Category Archives: Football
If, on the other hand, you want to entertain the idea that Wolff is being forthright and sees the Coliseum as a real option, I have some ideas about that too.
But first, let’s step back to June 2012, and the Save Oakland Sports meeting I attended. As we were wrapping up, one of the SOS principals (used to be “A’s observer” in the comments) asked me, Do you think Lew Wolff would consider building in Oakland? My response was, Yes, but you have to make it worth his while. He’s trying to pay for a ballpark and make it pencil out, so if Oakland has some mechanisms to make that happen, I think he would be interested.
At the time I figured people would interpret that to mean cash or free ballpark. What I was suggesting was that if Oakland can figure out a way to bridge the gap between what makes San Jose so attractive (corporate interest) and Oakland’s limitations, there could be a solution in Oakland. Can Coliseum City bridge that gap? That’s the billion-dollar question.
Remember that when Wolff was first hired as VP of venue development, he pushed for a ballpark on the Malibu & HomeBase lots, the latter of which was not owned by the JPA. The JPA nixed Wolff’s idea and later bought the HomeBase lot for Coliseum City and the Raiders. Steve Schott preferred a ballpark – if in Oakland – to be in the north parking lot of the Coliseum. That idea was a nonstarter due to potential conflicts with the other tenant teams (Warriors, Raiders) and the area still stinging politically from the Mt. Davis debacle. When Wolff took over as managing partner, he first offered up his Coliseum North vision. The light industrial area includes the old drive-in/swap meet, the now-shuttered Columbo bakery, and several other small businesses. This concept also died quickly, as the City didn’t want to entertain the prospect of buying out businesses and the limited amounts Wolff was willing to offer to seal the deal.
Now there is Coliseum City, which could bridge the gap via third party investor funds. In effect this is a substitute for the normal public subsidy we so often see in the stadium game. The idea is to have Colony Capital and HayaH Holdings take care of some amount of the gap on their own. How much they will be willing to fund for one or more new venues will depend largely on the what forthcoming market study recommends for the project.
BayIG, the combined group of developers and capital, is supposed to have reached out to both the A’s and Warriors in attempts to get them to agree to be involved in Coliseum City. Until now both teams’ ownership groups have shown little interest in partnering with BayIG and the Raiders on Coliseum City as they’re pursuing their own venue plans in San Jose and San Francisco, respectively. However, there is a way I could see Lew Wolff showing interest in CC, especially as a potential funding mechanism.
That way occurs if Coliseum City isn’t feasible for the Raiders. Even though the Raiders are the anchor tenant, there’s a great chance that they’ll have to back out, simply because the costs of building their own stadium are prohibitive. Recently there was talk of a $400-500 million funding gap for the stadium, and with typical football-related sources potentially maxed out, it’s difficult to see how development alone would pay for a large portion. For instance:
Phase I doesn’t address any new sources of revenue to fund the project, except the possibility of selling Coliseum land (Property Transfer). Given the remaining debt on the Coliseum of $100 million (and dropping each year by 7-8%) and the cost of infrastructure, it’s likely that any proceeds from land sales would be wiped out by that combination of costs. It’s likely that BayIG and the JPA would work together to create a Community Facilities District (Mello-Roos) or Infrastructure Finance District, whose purpose is to collect various taxes to fund the project. CFDs require majority votes, whereas IFDs require two-thirds supermajority votes. In the case of the 49ers’ stadium plan, a CFD was approved by the public. Historically IFDs are tougher to put together and approve, though some legislators including State Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) have been making headway on that front. It’s not quite the new redevelopment as it’s limited to infrastructure, but it’s an important step.
Phase II provides for limited ancillary development next to the football stadium. It could raise a $1-2 million per year, depending on how money is extracted from the condo developments. Hypothetically, if each condo provided $100,000 of its sales price towards stadium construction, that’s still only $83.7 million. Chances are that asking for more than that would either make the units not salable or eat significantly into the developer’s profits.
If the Raiders stadium proves too costly, the A’s could easily slot right in with a much less expensive stadium option that has a much smaller funding gap, say $200-300 million. Plus with only one stadium there instead of two, there would be additional land to develop or reassign as needed. Wolff’s in a good position to wait and see how the market analyses work out for them and the Raiders. Numerous outcomes could be put forth:
- Coliseum City works financially for all three teams
- Coliseum City works financially for two of the three teams
- Coliseum City works financially for only the Raiders
- Coliseum City works financially for only the A’s
- Coliseum City doesn’t work financially for any team
I’m sure there are specific benchmarks for each of these outcomes, but we’ll have to wait until April to understand what those are. The Warriors component is even fuzzier than for the A’s and Raiders, since the replacement would be built in Area B of Coliseum City across I-880. To date the arena has not been part of the identified planning phases.
