Oakland’s reckoning: Raiders or A’s?

More info about the pending lease extension came out via Lowell Cohn over the weekend and from Mark Purdy today. If you’ve been following the story since November, you’ll know that there aren’t many new items here. Yes, the A’s will pay slightly more in rent than they are now or were in the last lease. Yes, they want to put in new scoreboards. And yes, the lease term will be 10 years, with an escape clause if the Raiders build a new stadium that forces the A’s to be displaced. There is one new wrinkle, in that the “eviction” process for the A’s will include a 2 year advance notice by the JPA. That should allow the A’s enough time to properly scope out temporary venues, whether they are existing ballparks in the region or something else like a temporary new stadium. It should also put MLB at ease since they won’t have to go into scramble mode trying to make accommodations for the A’s or visiting clubs.

Cohn’s long blog post is probably the most evenhanded take he’s ever had on Lew Wolff. That alone is notable. More importantly, the post gets comments from both Wolff and Raiders owner Mark Davis on their desires for the Coliseum. Davis confirmed that he would prefer the Raiders to have Coliseum City to themselves. In Purdy’s piece, Wolff confirmed that he has no interest in Coliseum City as currently (or formerly) conceived, citing the complexity of acquiring land for the whole project, three-quarters of which (600 acres) is privately held. Wolff has experience with this, having explored and failed with that option, the Coliseum North/66th-High plan.

Wolff is a developer, and unlike the Coliseum City-Raiders concept, doesn’t need to bridge a $500-600 million funding gap. There could still be a gap, but that could be filled in by the usual private commitments (premium seat lock-in, charter seats, season ticket subscriptions). In turn, Wolff could develop the Coliseum in a more phased manner, with fewer pie-in-the-sky projections. Like Davis, Wolff wants control of a single venue and all of the revenue streams that come with it.

“But under no condition will we become a tenant of anyone in a new facility,” Wolff said. “We have to control our own destiny . . . We would be interested in the land that’s under city control. Once we’ve extended our lease, we can examine that.”

Moreover, Wolff continued to dismiss Howard Terminal, even go so far as to make the elimination of that site as a condition of negotiating on a new Coliseum ballpark, should that opportunity arise.

Naturally, there will be grousing by many in the stAy crowd about Wolff’s supposed fear of Howard Terminal. That’s ridiculous. It really comes down to two things: focus and resources. Right now Oakland is focusing most of its pro sports effort on Coliseum City through the JPA. It has spent money on an EIR, a draft of which is due in weeks. Howard Terminal, on the other hand, has no EIR even started yet. OWB, the group supporting the site, is providing $50-100k on limited work. The rest of the EIR will take at least 18 months from the start and would probably cost $2-3 million to complete. Wolff, having seen prior reports on Howard Terminal, sees this as a waste of money, time, and effort. Why spend $2-3 million to prove a negative? If OWB wants to spend that money, let them. They have the most to gain from an HT park. Something tells me that they won’t.

Then I started to think about the stadium boom of the last 25 years. I tried to figure out if there were any cities or municipalities that worked on two completely new stadium projects within the same city or market simultaneously. There aren’t many examples.

  • New York City – Citi Field & Yankee Stadium built at the same time, opened in 2009 thanks to Rudy Giuliani muscling it through.
  • Philadelphia – With Veterans Stadium and The Spectrum getting old, three venues replaced those two: Wells Fargo Center (1996), the Linc (2003), and CBP (2004).
  • Cleveland – The Jake (Progressive Field) and Gund Arena (The Q) both opened in 1994 thanks to the implementation of a city-wide sin tax.
  • Glendale, AZ – Jobing.com Arena and University of Phoenix overlapped by mere months, and have nearly bankrupted Glendale in the process.
  • Pittsburgh – Heinz Field and PNC Park opened flanking the now-departed Three Rivers Stadium.
  • Houston – Toyota Center and Reliant Stadium (NRG) also overlapped by a year and are in different parts of the city.
  • Seattle – Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field were timed to replace the Kingdome in short order.

