Mark Davis revises his Coliseum “vision”

In a fairly lengthy interview with ESPN’s John Clayton yesterday, Raiders owner Mark Davis held court on his team’s stadium issues. While much of it was a rehash for those who have been following this saga intensely, it was good for casual fans and observers to get even the tiniest bit clarity. In any case, the Raiders saw fit to republish it on their own website so it must have the boss’s approval.

What caught my attention was a change in how he saw the Coliseum being developed. While continuing to call for the Coliseum’s demolition, Davis dreamed out loud of a dual-stadium concept in the old venue’s place (emphasis mine).

One of the challenges we have with that is that we share the stadium with the Oakland A’s. The Oakland A’s have a 10-year lease to remain in the Coliseum. One of the plans that they’re talking about is, is us building the stadium in the corner of a parking lot and then once our new stadium is built, then they would rip down the stadium and build the new one for the A’s and build housing and all of that stuff. That just isn’t a situation that I want to get us into. I would like for, if possible, the Raiders and the A’s to stay on that site and that the Raiders and A’s vacate the Coliseum for the next two or three years. We build a brand new football stadium and a brand new baseball stadium on the site and then we’d come back and begin playing in two brand new stadiums without construction going on around us, in brand new stadiums.

The desire to avoid construction zone headaches remains steady for Davis. Plus in this concept Davis would preserve surface parking, a goal shared by A’s owner Lew Wolff. Wolff doesn’t think the place can properly support more than one stadium project, so how could something like this be done? It’s nothing like Coliseum City, which has planned phases. Both stadia would be done simultaneously, like Arrowhead Stadium and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. Let’s imagine a timeline for Davis, assuming no legal, logistical, or financial obstacles (follow me on this).

  • End of 2015 – Coliseum City is scrapped. Raiders play their last game at the Coliseum in December. Raiders and A’s hammer out stadium development deals with Oakland/Alameda County. Partial demolition begins (ironically) with the newest part of the Coliseum, Mt. Davis, returning the venue to its 1995-96 state – but with the Oakland Hills back in full view. That occurs from November 2015 to March 2016.
  • 2016 – A’s play their last season in the old Coliseum in reduced facility. A’s lease is revised (with no penalty to anyone) to reflect this. Raiders and A’s finalize their financing plans for their respective venues.
  • November 2016 – Demolition of rest of the Coliseum begins, which should take 6 months to complete including grading for new venues (use drawn out Candlestick Park demolition for reference).
  • April 2017 – Construction starts on both stadia, with a planned completion of Spring 2019 for the A’s, Summer/Fall 2019 for the Raiders. Both teams use smaller footprint, simpler plans and Levi’s Stadium-style incentive/penalty system to execute those accelerated schedules (24 months for A’s, 28 months for Raiders).
  • 2018-2019 – Warriors vacate Oracle/Coliseum Arena for San Francisco. Decision is made on whether to keep arena or demolish it to make way for other development.
  • April 2019 – A’s ballpark opens
  • August 2019 – Raiders stadium opens

The finished product(s) would look like this:

Two new venues on a slightly larger footprint than the original

Two new venues on a slightly larger footprint than the original

The Raiders would have to play at a temporary facility for three seasons, the A’s for two. AT&T Park would have to be a considered a frontrunner for both, oddly enough. Memorial Stadium remains off limits to the Raiders thanks to a legal agreement between UC and the City of Berkeley, and Stanford Stadium is a nonstarter for both the university and City of Palo Alto. Davis doesn’t want to play at Levi’s Stadium for his stated reasons, though it must also have something to do with the 49ers’ desire to have a tenant for at least a decade in order to pay for the second home team locker room.

That brings me to the real problem in all of this, the financing. Tallying up all of the associated costs, we come to:

  • $900+ million – Raiders
  • $600+ million – A’s
  • $100 million – Remaining Coliseum debt including interest
  • $65 million – Remaining Arena debt in 2018

Final total, not including the planned work on the Coliseum transit hub, is $1.665 Billion. Obviously, much of that would be covered by the teams, the NFL, and perhaps third parties, but the gap for the Raiders remains, and the need to retire the legacy debt from project sources without hitting either Oakland’s or Alameda County’s general funds means that the public sector would have to give up something. For now it’s unclear what that is since the Coliseum’s land is not going to be that public contribution.

Price tag aside it’s a tantalizing vision for fans, and one that runs counter to planning and growth goals for Oakland and Alameda County. From a broad perspective, the public sector wants housing of different kinds and price ranges to ease the current crunch. Pols may see this as nothing more than doubling down on the stadium deals of 20 years ago, which brought only fiscal pain and little real security with regards to the teams staying in Oakland. The people who might like it the most are workers at the Coliseum complex and businesses west of the Nimitz who thought their livelihoods were being threatened by Oakland’s sweeping zoning change proposals. As for East Oakland residents, well, how much has this hulking pro sports complex improved their lives in nearly 50 years?

