City and County set new targets for Coliseum City ENA

Update 3/19 1:20 PM – Oakland’s City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Friday, March 20 at 11:30 AM to vote on a resolution supporting the ENA. You can find the agenda at the meeting link. In addition to the deadlines set forth in yesterday’s news, there’s also an option to extend the agreement for up to six months if some of the deliverables aren’t met or other holdups. There’s also this:

competing

Nothing about the “alternative proposals” shows up in the resolution, however. Once the City and County both approve the ENA including this facet, the A’s (and Raiders for that matter) could start sending in their own concepts. I expect one at some point from the A’s, but as noted previously, they are under no deadlines to deliver anything as New City and the Raiders are.

Original post:

Yes, we wrote two months ago about how the City of Oakland and Alameda County were coming together to work on Coliseum City. The signs were that both parties were finally on the same page.

Well, we’re hearing the same thing again, though this time it might actually be for real. After some back and forth between the County and Floyd Kephart of New City, the County’s Board of Supervisors are looking to vote on the ENA at the end of this week. Or early next week. Or something. The SF Business Times’ Ron Leuty has the details.

Besides the ever plodding deal machinations, Leuty also picked up the new terms of the ENA. June 21 marks a midterm deadline for New City to provide certain deliverables. The “final” deadline is August 21, with even more deliverables. All told it’s 23 separate items, all important, few minor.

June 21st’s set is all about creating the framework of the deal. It should answer basic questions like How many teams will be involved? and How long will it take to develop?

  • An initial financing plan for a new stadium for the Raiders, including ancillary development and land and infrastructure to support a potential new stadium for the Oakland Athletics. It will include projected sources and types of funding as well as the estimated equity stake from New City, its partners and affiliates.
  • Terms and conditions required to win a commitment from the Raiders, A’s or the Golden State Warriors to Coliseum City. This will include an update on the status of negotiations between New City and each team.
  • Initial site plans for new Raiders and/or A’s stadiums.
  • Financial and market feasibility analyses for various elements of the development other than sports facilities.
  • A development schedule for the sports facilities and ancillary development, including the timing of entitlements for all phases of the project.
  • An estimate of infrastructure cost and a funding plan for the infrastructure, including a list of potential regional, state and federal grant sources.
  • Plans for tax financing districts for infrastructure.
  • A preliminary plan for subdividing parcels, if needed.
  • Proposals for addressing the existing Coliseum debt.
  • Proposed timetables for disposing of land for various parts of the project.
  • An outline contracting plan.
  • An outline community benefits plan for the project.

August 21 is about buttoning up the deal and figuring out all of the little details defined in June.

  • A detailed description of the plan for project development.
  • Refined terms and conditions required to win a commitment from the Raiders and/or A’s and a project schedule for obtaining a commitment.
  • A refined financing plan for Raiders and/or A’s stadiums, including identification of all sources of financing.
  • A refined description of the financing structure for ancillary development and the proposed developers for each element of those pieces of the development.
  • A clearer schedule for development of the stadiums and the ancillary development, including the timing of entitlements.
  • A better estimate of infrastructure cost and a funding plan for the infrastructure.
  • A refined proposal for establishing tax financing districts for financing infrastructure.
  • A clearer plan for subdividing parcels.
  • A refined proposal addressing existing Coliseum debt.
  • Proposed terms for the lease disposition and development agreement and financing for various elements of the project.
  • A refined contracting plan and community benefits plan.

By late April we should expect that the EIR will be certified and the Specific Plan approved, which are their own framework in that it defines zoning. With that zoning component there are no entitlements on which developers can build at the Coliseum.