Five of those cities had two venues built next to each other. The dual ballparks in NYC, an outlier due to circumstances, happened thanks to shady politics and shadier financing arrangements. The rest were your typical boom-era projects with huge amount of public funding. Most other venues are single-issue, pushed by the teams, and have their own unique financing structure. Oakland and Alameda County aren’t in the position those other cities are, not if various elected officials want to keep their jobs. The Raiders stadium will cost around $1 billion, while the A’s ballpark could cost $500-700 million depending on site. Oakland’s not going to be able to foot even 25% of each venue, so why would Davis and Wolff entertain the JPA’s grand schedule if they’re the ones footing the bill. The last thing Wolff and Davis want is Oakland to have divided focus on two projects that could ultimately compete against each other for scarce resources, whether money or personnel. They’re looking out for their franchises first and foremost. If Oakland gets a civic boost, great, but that’s not paramount for the owners.

And that’s why Oakland will inevitably have to choose between these two teams. Just building a single stadium, getting it approved, getting it vetted by civic groups and voters, will be its own set of difficult tasks. That demands full, undivided attention. If Oakland can’t provide that, it’s worth asking how truly serious Oakland is about all of this. That’s what Wolff and Davis are asking.

Blackwell could become Coliseum City consultant, JPA to vote on lease extension 6/20

Fred Blackwell may end up having his cake and eating it too. Weeks after shocking the City of Oakland with his announcement that he would take the CEO position at the San Francisco Foundation, the Trib reports that Blackwell may end up taking a consulting position to oversee the Coliseum City project. It’s not clear if Blackwell negotiated his availability with SFF or if the JPA will even approve the side gig. Regardless, Blackwell would be valuable to have with the project, even if he isn’t necessarily a decision maker. Then again, considering he’s pulling down $344k per year with SFF and was paid pretty well as Oakland City Administrator, perhaps he should take the gig on a volunteer basis. What better way to show your commitment, eh Fred?

In the same article, JPA board member and Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid continued his Debbie Downer attitude about Coliseum City, especially the developer/investor group BayIG.

As far as the project is concerned, Reid said progress is hard to find. The city still hasn’t been able to sign an exclusive negotiating agreement with their new development team because of a payment dispute with a former development partner.

It’ll take $100k to jettison Forest City. This should not be that difficult. The lack of progress comes in the form of the lack of commitment (the notorious “letter of interest” from the Raiders) and some deliverables, which have slipped on occasion. Still, they’ll continue to plow ahead. What choice do they have?

Then there’s this:

The first question that most will ask after this is, Is there an escape clause? Chances are that there is, beyond the fifth year. That’s what Lew Wolff wants. Mayor Quan and others on the City Council have preferred no out clause, and could vote down the extension after the JPA approves, but can you imagine how bad that would look? Especially with the mayoral race now in gear? Better to compromise and kick the can down the road than to cause yet another scene. And if there is no escape clause, I imagine that MLB wouldn’t approve it (they have to review and approve all team stadium leases). Given the state of the Coliseum, the league would want to retain flexibility for the A’s. That wouldn’t come with a 10-year, no-escape lease.

Lew Wolff has been steadfast in his stance that no future stadium talks can occur with a lease first. That’s the opposite of what Mark Davis is seeking, a stadium deal before the next lease for the Raiders. Davis said in April that a 10-year lease would make it tough for the Raiders to build at the Coliseum. Things might be a little easier if there’s an out clause, since the A’s could simply vacate when it comes time to start construction on a Coliseum replacement, whether it’s on the current Coliseum footprint or elsewhere in the complex. The current plan calls for the Coliseum to remain in use while two stadia go up alongside it. Beyond the obvious questions about parking availability, there’s still a major concern about making the financials work out. There are whispers that BayIG may not foot the bill, not so much because they can’t afford it but because the funding gap is so huge that it cuts heavily into their profit projections. And that may be the case with just one stadium, never mind the replacement ballpark. I expect the one year deadline to get pushed out by six months because of all the details and complexity. Will Davis hang in there? He already considers this stage the 11th hour.

Oral arguments in SJ-MLB case on 8/12; Kaplan & Miley work on Coli lease extension

Split the difference.