For now, Wolff gets to provide the most tacit support to Coliseum City, while letting the chips fall where they may. If the plan doesn’t pencil out, which I suspect he believes, he’ll have the numbers to prove himself right and to shut his critics up. If it does work out, he’ll be in a good bargaining position to ask for some piece of the pie. BayIG is being asked to get teams to sign on by no later than next summer, so we’ll see if this has legs.
Of course, the last 1,100 words are only believable if you endorse the idea that Wolff is actually considering Oakland in any way. If not, you’ve just wasted a few minutes of your time. Get back to your building your Wolff effigies and altars.
The other day Wendy Thurm asked me if there was a page of links and material related to Coliseum City that she could check out. There wasn’t, so I took some time to create one. The result is a curated, reverse chronologically-ordered list of posts, with a brief overview of the project. The link is simple enough:
There’s a new link in the sidebar as well, so you can reference it after this post disappears. Eventually I’ll do the same for other sites, but it will take awhile.
It’s been awhile. Today’s unusual joint meeting of the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors was the first such joint session in several years. It’s also been more than a couple of years since I wrote a post titled The adult conversation, which implored Oakland (and Alameda County) to start talking about what it will truly take to keep the pro sports franchises in town, and what it might mean to lose one or more of them. After watching today’s proceedings, I can say that we’ve had our first session, one of many to come.
If you were an unabashed supporter of Coliseum City, things didn’t get off on the right foot as AlCo District 5 Supervisor and Board President Keith Carson demanded to know the state of the Coliseum’s outstanding debt. Oakland City Council President Pat Kernighan tried to reel the discussion back in, but Carson insisted, and eventually he got what he wanted – a plain telling of debt for both the stadium ($113,790,000) and arena ($90,290,000) by County Auditor Pat O’Connell, who also happens to be the JPA’s auditor. That’s $200 million combined for the complex, though that figure goes down every year thanks to a $20 million annual debt and operating subsidy paid by City and County. Carson emphasized that there will be no future project if debt isn’t addressed first. The debt may prove to be a structural problem, since whatever public borrowing has to be made for infrastructure or other uses will be on top of or consolidated with the existing debt. The City and County want the teams or the private development group, BayIG, to cover that debt as part of the plan. Incidentally, Carson’s district covers Berkeley, Albany, and much of Oakland.
The debt talk lingered for 10 minutes, then Kernighan got the discussion back on the rails. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell gave an overview of the current situation, with the renewed leases for the Raiders and A’s, their desires, and the Warriors’ plans. Blackwell said that the funding gap for the Raiders stadium, which he called a “sunken cost,” was $400-500 million after the Raiders’ contribution. AlCo Supe Scott Haggerty cast doubt on the viability of the three venue configuration of Coliseum City, noting that so far only the Raiders have been willing to listen. Haggerty suggested that the most effort should be put towards the Raiders’ venue because of that reality, and that the A’s, who don’t even have a set date for their Phase III ballpark, could easily show that information to MLB and say, “we’re not even on the radar.” CM Desley Brooks, a previous JPA Board member, expressed doubt in a different way, citing the need for multi-use venues instead of single-sport venues. Brooks was also concerned that the project wouldn’t pencil out, asking for a pro forma for that configuration (and others, presumably).
Next up in the presentation were two members of Oakland’s Office of Neighborhood Investment, Larry Gallegos and Gregory Hunter. Gallegos gave more detail about the project’s phases and master plan. Due to the photocopied quality of the images, I skipped over this slide initially. Upon closer inspection, something needs to be explained further.
The top image, Phase I, shows an outdoor football stadium, some ancillary development, and outlines for the “spine” of the project and the ballpark. The next image shows a dome on top of the stadium and the spine in place. Hold the phone – is the dome part of Phase II? There’s no other mention of a dome anywhere else in the presentation, nor was it brought up during today’s session. That dome, assuming that it is part of Phase II, is no trivial matter at $300 million to construct. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has been pushing for a dome, and while the interest in holding conventions and other types of events is understandable, it seems like this rather important detail was merely snuck into the preso with no explanation whatsoever.
Discussion then centered on the phases and once again, the venue configuration. Blackwell admitted that if only the Raiders’ stadium were built, ancillary development potential may be limited as few examples of such a plan were found. The limited number of football game dates contributes to this problem. CM Rebecca Kaplan, a staunch supporter of Coliseum City, talked up the need for more density within the project as that’s where the payoff is. Of course, that brings to mind the question of whether Coliseum City is even feasible if it never goes past Phase I. In addition, how dependent is the project on Phases II and III to provide enough funding for everything? Those questions won’t be answered until the spring.