To date many of the deadlines put forth by the City have been about timing in concert with some important date for the Raiders and the NFL. Previously the ENA was supposed to be completed before the 2014 season over, then before the franchise relocation window opened, then 90 days from that (April). Now the ENA deadline is being pushed to just before the 2015 NFL regular season starts. That itself is arbitrary, and allows for yet another 3-5 months of slack before the Raiders have to make a decision on LA or another possible move. With that in mind, I fully expect Coliseum City to slip yet again past August. The list of deliverables above is daunting. The DDA alone can take months to put together. While everyone’s operating from the notion that once a team signs on everything else will fall into place, there’s little reason to believe that negotiations will be that tidy. This project has a growing number of stakeholders, including housing and jobs activists who will make their stamp on a community benefits agreement. The financing for a project of this size is incredibly complex. And the City and County have to be on their toes to ensure that they don’t get taken by the private stakeholders in the project: New City, developers, and the team(s). Without clear terms done in thoughtful, deliberate manner, you get Mt. Davis.

I haven’t mentioned the A’s or Lew Wolff yet. Wolff has made his position clear in that he has no interest in Coliseum City. The difference for him is that he and the A’s have no deadlines, arbitrary or otherwise. What happened to the idea of allowing competing bids? That appears to have disappeared into the ether. For now.

Miley says the R-word

You’d think someone actually reads this blog.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley wrote an op-ed in the Trib on Monday, imploring the City and County to consider multiple avenues towards getting the Coliseum complex in the best position to retain the Raiders and A’s. One of the avenues Miley pushes is retrofit. Or renovation.

Yes, renovation. Now let’s be clear on the idea’s prospects. For baseball it’s a nonstarter because of the foul territory, sightlines, and numerous other reasons, so you can stop dreaming about a Bash Brothers-era Coliseum as a possibility. Instead, Miley wants to renovate the stadium for the Raiders, which would leave land available for the A’s to build a new ballpark. The rationale, Miley notes, is that the funding gap that looms over the project would be significantly reduced if a less costly renovation project were undertaken instead of a whole new stadium whose price tag approaches $900 million – for only 56,000 seats. Renovation would cost around $500 million, a figure I’ve touted here and there. The Raiders and the NFL apparently have no interest in renovation, but in some cases they have signed off on improvements projects like Soldier Field, Lambeau Field, Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, and most recently Sun Life Stadium in Miami – all cases in which the market was hostile towards subsidizing a new stadium.

I have advocated for this solution for years, mostly because the Coliseum works best going forward as a football venue. Mt. Davis may be ugly as sin, but its bones are good and it would require only a relative handful of improvements to get it up to 2016 status. For instance:

  1. Remove the upper nine rows of the lower deck, east side. Open the concourse, add in bars with views of the field and drink rails.
  2. In some locations, install “living room-style” loges along the concourse.
  3. Remove a couple rows to provide better views from the wheelchair areas.
  4. Redo the club seating sections to create two small tiers. Club would be glassed in and provide views.
  5. Remove the entire upper deck, transform it into a party deck.
  6. Modernize the first two levels of suites with new technology.
  7. Transform the upper (third) suite level into another club and party suites.
  8. Freshen up all concourses and other public areas.

You’d end up with around 10,000 seats on the east side including 60 suites and 3,000 club seats. That leaves another 45,000 seats, 20-40 suites, and around 2,000 additional club seats (inclusive of total capacity) to account for. Getting to a $500 million project is doable, as long as you aren’t trying to pile on the square footage. Keep most of the structure fairly basic and concentrate on keeping the amenities in a single, focused area.

Early stages of construction at the Coliseum in 1965

Early stages of construction at the Coliseum in 1965

See how there are man made hills in the picture above? There’s no square footage in those hills, no electrical, plumbing, or HVAC. That’s how stadia were kept relatively cheap. New stadia are all about building out as much of the venue as possible, so much that modern football stadia have twice as much square footage as their predecessors. Mark Davis has said on multiple occasions that he doesn’t need a stadium as fancy as Levi’s or AT&T Stadium, so he should be obliged.

Two-deck bowl built adjacent to existing east stand

Two-deck bowl built adjacent to existing east stand

As the east side gets a makeover, the original bowl is torn down. The old berm is reshaped for the new lower seating bowl at the end zones. The west sideline has space underneath the lower bowl for locker rooms, maintenance, and storage. That leads to the new seating.