The City of San Jose surprisingly won an expedited hearing in their Ninth Circuit appeal against Major League Baseball in the spring. What remained was the announced date of the first oral argument. MLB wanted it in the fall, San Jose wanted the early summer. Today the court announced that the oral argument hearing will be held on August 12, effectively splitting the difference between the two. The hearing will be held at 9:30 AM at Courtroom 1 of the James R. Browning Courthouse (97 7th St @ Mission), 1 block away from the Civic Center BART station and across the street from the new Federal building on 7th. The wheels of justice go round and round.

Meanwhile, the second item in today’s Matier & Ross column has Oakland City Council member (and oft-rumored, undeclared mayoral candidate) Rebecca Kaplan potentially negotiating the 10-year lease extension that Lew Wolff has asked for at the Coliseum. During the hubbub in March & April, Nate Miley (who is also cited) and Larry Reid were quite vocal, making it easy to forget that Kaplan is, like Miley & Reid, a Coliseum JPA board member. If everyone’s calmed down, the two sides might be able to get something done, but first Oakland & Alameda County will have to consider the consequences of siding with the A’s. Raiders owner Mark Davis has already said that the long lease Wolff is seeking would hamper efforts for a replacement football stadium, which he still prefers on the current Coliseum site.

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The Earthquakes and 49ers announced a deal in which they’d work together to make the South Bay host “top-tier soccer events” over the next five years. The Quakes are already playing the first event at Levi’s Stadium, so this seems like no more than a formality. But it also should ensure that the two venues aren’t competing against each other for events. While Levi’s Stadium’s capacity is 68,500, it can be closed off to support 50,000 or even 35,000-person crowds. Even that lower limit is nearly double the size of the 18,000-seat Earthquakes Stadium. In theory there should be no overlap. Still, it’s possible that some matches could have ticket sales expectations that fall in between. The deal could extend to both men’s and women’s international events, friendlies, and perhaps the NCAA tournaments.

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Added 6/3 12:30 AMAll indications are that the Sharks will, in fact, host one of the NHL’s outdoor games in the 2014-15 season. The game could be held at either AT&T Park or Levi’s Stadium, AT&T being the odds-on favorite.

Announcement: Writing for Bloguin network, too

I’m happy to announce that in addition to my regular, roughly every other day posts at this site, I will be contributing to a regular column on the Bloguin network, home of Awful Announcing and a slew of sports blogs. While I don’t have an automatic fit with a particular site, my first piece was published today at The Outside Corner, Bloguin’s general baseball blog. The post is titled, “Can the A’s Survive California’s Stadium Drought?”

First post on The Outside Corner

First post on The Outside Corner

I expect to make contributions weekly, maybe even twice a week or more if time permits. The topic will be largely stadium construction, though I’ll also cover sports economics occasionally. I’ll post links here and immediately on Twitter. Bloguin CEO first proposed the idea last week, and I felt that I had the bandwidth so I said yes. I look forward to taking more of the general sports posts that I used to write more frequently here to Bloguin, where I feel they’ll have a more appropriate home.

As usual, feedback is welcome. Thanks to all of you loyal readers. It’s you who have helped build this site’s creditability so that I could spread knowledge elsewhere.

Davis clarifies stadium wish list through Papa

Greg Papa had a lengthy conversation with Mark Davis after the owners meetings, during which Davis clarified what he wants out of Oakland. Papa related the discussion on The Wheelhouse earlier today (about 14 minutes into the recording). There are some different criteria and some flexibility shown by Davis, which could make the process easier if that pesky funding issue could be figured out. Davis’s wish list:

  • Davis could provide $200 million of his own (Raiders) money
  • $200 million would come from the NFL’s G-4 program.
  • Davis wants a stadium with a 60,000-seat capacity and would like a Super Bowl, which requires a 70,000-seat capacity.
  • Davis also said that he (or rather his mother) owns 51% of the team, and can retain controlling interest with only a 20% share. Davis will never give up controlling interest.
  • Davis has met/lunched with and likes Lew Wolff.
  • Davis continues to prefer that the old stadium be torn down and replaced with a new one. A lengthy lease with the A’s would interfere with those plans.
  • Papa hinted that the JPA could provide $100 million in public funding.
  • Davis would be comfortable with temporarily moving elsewhere for 2-3 years while a new stadium was being built.