Mayor Quan repeated her usual hackneyed sports metaphor and pushed for more information. If that’s the case, why did this meeting occur because of a letter from Carson to the City of Oakland? Quan, who hastily made her remarks before heading to the airport, is supposed to be the champion of this project. Yet Kaplan is clearly the more informed, more passionate advocate. Someone desperately needs to grab this thing by the reins and control it, as it’s considerably late for all this confusion given the very tight timeline imposed on the City and County. CM Libby Schaaf was silent during the session, just hours after she filed papers to run against Quan for mayor in 2014.
Hunter talked about the goals and key elements of the project, one of which is the property transfer element. It’s unclear what that means. City has indicated in the past that it’s not willing to give away land, and may not even be interested in selling land. Unfortunately for them, the only valuable resource the JPA has at its disposal is land. Discussion of this topic was deferred to the DDA, though it will clearly become a hot topic before then.
Members of the public spoke, followed by questions and remarks by members of the City Council and Board of Supervisors. General bewilderment gave way to soapbox speeches. CM Larry Reid, already on the outs with the JPA, claimed that Quan took credit for his concept while calling Coliseum City “insane.” Supe and JPA board president Nate Miley asked if there had been an appraisal on land the JPA owns. Hunter said it wasn’t. Miley expressed frustration that developer BayIG hasn’t put down earnest money to kickstart some of these studies. Blackwell said that only recently the agreement was finalized in which BayIG (Colony Capital & HayaH Holdings) replaced Forest City as the investor group. Miley then dropped a mini bombshell when he asked if the City could buy out the County’s half of the JPA. Blackwell laughed it off, replying that the City didn’t have the resources to pull off such a move. Nevertheless, it’s quite telling that Miley could even suggest that the Coliseum is such an albatross that the County would be fine divesting its share. There’s also a situation in which the County could buy the City’s half. Judging from the across-the-board sentiments from the Supes, that seems even less likely.
- District 2 Supe Richard Valle: “Gifting of public funds to any franchise is not part of my political framework.”
- There was continued confusion over Howard Terminal. Blackwell mentioned that the Port of Oakland has to explore all possible maritime uses before moving to non-maritime uses like a ballpark. That would explain why a recent RFP for Howard Terminal makes no mention of a ballpark.
- There was no discussion about how long the teams would be displaced or where they would play if Coliseum City came to fruition.
- Blackwell mentioned that the market study, which is key to determining the project’s feasibility, would be delayed 30 days.
- I tweeted that the football stadium deal could come by the end of the 2014 NFL season, but that seems like a long ways away considering the amount of work that has to be done.
- Brooks got in a shot when she said that leverage had “walked out the door” when the new lease extensions were approved.
As the first substantive meeting of this kind for Coliseum City, it was bound to be at times painful and awkward, and it sure delivered. That’s part of the process and a welcome one, because there’s no way in hell this thing moves forward without much greater detail. Everyone on the dais was keenly aware of the political fallout that could occur with a bad deal. The Board of Supervisors felt that Oakland was leading and dragging them into the deal, which brought about Carson’s letter and this session. There was a general consensus that communication about the project has been poor. Right now there’s a lot of skepticism to go around, most of it healthy. Project proponents have every opportunity to whip up sentiment and numbers to back their claims of renaissance and jobs. As long as the numbers are there, Coliseum City has a fighting chance. If it doesn’t pencil out, that information and the new short-term leases will conspire to make MLB’s and NFL’s decisions easy. And they’ll make today’s recriminations look like a civil dinner party.
The City of Anaheim is poised to give away development rights for virtually all of the land surrounding Angels Stadium in exchange for two simple things: the team staying in Anaheim, and the city no longer having to pay to maintain the old stadium. Is that too much to give? We’re about to find out in Orange County, and the same could be said in Oakland, where Colony Capital is being asked to provide hundreds of millions to bridge a funding gap at Coliseum City.
How big a funding gap? It depends on the scope of the project. Planning aspects of Coliseum City will be shown in presentation Monday to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and the Oakland City Council for discussion and a vote. The session will be held at 1:30 PM, which means that there probably won’t be many members of the public on hand.
Initially, the football stadium would be built along with needed infrastructure to support future development. Included would be transportation improvements, which indicates to me that they’re counting on the transit funding that was narrowly voted down in 2012. Stadium capacity remains within a broad range, and there’s no indication of whether it will have a retractable or fixed dome.
Phase II looks relatively modest, as it includes a lot of housing and limited retail (40,000 square feet). By comparison, Bay Street Emeryville has 382,000 square feet of retail and 400 housing units. It would commence in 2019, the year following the completion of the Raiders’ stadium. Also included would be a 220-room, 3.5 star hotel, signifying a mainstream brand such as Sheraton, Hilton, etc.