  • Lower 3/4 deck: 21,500 seats
  • Upper 3/4 deck: 20,500 seats
  • Field or mezzanine club: 1,500 seats
  • 40 suites: 500 seats
  • Standing room: 1,000 spaces

The key to this layout is that there’s only one concourse in the new bowl. That’s a bit of a nod to Levi’s, where the lower concourse is vast. The second deck is not really cantilevered over the first deck. Behind the second deck is a two-level suite and press addition. Total capacity is 55,000 seats and could have 4,000 more seats by adding 6 rows to the upper deck.

Stanford Stadium and the Citrus Bowl used similar approaches, and while those builds weren’t as complicated as this, the same principles apply. Done aggressively, this shouldn’t take more than 18-24 months to complete. Obviously there would be questions about where the Raiders would play temporarily and the A’s displacement, but those are for another post. Want a renovation? Here’s an example, if Mark Davis is actually interested in a solution.

LA’s downtown stadium dream dies while STL’s gets a boost

When I went to the Stadia Expo in the summer of 2012, I walked by the large Gensler booth. In it was this:

gensler-farmersfield

Now it belongs in the dustbin of great, failed stadium concepts. When AEG unveiled the concept in 2011 it seemed it was getting all its ducks in a row. It had a naming rights sponsor in Farmers Insurance, a cooperative government in terms of process if not money, an EIR completed, and legislation to help bypass CEQA litigation. AEG appeared to be in the pole position for a future NFL stadium in LA.

They were missing the most important component of a new stadium: a team to call that stadium home. Not for lack of trying. They had reached out to every possible relocation candidate. The problem was their terms. AEG wanted, at least at the outset, a large ownership stake and control of the franchise as well. Owners as well as the NFL balked at such demands, and let AEG hang out to dry while they formulated their own relocation plans independently. Frustrated by the lack of action on the LA front, AEG head Phil Anschutz allowed his company to pursue buyers in hopes of a multi-billion dollar cashout. He also let Farmers Field champion Tim Leiweke go, giving the project no real internal support in addition to its lack of external (NFL) support. The final blows came in a quick combo as Stan Kroenke partnered with Inglewood interests on their own domed NFL stadium, followed by the Chargers and Raiders partnering on an outdoor stadium plan in Carson. Today AEG announced that it was giving up on Farmers Field and moving on with its Plan B, an expansion of the LA Convention Center (which it operates) that includes no stadium component.

AEG went from stalking horse to legitimate contender to non-entity in the span of four years. That’s the stadium game for you.

The State of Missouri’s Department of Economic Development released a study claiming that a new stadium for the Rams would return upwards of $9.6 million per year to the state’s coffers. The study isn’t available on the MoDED website yet, so I haven’t been able to scrutinize it. I tend to be skeptical of such claims, but I’ll wait to comment until I see the study. The public contribution for the riverfront venue is $405 million of a total development cost of more than $1 billion.

The beat goes on.

Raiders could stay at Alameda HQ through Feb 2019 even if they leave Oakland next year

Update 10:00 AM from Steven Tavares:

Original post:

When the Raiders balked at paying past due rent at the Coliseum last month, we figured it had something to do with the lease extension, but we couldn’t figure out the rationale. Now, looking at the new lease terms – set to be voted on by the Coliseum JPA Friday morning – there’s little that stands out. There are clarifications on how to handle signage and advertisements inside the stadium, along with updated parking revenue definitions. The $400,000 in back rent will be paid. Then I saw this:

7.5 Additional Payments for Use of Permanent Training Facility and Training Site. If the Raiders announce a relocation or sign a lease to play football games outside of the City of Oakland or Alameda County (a) for the 2015 season prior to March 1, 2015, then, commencing on March 1, 2015, or (b) for the 2016 season prior to March 1, 2016, then, commencing on March 1 of the year following such announcement Raiders shall have the option of continuing to use the Permanent Training Facility and Training Site for up to thirty-six (36) months, up to and including February 28, 2019 as determined in Raiders’ discretion. For the first two years, Raiders shall make an additional payment to Licensor each month for continued use of the Permanent Training Facility and Training Site in an amount equal to the fair market rental value of the Permanent Training Facility and Training Site on a monthly basis, as determined by a mutually agreeable licensed commercial real estate broker based on comparable rental space. Raiders and Licensor agree that the fair market rental value shall not exceed $525,000 per year for the first two years. For the third year, Raiders shall pay Licensor an amount of One Million Fifty Thousand Dollars ($1,050,000), payable monthly in equal installments. In the event the Raiders are engaged in good faith discussions concerning an extension of the Operating License or other arrangement for the Raiders to play future Football Events in the OACC Stadium as of March 1, 2016, any obligation to make payments shall not commence while such discussions are continuing and the thirty-six (36) month period and obligation to make additional payments shall begin when Raiders agrees to play football games at a location other than OACC Stadium for the 2016 season; provided, however, that if Raiders agrees to play football at such other location, Raiders shall pay such rental payments retroactively from March 1, 2016.

Compare that to the same clause from the 2014 lease, which allowed for 24 months of training facility use and ended on February 28, 2017. Now they’ll get an extra year, giving them until early 2019 to stay. That could prove useful if the Raiders head to LA for the 2016 season, but the Carson and/or Inglewood stadium plans fall apart in the interim.

It’s a great situation for the Raiders, allowing them to stay fairly cheaply in Alameda while entertaining stadium concepts in Oakland, LA, etc. Allowing the team to be in Alameda past the 2018 effectively gives Mark Davis a three-year grace period, even if the Raiders leave Oakland starting with the 2016 season. If they stay at the Coliseum and engage in further stadium talks, rent on the facility is abated.

Can, kicked.

The grace period allows Davis to not have to look for or build a training facility in LA right away. He could continue to keep the team training in LA, fly them down for “home” games at a temporary stadium on the weekend, and fly them back up Sunday night. The stadium plan in Carson has to be modified to include a second team training facility, though chances are it wouldn’t be ready until at least spring 2018, based on what we know about the political landscape involved and construction lead times.

Let’s be clear about this: a training facility is not make-or-break item when billions of dollars of stadium speculation are the order of the day. It’s still a critical part of team operations. That’s where players will be 5 of 7 days every week during the season, and where they’ll report going back to OTAs. Now it makes more sense that the Raiders are funding improvements to the weight room and other parts of the facility, since they know they’ll be there for a few more years.

As usual, it’s Davis looking out for his team first. Maybe he’s not so different from his dad after all.

No dome? Smaller stadium? That’s a start.

BANG’s Matthew Artz continues the Raiders stadium debate with the new old revelation that the Raiders want a smaller stadium, one that would seat around 55,000.

Yes, it’s a familiar story. We’ve heard it before. Fewer seats, fewer suites, slightly less swanky club areas, all of it should contribute to a lower cost solution for the Raiders and the NFL. And finally, the City of Oakland appears to be coming around, instead of clinging to pie-in-the-sky aspects in the Coliseum City plan. At the very least, the idea of a retractable dome is fading away.

The dome made it into several city planning documents, but Mayor Libby Schaaf said last week that it was no longer under consideration, noting that it didn’t make sense to build an enclosed stadium in a city with such a good climate.

That alone should save some $200 million. Dropping 10,000 seats should also save around $200 million. A rough projection today would be $800 million. Or $978 million. Either way it’s way too expensive. If the goal is a less fancy, simpler structure, there’s little reason for the budget to approach $1 billion, even with the higher construction costs in the hot Bay Area market. I showcased two renovation projects in Florida: the recently completed $200 million Citrus Bowl project and the underway $400 Sun Life Stadium plan.

Another good example from the college ranks is the new McLane Stadium at Baylor University. A 45,000-seat venue, McLane Stadium is a pretty, three-decked, partly roofed horseshoe on the banks of the Brazos River in Waco, TX. The stadium was completed for only $266 million.