So we have Davis’s 60,000, AECOM’s 50,000, and BayIG’s number, which may be 65,000 or more based on their optimism about the East Bay as a market. Someone’s going to have to put everyone on the same page. I’m at a loss as to who does that or how it gets done. Coliseum City is a complex project to put it mildly. So many different stakeholders make for more variables.

What does Mark Davis really want?

With this year’s NFL Draft firmly in the rearview mirror, the time has come for Mark Davis to once again talk about the urgency required to get a new stadium for the Raiders built. It’s becoming an awfully familiar refrain, one we’ll hear again every few weeks throughout the summer and as the football season starts. According to NFL.com’s Mike Coppinger, Davis says that the Raiders are in the 11th hour, a rather dire place indeed if you believe such metaphors.

“I would probably say (negotiations are in) the 11th hour,” Davis said. “It’s always the 11th hour because we’ve been waiting a long time, been waiting a long time on this project. If it doesn’t happen, then we have to start looking at the other options. … We want to stay in Oakland. We want to get something done.”

Updated 5/29 – The story originally came from Zennie Abraham’s 5/20 post, in which he spoke to Mark Davis and Raiders finance officer Marc Badain at the owners meetings.

Oh, so it has always been urgent. Okay.

Davis even pumped up his own position by claiming that he has more money to throw at the project:

$400 million could be very useful. It could also be illusory. There’s no indication of whether that pledge includes money from the NFL’s G4 program or strictly from the team. Either way, the project is still short at least $500 million based on new stadium cost estimates. BayIG has its estimates, AECOM has different estimates. The EIR is due in a few weeks, and BayIG is expected to deliver a complete market and revenue study in the near future. Let’s be clear on one thing, however – $400 million is no more than a nice gesture at this point.

And there’s something odd about how Davis has gone about this stadium quest. While he has occasionally asked about land in Concord and Dublin, he has publicly stayed “loyal” to Oakland. Oakland and the JPA have reciprocated that commitment, at least to the point of getting Coliseum City studied. Yet there’s a strange omission from Davis’s efforts, and it’s a pretty glaring one once you think about it.

Davis has never proposed his own stadium plan.

Not in Oakland or anywhere else in the East Bay. Not in LA either. Instead, Davis has been content to allow others to formulate their own proposals, which he could support from a distance. As BayIG asks for information, Davis directs the front office to provide it. Then Davis will talk about the progress of the project, which has for some time now looked stunted. When the Coliseum City concept was in its infancy, there were rumblings that the Raiders and the NFL were at odds with the JPA regarding the scope of the project. The Raiders wanted an smaller, open air stadium on the site of the current Coliseum, not the big retractable dome that Mayor Jean Quan advocated. Sometime in the last year, the Raiders stopped (or did they even start?) fighting for their scaled down stadium plan.

Let’s look at the history of local stadium plans, shall we?

  • Giants – Led stadium effort in late 90’s, opened new downtown SF ballpark in 2000
  • 49ers – Left SF for Santa Clara, lobbied hard for new stadium, opening in 2014
  • Warriors – Suffered setback with waterfront arena, then secured expensive land for different site in SF
  • A’s – Led effort in Fremont which died in 2009, then took up mantle for San Jose
  • Sharks – Weren’t even around when San Jose arena was first being considered, then used own money to get arena up to proper spec
  • Raiders – ???

Davis showed up at a petition effort to keep the Raiders in Oakland, which makes for good optics among fans. His lack of willingness to get his hands dirty for an Oakland stadium is simply baffling. No stadium in the modern era gets built without a lot of lobbying, horse trading, and compromise. Davis has shown no sign of being willing to work to get it. His reactions have simply been, Well I’m waiting here and nothing’s getting done. Perhaps the question that should be posed to Davis is, What are you willing to do to keep the Raiders in Oakland? If $400 million isn’t going to cut it, and Davis isn’t going to carry the water for the effort, what are we dealing with here? We have seen the cost estimates spiral upward. Davis could have used that as an opportunity to present his own more feasible, more cost-efficient plan. That hasn’t happened. If I were a Raider fan, that would make me nervous.