 

Adventures in NFL stadium financing, San Diego edition

We’re still several months from the NFL and its constituent owners making any decisions on team relocations, yet the league and Roger Goodell are getting exactly what they want. San Diego and St. Louis are bending over backwards to make please the kings, Carson and Inglewood are having their own battle over the presumptive single Los Angeles stadium slot, and Oakland is, well, treading water I guess.

San Diego’s CSAG (Citizen’s Stadium Advisory Group) released its plan in time for the owners meetings in San Francisco. As expected, it focused on building at the current Qualcomm/Mission Valley site instead of the downtown site the Chargers preferred in prior years. The cost is expected to be $1.4 billion, broken down into various revenue sources:

sd-financing

The plan proudly proclaims no new taxes, which is technically true, but it neglects to mention that it’s carrying over an ongoing operating subsidy, split equally by the City and County, that was negotiated to keep the Chargers at Qualcomm. So right off the bat that’s $242 million in present value subsidy, plus the sale of 75 acres at the stadium for $225 million. Field of Schemes has the total subsidy at $647 million, I’ll call it $467 million as I won’t count the various rents as subsidies (you might) or . $500 million would come from the Chargers (60%) and the NFL’s G-4 fund (40%) in the plan, though the Chargers’ recent disinterest in the deal may indicate a dissatisfaction in their $300 million piece. Since PSL revenue ($150 million) would be limited and is already accounted for, the Chargers would have to come up with $200-210 million on their own from non-PSL sources like tickets, concessions, and some luxury seating proceeds. That translates into a $12 million/year of revenue required of the Chargers along with $10 million/year for rent, assuming that San Diego hits its fundraising targets for PSLs. For reference, the 49ers pay roughly $24 million/year in rent at Levi’s Stadium. To help offset that cost to the team, the Chargers would have control of naming rights. A $12 million/year naming rights deal for 30 years (both optimistic projections) would effectively cancel out the $300 million team contribution.

A special infrastructure financing district would be created to allow for future ancillary development to take place. That would be worth $116 million, though that money wouldn’t go towards construction of the stadium. Another $40 million come from future hotel taxes to fund a hotel next to the stadium. To many stadium advocates, hotel and car rental taxes are not considered a true subsidies since they aren’t levied on locals. They’re still taxes.

Two parts of the plan struck me immediately. $225 million from the land sale may well be appropriate for the area, which has a trolley station that could anchor some transit-oriented development. The more important takeaway is that $225 million now sets a bar for Coliseum City, in that San Diego is now offering up land for free to fund the stadium’s construction, so Oakland and Alameda County will be expected to do something similar. This is despite the fact that the NFL has recently frowned upon real estate development acting as a funding source in favor of less speculative revenue streams – as if PSL sales aren’t speculative.

The other question mark is operating costs. CSAG claims that based on examples like AT&T Stadium in Dallas, revenue from a year-round event schedule would make the stadium self-sustaining. I find this assertion highly optimistic at best. The fact is that a stadium will cost $7-10 million per year to operate just for the NFL games. If that isn’t accounted for, why should anyone believe that revenue from other much smaller events will make up for that operating cost, not to mention the cost associated with running those smaller events?

The total cost of the project is $1.4 billion with a $1.1 billion construction cost, so perhaps that “buffer” will take care of the subsidy. If it doesn’t, chances are taxpayers will foot the bill, adding another $121+ million to the public side of the ledger.

I’ll do a proper comparison of San Diego vs. St. Louis and the two LA plans plus Oakland when those come out. For now I encourage you to assess San Diego’s plan on its own merits. CSAG’s plan appears meant to be in line with the stadium financing structures for Minneapolis and Santa Clara, at least in terms of public share. If that’s the case, the NFL should be able to pivot and align with the plan they way the same are posturing to do with St. Louis. Is it a good deal? Not really, but this is the NFL we’re talking about. As usual, they hold the cards.

Davis affirms desire to tear down Coliseum

As the NFL owners meetings get underway at the Ritz Carlton in SF, KTVU reporter Noelle Walker caught up with Raiders owner Mark Davis, who made it abundantly clear that he wants the Coliseum complex for himself:

Davis confirmed that if a Coliseum City plan goes forward at the current Coliseum site, he wants the old stadium demolished before a new one is built.

‘If we’re going to build on that 120 acre site, we would have to tear down one stadium to build another one in that same place,’ Davis said. ‘I don’t want to build a brand new stadium and then have it be in a construction zone for next two, three, four years.’