McLane Stadium facing Brazos River (image from Wikipedia)

McLane Stadium facing Brazos River (image from Wikipedia)

It’s not the cost effective record of $100 million set at Stanford for a new stadium, but it’s impressive in its own right. There are some obvious visual differences between pro and college football venues, such as the expansive use of bleacher seating in college stadia. These stadia also have smaller scoreboards, club lounges, and locker rooms than their NFL peers. McLane Stadium has a total of 860,000 square feet, less than half the space of a new NFL stadium like Levi’s, whose square footage totaled 1.8 million.

Pro football stadia have achieved such girth over the last 30-40 years through the proliferation of suites and clubs, plus greater buildouts at the field level, a place once reserved for locker rooms and plain old storage. The previous generation of stadia may have had 4-5 levels. A modern stadium may have 9 levels thanks to stacks of suites and clubs. Since all these stadia are getting taller, there needs to be more structural concrete and steel, which contributes further to exploding the cost. The end result is a more complicated structure that takes much longer to build than before.

Living in Silicon Valley, since the recession ended I’ve seen so many cranes and buildings under construction it’s dizzying. Unlike the original Valley land rush, developers and companies aren’t building simple one-story tilt-up offices. These are 6-10 story campus affairs as standard, or crazy concepts like Apple’s spaceship campus or the newly reimagined, glass-canopied Googleplex. Apple and Google are perhaps two unique examples of companies building visions that would make the NFL palaces look modest by comparison. Mall giant Westfield is undertaking a $600 million expansion of Valley Fair. Local cheap hotels and motels are frequently at capacity during the weekdays, filled up by general contractors coming from the Central Valley and Southern California. While it’s a great situation for the Bay Area economically, it also means greater competition for labor than ever before.

If Oakland and the Raiders are truly going to come up with a cheaper solution, they’ll need to follow some of the lessons realized in the college process. That means building simpler, and just as important, building faster. Instead of taking 3 years to complete a stadium, it would behoove both parties to figure out ways to cut down the construction time to 2 years or else in order to save on labor, especially union labor here in California. Employing a design-build process to streamline construction and permitting would also help immensely.

Doing all of this would require a level of coordination and competence heretofore not seen in the East Bay. While the county continues to consider the ENA, the ground beneath Coliseum City shifts. Chances are good that whatever gets built there will look nothing like the renderings provided by JRDV and sponsored by the City. That’s standard practice in urban planning, so no one should be surprised. With the clock ticking on LA, it’s probably a good idea to get moving on something everyone can agree on.

Dolphins show off $400 million renovation project

Not long after the Orange Bowl was played on New Year’s Eve, the Dolphins embarked on an ambitious, $400 million plan to rip apart about one-third of Sun Life Stadium. Dolphins President Tom Garfinkel has been regularly posting photos of the progress.

The plan is being carried out in two phases. The first takes off the upper corner sections permanently, leaving the structural raker beams behind. The lower sideline sections are also being removed, to be replaced with new sections that will eventually bring the first row 24 feet closer to the field than before. All of the seats will be replaced with bigger, all-turquoise versions. The lower deck renovation will allow the Dolphins to offer new luxury seating types between the usual club seat and suite choices. Some will be mini suites at midfield, others will be behind the end zone. Concourses are also being redone.

First phase renovations to be ready in time for 2015 NFL season

First phase renovations to be ready in time for 2015 NFL season

Second phase improvements include new scoreboards in the upper corners where the seating sections used to be, and the big reason for the project: a huge open air canopy that will cover virtually the entire seating bowl and outdoor concourses. Given the often rainy and hot weather in the first half of the NFL season, this was considered a necessary addition. The canopy is also a must for the NFL if future Super Bowls are to be held there (the last was held in 2010).

sunlife-2016-outside

Final renovations including seating canopy

Final capacity is projected slightly above 65,000, a cut of 10,000 seats. Despite the reduced seat count, the venue is better positioned to bid for the Super Bowl and the College Football Championship game, which is up for bid separately from the normal bowl rotation (the stadium already hosts the Orange Bowl).