The $200 million alternative for Oakland

The dark side of being a city that proudly hosts a major professional sports franchise is the fact that the very same city has to pay for that pride. Usually it means taxpayer subsidies on new or upgraded facilities. Efforts have been made over the last 20-30 years to include capital improvement budgets in each stadium deal, to pay for new seats, scoreboards, or simply to keep up with the Joneses.

So it’s rather disheartening to hear the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, only months after the passing of beloved Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. and the approval of a plan to upgrade his namesake stadium, is already calling for a brand new stadium. The lifespan of the old stadium is at its practical end to Goodell and NFL brass. A new stadium somewhere in Western New York is the best plan, not just for the league but also for the team valuation if Wilson’s heirs decide it’s time to sell.

Knowing this, I’m going to posit an idea that would have little to no traction if it were presented in New York. Read it anyway, think it over, and ask yourself why these stadia cost so much.

The Citrus Bowl in Orlando is undergoing a $200 million, 9-month makeover. For that $200 million, HNTB (same firm that redid the Coliseum in the 90’s) is demolishing the lower bowl. The only parts of the original stadium remaining are the upper decks along each sideline, which were completed in 1990. You could call it a reverse-Mt. Davis.

Pretty much all of the things you’d expect in a brand new pro stadium will be in the redone Citrus Bowl. That includes:

  • 60-65,000 seats depending on event
  • 5,000 club seats
  • 25,000 square feet of club lounges
  • 34 suites (10 additional)
  • Loge boxes
  • New locker rooms for teams and officials
  • Expanded lower and upper concourses
  • Circulation stairs, escalators, and elevators
  • Restrooms and back-of-the-house facilities
  • 40 x 120 main scoreboard, smaller boards in opposite end zone
  • 10,000 square foot party deck in end zone

Other than the suite total and the greater number of seats, how is that different from what the Raiders are seeking? And it’s being done for $200 million, in only NINE MONTHS. That’s roughly the same timeframe as the Stanford Stadium reconstruction project, yet more comprehensive. HNTB and Turner Construction are under the gun to get the stadium done by November, in time for the first game there: the Florida Blue Florida Classic, the football matchup between historically black colleges Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. The Citrus Bowl no longer has a permanent team tenant since Central Florida moved to their own on-campus football stadium. That leaves the FBFC, and two bowl games, the Russell Athletic Bowl and the Capital One Bowl.

The Raiders could have virtually the same thing done at the Coliseum. AECOM’s study showed that the Raiders have too many suites, with 75 as the right number as opposed to the 143 they currently have. The East stand (Mt. Davis) has 90 suites on its own. One of the levels suites could be converted to broadcast and press facilities, but that side of the stadium is prone to bad sun conditions in the afternoon, when most home games would be played. Perhaps the press box could be placed in the lower suite level, with something in place in the new seating bowl to block out the sun. In league with that transformation, the locker rooms would be moved to under the East lower seats. The space there is mostly used for storage. If not that kind of reuse, the Raiders could have a new press box above and lockers rooms below the redone western seats (old main bowl), though that would be more expensive. Then again, Orlando is somehow doing all of this for $200 million, so how much more could it cost Oakland? 50%? That’s still a no-brainer compared to the prospect of a $1 billion, 50,000-seat stadium.

Another thing that would have to change, in order to accommodate 50,000 or so seats for the Raiders, is the removal of the upper deck of Mt. Davis. That would get rid of approximately 9,000 seats, leaving 13,000 seats on the East side. Now let’s say 1,000 more are removed to accommodate the press box move and the switch from some club seats to loge boxes, that’s 12,000. Even then, the Raiders and Oakland would only have to build 38,000 new seats, most of them concentrated in a single structure on the West side. Essentially, the new construction would be limited to a structure with the capacity of a ballpark, which should be significantly cheaper to implement.

There are any number of ways this could work. Maybe everyone decides to use half of the Mt. Davis upper deck instead of the whole thing. Or they could build a new cantilevered seating deck where the top suite level currently is. Either way it makes a ton more sense than spending $1 billion or more on a new stadium. It could be done in 12-18 months, which would force the Raiders to play in Santa Clara for a year. The model is there and proven, Oakland. Will Oakland have enough sense to consider it?

