothie King Center” what are you gonna say to them?!?!

NO!!!!!

FUCK NO that’s right ‘cause that’s a stupid name for anything, even a smoothie store!

‘Cause I want you all to get out there. And the next time a team comes around asking for a new stadium I want you to MAKE THEM PAY. What are you gonna do?!?!

MAKE THEM PAY!!

WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO!!!

MAKE THEM PAY!!!!

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO!!!!!

MAKE THEM PAY!!!!!

CLEAR EYES! FULL HEARTS!

CAN’T LOSE!!!

LET’S GO DO THIS!!!!!!

crowd ends in a MAKE THEM PAY! MAKE THEM PAY! chant.

Already my week is made.

Damage Control

Floyd Kephart spent much of the week trying to rescue the badly damaged image of Coliseum City by giving interviews on three radio shows, while also assailing Matthew Artz, the BANG reporter who got access to part of the proposal given to Oakland/Alameda County. It was all flailing and little substance for Kephart, who until the PR disaster had mostly kept his message under control.

Kephart appeared first on Fred Roggin’s show in LA, then with Scott & BR on a podcast for the Mighty 1090 in San Diego, and finally with Damon Bruce on The Game.

Among the notes I gathered from Kephart’s interviews:

  • None of the money from the public land sale will pay off the existing Coliseum debt. If that’s the case, what is paying off the debt?
  • Some of the stadium debt would be repaid from project taxes. We know that different kinds of taxes would be used for infrastructure, though that was for a much larger project. Somehow the infrastructure would be downsized, yet the project would still have 4,000 housing units, a hotel, and large commercial square footage. How does that work?
  • Kephart believes that the proposal excerpt was leaked to kill the deal. Probably true, especially if others would rather start moving forward with an A’s deal. Though in all honesty isn’t the leak simply accelerating the process?
  • When pressed, Kephart refused to talk about buying a 20% stake in the Raiders, citing the confidentiality agreement. Smart on his part, since he’ll have to continue to work with the private equity groups he needs to provide that confidentiality. Everyone else, from municipalities to sports interests, can be thrown under the bus.
  • The point of buying the 20% stake was that private equity was not going to make money on investing directly in the stadium, so having a stake in the team was the only way to get access to the stadium’s (really the team’s) net revenue. In the same breath, Kephart said that New City doesn’t have a “burning desire” to buy into the Raiders.
  • According to Kephart and a number of Raider fans, 81 baseball games can’t possibly compare to 10 football games.

The pretzel logic used to argue that the NFL would be preferred is mindbogglingly awful. Sure, the NFL is the highest profile sport with the greatest cachet – at least in the US. It has bigger ratings and bigger national media coverage. Those factors, however, have absolutely nothing to do with bottom line arguments. The City and County are looking for the option(s) that provide the greatest economic impact. There is no way that hosting the NFL can provide this, with the possible exception of hosting the Super Bowl every year. We know that’s not going to happen, since the Raiders stadium will be too small, Levi’s Stadium already exists as host stadium in the Bay Area, and LA will have its own West Coast option soon.

Not including playoff games, the Raiders will bring in 550,000 per season (55k x 10 games). In a new ballpark, the A’s are projected to get around 2.2 million in attendance per season, 4x the football total. The important thing to remember is that the revenue streams (tickets, concessions, parking) will by-and-large remain with the team. The City and County are set up to recognize very little of gameday revenue. What, then, are football stadium backers relying upon to boost revenue? Out-of-towners. Fans of the Raiders and visiting teams will fly into Oakland, rent cars at OAK, stay at Oakland hotels, eat at Oakland restaurants. Sounds like a reasonable claim. What economic impact does that make?

The NBTA did a 2009 study on the top 50 cities in the US and tax impacts from visitors. It was focused on business travelers, but the basic tenets are the same. The study calculated hotel and car rental taxes, along with sales taxes from meals in each target city. Care was taken to separate downtown (center city) locations from airport locations, since they can have different dynamics.

visitor-taxes

Each city is ranked based on combined taxes, which mostly range from $25-35 per day. Bay Area cities are in the middle of the pack statistically. Oakland comes out at $32.45 per visitor, per day. Now let’s take those 550,000 football fans, and let’s estimate that 10% of them are from out of town and fly in, stay for a night, and eat locally.

55,000 fans x $35 per day (adjusting for inflation) = $19,250,000 per year

55,000 fans x $35 per day (adjusting for inflation) = $1,925,000 per year

Less than $20 $2 million in economic impact? That’s good, but remember that the ongoing debt and operating subsidy for the Coliseum and Raiders is $22 million per year. How is less than $2 million per year supposed to work, especially if the debt isn’t being addressed?

(Ed. – Commenter Victor pointed out my bad math. Corrected it’s even an even worse deal.)

Kephart wondered aloud why so many people had problems with the deal as proposed, claiming that it worked for everyone. If the Raiders are paying the full freight on the stadium and the City/County aren’t getting the old debt addressed, it’s not working for anyone except New City. Frankly, he shouldn’t be surprised at the cold reception.

P.S. – Now let’s apply the same economic impact to baseball. Far fewer tourists visit ballparks except during the summer, so it stands to reason that a smaller percentage of attendance could be attributed to baseball fans from out of town. If only 2.5% of fans, or 600-700 per game, fit that tourist description, that’s still 56,250 total visitors, more than the football tally. And while that football total is maxed out, the ballpark still has headroom of 500,000 or more fans per year, which means more tourists. Plus there are 2 million locals and casual fans to boost economic activity per baseball season, compared to 500k football fans.