The final phase is most aggressive, as it likely anticipates a boom sufficient enough to make Phase III buildout feasible. Along with the ballpark there would be over 15,000 parking spaces (presumably in garages), an “Upscale” hotel, much more retail space, and nearly a million square feet of office towers. At any point one or more of these components could be removed or scaled back, which is often the case in such large projects. Since the A’s haven’t signed on with the project in any capacity, there’s no date for the ballpark’s opening. Also not included is the replacement arena, which is technically part of Area B from a planning standpoint (the focal Area A is the Coliseum and land east of 880).
We’ve covered the complexity of Coliseum City as a development project in the past. The presentation works to delineate the many issues. Compared to the DDA of the 49ers stadium in Santa Clara, Coliseum City is several orders of magnitude more complex. The big X factor is the $100+ million in remaining debt on Mt. Davis, which Mayor Quan and the City Council have said has to be baked into the new deal. There will be some sort land sale agreement that will invite scrutiny, as that’s a major key for the cost assessment for Colony Capital. Colony has some limited experience in the football realm, having recently partnered with the Chargers on their stalled (or failed depending on who you ask) plans in Downtown San Diego. This is an important framework from which many important questions about Coliseum City will be answered. Better late than never.
Update 11/25 9:10 AM – Resolutions passed nearly unanimously, with one vote against.
— Steven Tavares (@eastbaycitizen) November 25, 2013
— Steven Tavares (@eastbaycitizen) November 25, 2013
— Steven Tavares (@eastbaycitizen) November 25, 2013
Original post from Saturday:
In your typical Friday disclosure before a hastily called meeting, the Coliseum Authority (JPA) released its agenda for a Monday board meeting in which it will vote on short-term lease extensions for both the Athletics and Raiders. It’s funny to see how the negotiations have progressed. The A’s offered up a 5-year deal last year which the JPA ignored because it thought it had leverage, only to be that perceived leverage taken away by MLB two weeks ago. The Raiders have talked up a long-term deal, but only if it came with a serious plan for a new stadium. The resolutions that the JPA board is looking to pass will undoubtedly amplify the uncertainty surrounding the two franchises. Highlights:
- The A’s will get a two-year extension with no additional option years, thus extending the lease through December 31, 2015.
- The A’s would pay a slightly higher rent payment than previously negotiated at $1.5 million per year.
- In addition, the A’s would pay a mere $250,000 to maintain control over concessions.
- The parking revenue dispute between the A’s and JPA would go to arbitration, which should be decided before the end of 2014. The A’s would agree to put the disputed amount (not disclosed) in escrow.
It’s good to see that the parking issue will be resolved soon. Apparently the A’s are raising parking prices for 2014, which makes the actions seem linked. The big takeaway is that the JPA caved on concessions. Under the new terms, the A’s have the right to choose a new concessionaire, whose contract may long extend past the A’s stay in the Coliseum. However, you have to think that any concessions contract has to factor in the significantly lower value of the Coliseum should the A’s and/or Raiders leave. Yes, this could mean Aramark is replaced by someone else.
- The Raiders have a one-year deal plus an option for 2015, with both years costing the Raiders $400,000. The end of the lease is described as 45 days after the end of the team’s season.
- The Raiders could pay up to $525,000 per year to use their Harbor Bay headquarters in Alameda.
- The lease terms acknowledge that the Raiders may play one regular season or preseason home game away from the Coliseum (London in 2014).
Also wrapped up in the Raiders’ extension language is something that I’d like to call the Santa Clara clause.
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 for the 2015 season prior to March 1, 2015, then, commencing on March 1, 2015, Raiders shall have the option of continuing to use the Permanent Training Facility and Training Site for up to twenty-four (24) months, up to and including February 28, 2017 as determined in Raiders’ discretion and 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. 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, 2015, any obligation to make payments shall not commence while such discussions are continuing and the twenty-four (24) 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 2015 seasonal provided, however, that if Raiders agrees to play football at such other location, Raiders shall pay such rental payments retroactively from March 1, 2015.
Got that? The Raiders won’t be charged to use the Alameda headquarters as long as they’re in talks about Coliseum City, even if they’re playing somewhere other than the Coliseum for 2015 and 2016. If the Raiders play elsewhere while using HQ and aren’t in talks over Coliseum City, they pay $525,000 annually. Obviously, the only place where they could play in this scenario (and while the Coliseum is demolished, presumably) is Santa Clara. UC Berkeley is forbidden by legal settlement from hosting NFL games, and Palo Alto would sue Stanford to high heaven for even considering it.
Both extensions should be easily passed, unless one or more of the commissioners complain that the terms are too favorable to the teams. The teams are effectively trading rent payments, and the JPA’s incoming revenues will not make much of a dent in ongoing debt service. At least the JPA will get the parking revenue they’ve clamoring for, which at the very least should help pay for additional Coliseum City studies or minimal prep work. As for scoreboards – you weren’t banking on that, were you?
P.S. – The resolutions would have to be passed by Oakland’s City Council and Alameda’s Board of Supervisors shortly after JPA approval.