Levi’s Stadium picks up additional events, outlines tour costs (Update: Pac-12 game added)

Update 5/15 – The Pac-12 Conference has announced that the annual football conference championship game will be held at Levi’s Stadium. That means that Levi’s Stadium will have 15 events in the final 5 months of 2014, or 3 per month.

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Less than three months before the first event at Levi’s Stadium, the allure of hosting an event there is proving strong. Already, the Earthquakes and Cal football will have games there. Last week, the CCS (Central Coast Section) approved local high school Wilcox the opportunity to play a home game on August 29 at Levi’s. The game vs. visiting Manteca will be part of a high school doubleheader, which may also include powerhouse De La Salle of Concord.

The schedule of events for the fall at Levi’s Stadium will look like this:

  • 8/2 – Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes
  • 8/17 – Broncos at 49ers (preseason)
  • 8/24 – Chargers at 49ers (preseason)
  • 8/29 – High School football – Merced vs. Wilcox, TBA vs. De La Salle
  • 9/14 – Bears at 49ers (regular season home opener)
  • 9/28 – Eagles at 49ers
  • 10/5 – Chiefs at 49ers
  • 10/24 – Oregon vs. Cal
  • 11/2 – Rams at 49ers
  • 11/23 – Redskins at 49ers
  • 11/27 – Seahawks at 49ers (Thanksgiving game)
  • 12/5 – Pac-12 championship game (added 5/15)
  • 12/20 – Chargers at 49ers
  • 12/28 – Cardinals at 49ers
  • 12/? – Fight Hunger Bowl (date TBA)

The MLS match and the HS football doubleheader present a couple of chances for the 49ers to not only break in the stadium but also to stage events with less than a full house. For the Quakes game, the upper deck is not being sold. Chances are that the same will happen for the high school games. Levi’s Stadium is also getting into bidding for the CIF State football championships, which have long been played at StubHub Center (formerly Home Depot Center) in Carson. Personally, I’d like to see the CCS championships at the new digs too. The top division games are played at San Jose City College.

Levi’s Stadium is also making itself available as a future site of the Pac-12 football championship game. Since the restructuring of the conference, the Pac-12 has chosen to stage the game at the home of the team with the best record among the North and South division leaders. The schools seem to like the home-hosting situation, which should mean some resistance towards a neutral site championship. Of course, the other big time FBS conferences have neutral site championship games with the exception of the Big 12, which no longer needs one due to having only 10 teams. The Pac-12 is rather spread out geographically, making it difficult to arrange for fans to fly into the Bay Area on short notice, especially for cheap.

At least for this year, the Santa Clara venue will miss out on the International Champions Cup, a series of soccer exhibitions by top European clubs (at least in name if not by roster). Instead, the one West Coast match will be played at Cal’s Memorial Stadium, which I suppose makes for a fair trade if Cal’s going to lose a home game by rescheduling it in Santa Clara. Other soccer matches are sure to follow, and don’t forget Wrestlemania, which will be played at Levi’s Stadium next March.

For those who simply want to visit the stadium, the team has been giving hard hat tours to VIPs and others who can arrange group outings. Regular public tours will begin in August at $25 per person. If you think that’s expensive – well, it is. Cowboys Stadium tours start at $17.50, and MetLife Stadium tours cost $20. Cost to visit the new 49ers museum, which does not include a stadium tour, is $15.

The $978 million, 50,000-seat NFL stadium

Yesterday the second of two public outreach meetings for Coliseum City was held at Oakland City Hall. I was flying in during the afternoon, so I wasn’t able to make it. Thankfully, @greenkozi (the macinator) put together a Storify compilation of tweets related to the meeting. It should give you a good sense of what was being discussed during the meeting.