 

Coliseum City Proposal revealed and it sucks

Try as Floyd Kephart and the City of Oakland tried to keep the Coliseum City proposal away from the public for 20 days, the key summary was revealed by BANG’s Matthew Artz late last night. As you might gather from the action to hide the documents from the public under a confidentiality arrangement, there was plenty to hide and precious little to tout. Kephart’s New City did get the documents to Oakland/Alameda County by the June 21 deadline, which is to be commended (somewhat). Beyond that, the whole thing sucks for a multitude of reasons.

Kephart’s New City Development pitched a $4.2 billion plan, which would include:

  • $900 million Raiders stadium to be owned by team, land underneath to be leased by City to team for $250k per season
  • Sale of public lands (Coliseum and surrounding) to New City for $116 million
  • Proceeds would pay off Mount Davis debt
  • Potential for additional proceeds to fund affordable housing subsidy; if not fully covered, bond issue
  • Land reserved for an A’s ballpark through 2019
  • 4,000 housing units
  • 450,000 square feet of retail, 1.5 million square feet of office/R&D space
  • 400-room hotel
  • $100 million in new infrastructure (BART transit hub, roads), not including…
  • $187 million in parking garages (financed by New City)
  • Stadium and essential infrastructure completed by 2019, hotel by 2020, full buildout by 2022
  • Sale of 20% stake in Raiders to New City for $200 million, half of which goes to into stadium
  • Creation of “Stadium Company” to finance $300 million in debt for stadium (49ers have a similar entity)
  • $500 million from the Raiders and NFL G-4 fund (combined)

The football stadium part of the plan has no magic bullet to cover the $400-500 million funding gap. The NFL and Raiders would their part, probably closer to $400 million. There remains an open question about how likely it is the Raiders would get that $400 million. It’s one thing to award the full $200 million G-4 loan (to be matched by the team) to the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium or the Vikings and Falcons, teams whose projects will certainly host future Super Bowls. The Raiders stadium would be smaller and less capable of hosting a Super Bowl and other big events. Its premium revenue-generating capacity would be much lower than other recently built stadia, which makes me wonder just how well the G-4 loan would be serviced. Chances are that the stadium would qualify for a smaller loan, perhaps closer to the old G-3 cap of $150 million. So when you really start to add it up, it’s much more realistic to expect $350-400 million as the “standard” private contribution from team and league. More than that is rather wishful thinking considering the stadium’s size and scope.

A “Stadium Company” would be created on the private side to manage funneling game revenues towards debt service. Its counterpart would be the Coliseum Authority (JPA) or its successor. If the sides ever got down to real negotiations, the real sticking point would be whether the debt would be issued publicly (tax free) or privately (taxed). On one page the Raiders are said to own the stadium, on another they lease the stadium. The model is similar to what the 49ers created for Levi’s, which means that the same questions would arise during the period leading up to the stadium’s opening. Can the Raiders and the various entities sell enough sponsorships and get a big enough naming rights deal to cover the gap? Or does this sound too much like Mount Davis?

Ancillary development, which has been already been dismissed by Mark Davis and NFL point man Eric Grubman, is still very much in play here. The worst part about it is that the money the ancillary development will generate won’t go towards paying for the stadium, or for affordable housing. New City would get to reap the rewards, pay a little towards infrastructure, not get saddled with the responsibility of financing affordable housing, and get a piece of the Raiders in the process. Sweet deal, eh? No wonder the NFL has been so averse to having “middle men” like Kephart involved in these deals. It prefers to have Goldman Sachs and big banks there as the established partner financing arms instead of deal makers.

The ballpark gets one whole line in the 19-page document:

Parcel 6 for development of the ballpark will be reserved through January 1, 2019.

In the Specific Plan Parcel 6 is to the right on the other side of 880 from the Coliseum

In the Specific Plan Parcel 6 is to the right on the other side of 880 from the Coliseum

I can’t blame Kephart for reducing the A’s to one line considering how Wolff disregarded him and the project at every turn. If Kephart’s gonna go out, he’ll go out guns-a-blazing. Wolff was never going to take part anyway, so this is at least a modest allowance. Yet what is Parcel 6? We’ll find out more in a couple weeks assuming the documents are released as expected. For now we don’t have an updated site plan. If Parcel 6 is the same one identified in the EIR/Specific Plan, it’s the Hegenberger Gateway shopping center anchored by Walmart and other properties along Hegenberger. How does that get repurposed for a ballpark? I’ll let you know when BART builds an Airport Connector station there to service the site, more than a mile away from the Coliseum BART station.

Lastly, there’s the sale of public land. The document cites $116 million as fair market value, though that is entirely dependent on use and density. $116 million is ridiculously cheap, at around $1 million per acre depending on how much is actually used for the ancillary development. Lew Wolff’s Coliseum North plan was derailed because he lowballed local business owners, offering the same value ten years ago. Two weeks ago the City of Oakland pushed through a $5.1 million sale of one acre on East 12th Street overlooking Lake Merritt for housing, with the developer agreeing to provide $8 million towards affordable housing elsewhere. City Council sessions got so heated that housing activists took over the Council Chambers in the first meeting, followed by the City blocking off public access in subsequent meetings. All that because the process was supposed to dictate that the sale of public land in Oakland mandated use for affordable housing (if housing was the intended use). Now we’re looking at an exponentially larger project in the Coliseum area. How’s that gonna go over?

With the stench this deal is serving up miles away from any actual deliberation over its merits, recent revelations about an exit strategy and a backup plan for City/County should come as no surprise. That’s both good and bad, as the millions spent on Coliseum City will have gone to waste while that backup plan will have only a few months to gestate. That’s a great recipe for a terrible deal, one even worse than New City’s vision Coliseum City. There’s always a renovation concept to fall back upon, and Wolff’s biding his time waiting for CC to collapse. Looks like you’ll be on the clock soon, Lew.