Most importantly, this project is being financed privately, mostly through luxury seat/suite sales, not through bonds, PSLs, or other unsavory means. Stephen Ross campaigned for public funding for the better part of 2 years, threatening that the Super Bowl wouldn’t come back without yet another South Florida giveaway. He eventually gave up his quest, seeing that it would be better to get started on the project and get the Super Bowl. Finally, Miami-Dade County held firm and wasn’t ripped off the way they were by the Marlins and Heat.

In May I covered the much more modest, $200 million renovation at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl. While that project lacked much of the luxury amenities being added to Sun Life, the actual teardown and rebuild was more extensive, gutting and replacing the entire lower bowl. I wondered why the Raiders weren’t pursuing this path at the Coliseum. I can say the same now that the Dolphins are going down a similar, albeit more NFL-appropriate path. A Raiders renovation would be a sort of hybrid of the two, not as swanky as Miami nor as basic as Orlando. Over time I ballparked the cost at $500-600 million, basically the same amount as the funding gap the team and Oakland/Alameda County face at Coliseum City.

So why is no one talking about a Coliseum renovation? Maybe the image of the Coliseum is beyond repair even with a renovation. Maybe the fact that the field is 20 feet below sea level makes it a bad choice for forward-thinking CEQA guidelines about sea-level rise or storm-related flooding. Neither of those is a good excuse. If everyone involved in wanting to keep the Raiders (team, government, fans, investors) isn’t merely about playing games, there’s no reason why this kind of option wouldn’t be investigated thoroughly. It’s cost-effective, proven, and preserves the very site that so many Raiders fans hold dear.

P.S. – While we’re at it, why didn’t the 49ers incorporate some of these amenities into Levi’s Stadium? We’ve already seen these put into arenas and some stadia over the past few years.

P.P.S. – The Dolphins are applying for $50 million in sales tax revenues. A decision to provide that funding along with funding for other sports venues has been delayed by the Florida legislature. Even if that’s approved, Ross is funding $350 million of the project, a better ratio than most American stadia. At least Ross dropped the charade and got started on the project.

M&R: 30 days or bust for Raiders in Oakland

It’s a short article and a rather incendiary headline from Matier & Ross, but it’s not like we haven’t seen this coming.

‘If we don’t have significant progress within the next 30 days, I’d say one party or the other will call an end to it.’ That’s how one source close to the Raiders stadium negotiations in Oakland characterizes the on-again, off-again talks.

Okay, I guess. This doesn’t mean that Coliseum City is dead. There’s a lot of context we don’t have here. Is the anonymous source only talking about the new stadium, or does the lease extension also have something to do with it? Remember that as of now, the Raiders have nowhere to play for the 2015 season. If the only issue is the stadium discussion, that’s an awful way for the Raiders to go about things. Besides not having a place to play and no approval from the NFL to make a move, there’s little concrete evidence that the framework of a deal can be reached in 300 days, let alone 30. Maybe, as Larry Reid said, the work is 90% done. So what’s keeping the rest of the 10% from being done? The Raiders? Maybe. New City? Floyd Kephart said that the ENA runs through April. The ever-balking Alameda County? Who knows?

To me it sounds like yet another bluff. Last week’s reveal that the Raiders and Chargers are working on their own plan was characterized as a bluff by many. Scratch the surface and you’ll see that the Carson site is nearly ready to go after a great deal of cleanup, according to the State. Again, there are so many moving parts here with all the different players and deliverables that it’s hard to know what progress really is. Frankly, if this is coming from the Raiders, I’d like to see what happens if they leave the table. It’s always been up to the Raiders to make the first move. Mark Davis may actually have the courage to push that first domino. And if that happens, expect everyone else – the public sector, the A’s, the NFL and MLB – to start moving in kind. Eventually.