Unable to attend, I’ve focused over the last few days on the just-released Coliseum City Football Stadium Revenue Study. The 177-page document covers a variety of funding scenarios for the Raiders stadium, including public and private options. Some of the key takeaways:

  • The full development could generate $22-26 million of annual tax revenue for the project, including ticket, sales, property, and hotel taxes.
  • That tax revenue would support $120-140 million of public debt for the project.
  • Ancillary development, even with three teams remaining at the Coliseum, looks rather modest.
Ancillary buildout potential at Coliseum City

Ancillary buildout potential at Coliseum City

  • Economic impact for the both the stadium and ancillary development is estimated at $2.8 billion.
  • Operating income (private) for the development is estimated at $49 million per year, which would support $300 million in debt. Combined with the public portion, a total of $420 million of debt could be supported. That would leave a nearly $700 million funding gap.
  • The stadium would have a capacity of 50,000, including 75 suites, 4,700 club seats, 200 loge seats, and would cost $978 million to construct.

AECOM’s previous study from last summer had the stadium also at 50,000 including premium seats, a number that was debated. This confirms the number, though the stadium cost has jumped from $700 million to $978 million (and rising) in a matter of months.

A 50,000-seat stadium is a rather alarming figure. People should be asking why the team and market can’t support a larger stadium. 50,000 seats won’t bring in a Super Bowl, and any new stadium has already lost the prestige battle with Levi’s Stadium, which will have a Super Bowl, bowl game, Wrestlemania, and a number of other events. While this study has looked into a number of new development scenarios involving 1-3 new venues, there is no discussion of incorporating any part of the existing Coliseum, nor is there any mention of the existing Coliseum debt. The most cost-efficient route for the Raiders for a “new” venue would be to rebuild the old bowl of the Coliseum and refurbish Mt. Davis, while lopping off the upper deck. That could be done for less than half the cost being considered, while providing an opportunity for ancillary development with an A’s stadium or something else.

A renovated Coliseum could be done in phases in a much more economical manner than a $1 billion new stadium

Maybe the NFL and the Raiders have considered this idea a nonstarter, so the JPA and BayIG aren’t going there. The aesthetics of the Coliseum aren’t great for transit-oriented development. But considering the growing funding gaps and the enormous obstacles to getting just the stadium built, it’s crazy that a renovated Coliseum isn’t under consideration. All they’d have to do is build roughly half a new stadium. There’s no situation where that’s more expensive than, oh, a whole new stadium. Seriously, am I missing something here?

Key Coliseum City deadline passes with no Raiders letter of interest

Added 2:43 PM: Now dead Piers 30/32 development schedule.

dubs-schedule-arena

About two-thirds of the bubbles in this chart are no longer needed

Important documents for the Coliseum City project were due Monday. While some needed reports were apparently submitted just before the deadline, a signed letter of intent interest from Raiders ownership did not, according to CSN’s Scott Bair. The letter of interest was a requirement for development group BayIG, though it’s not known what will happen now that the deadline has passed. Important informational documents from BayIG were received, which could include the long-awaited funding and revenue sources analyses. Those will be important for determining the feasibility of the project.

Given the paucity of information available at the moment, it would behoove Raiders owner Mark Davis to proceed cautiously. But the bar for commitment was set extremely low, as BayIG was not required to get a Letter of Intent from the Raiders. Instead, BayIG only needed to get a Letter of Interest. While a Letter of Intent is generally non-binding in matters such as these, at least it lays out basic terms for a deal. A Letter of Interest is an entirely speculative document, only promising future discussions (sort of like an ENA without the “E”). If Davis hasn’t even provided a response for a much lesser requirement, you have to wonder what he really thinks about the project. 

Then again, the Letter of Interest is so weak that it can’t really make or break Coliseum City anyway. If there are consequences for BayIG not delivering, we certainly have no idea what they are. And it seems highly unlikely that BayIG and the JPA won’t move forward because of this. They’ve already engaged the Raiders in preliminary discussions and submitted several reports, so halting the project now would be tantamount to throwing in the towel. That wouldn’t go over well considering some $3 million was previously approved for studies.

For now, we’ll await any documents that are made available. Raiders fans can hope that Davis was simply too preoccupied the Terrelle Pryor trade or with the Warriors-Clippers series to respond. If the week ends without the LoI from the Raiders, there will be a lot of questions about that subject at Thursday’s and Saturday’s community meetings. People will be wondering how committed to Oakland Davis really is. Meanwhile, Lew Wolff will be sitting back, watching everyone involved with Coliseum City twist in the wind.