Davis doesn’t want a construction zone around a new stadium. Wolff put in the A’s lease terms that would give the team an out if their operations were impacted by the Raiders’ stadium (construction taking out parking). If by now you haven’t come to terms with the need for Oakland to make a choice (or else have a choice made for them), make yourself a pot of coffee in the morning and breathe in its aroma deeply.

In her report Walker termed the dilemma Oakland’s “Sophie’s Choice.” Call it that, a Catch-22, Kobayashi Maru, Hail Mary. whatever construct you like that doesn’t exactly fit but helps explain the dilemma. Oakland has chosen to try to juggle both teams. In the process it has looked indecisive. The NFL disapproves. And so Oakland’s best hope is in that very same NFL keeping the Raiders from moving because it deems Oakland’s proposal at least compelling, if not altogether sufficient. Might need to throw in an Act of Contrition on top of that Hail Mary.

Grubman: In Three Years Oakland Has Gone Backwards

Stan Kroenke's planned indoor stadium in Inglewood

Stan Kroenke’s planned indoor stadium in Inglewood

The NFL’s man in charge of potential relocations, Eric Grubman, called into to LA sportscaster Fred Roggin’s radio show today. Grubman fielded a lot of questions, including Roggin’s asking him to assess Oakland’s chances of getting a stadium deal done:

I’ve had multiple visits to Oakland. And in those visits – each of those for the past three years – I visited with with public officials, and I feel like we’ve gone backwards. So I feel like we’ve lost years and gone backwards. And that usually doesn’t bode well.

Grubman’s talking about the same Oakland that passed zoning changes and an EIR for Coliseum City, so from the process standpoint Oakland hasn’t gone backwards in the slightest. The financing piece is what remains a mystery, and I think I know why.

Coliseum City in dreamier times

Coliseum City in dreamier times

Three years ago, the big money tied to Coliseum City was Forest City, a proven mega-developer. They determined early in the vetting period that they weren’t going to make money, so they cut their losses. Colony Capital and HayaH Holdings took Forest City’s place. Rumors of other kinds of exotic financing surfaced (EB-5 visas, Crown Prince of Dubai). In the end, Colony Capital give up too, leaving Oakland scrambling to find someone to pick up the pieces.

Eventually that savior came in the form of Floyd Kephart. Kephart’s an adviser to the money, not the actual money guy, an added factor in an already complicated deal (his company gets a small cut). Over the past several months Grubman has dropped hints that the NFL prefers to have a simpler deal in Oakland, one without a middle man and preferably one not so contingent upon pie-in-the-sky development plans to help pay for a stadium. The league and the Raiders went into Coliseum City wanting a simpler, smaller outdoor stadium, a concept that didn’t take hold with Oakland until last fall. Even now there’s a lack of consensus about what the actual plan is, which probably frustrates the NFL to no end. If you don’t have a set concept for a stadium, you can’t have a cost estimate, and you can’t nail down the financing. Meanwhile, Stan Kroenke has financing down in Inglewood, the NFL is giving credit to St. Louis on its efforts to get public financing, and newcomer Carson, which has numerous details not in place, at least has Goldman Sachs working with the Chargers and the Raiders on 49ers-style financing for the shared stadium.

Over time the big question overshadowing Coliseum City has only gotten bigger. Everyone involved with Coliseum City knows this, you and I know this, and most importantly the NFL knows this. I’ve heard so many Oakland fans talking about how the NFL will provide $200 million or Davis can put together $400 million or even more. But anyone who has observed the NFL stadium loan process knows that the money is anything but a given. It’s directly tied to achievable stadium revenues, and is not the foundation upon which a stadium financing plan is built. Other financing has to be the foundation. The NFL awards a G-4 loan only after everything else is secured. Maybe Kephart has an ace up his sleeve that will help him deliver the project. Right now it’s easy to peg Oakland as the most behind the eight-ball in terms of actually building a stadium. Despite that gloomy outlook, things may play out in a way that keeps the team in Oakland – even without a new stadium on the horizon. Grubman advised against anyone putting forth definitive statements about any team’s future, and I agree completely. There are too many variables, too many possibilities to say anything with real confidence.

The other thing I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is how the media has covered the teams’ stadium prospects in the different markets. LA media is fired up about at least one team coming as they haven’t been in 20 years, with the Daily News and the Times providing unrelenting coverage and talking heads like Roggin regularly talking about it on the radio. San Diego sports radio has tried to prop up site alternatives in the city while the Union Tribune has constantly beat the stadium drum, led by columnist Nick Canepa. The Post Dispatch has worked the St. Louis and State of Missouri efforts, with Bernie Miklasz writing quite a bit about the Rams’ travails – at least until spring training started.

In the Bay Area? You have news coverage from the Chronicle and BANG, plus in-depth stuff from Bizjournals. Columns and radio air time have been remarkably light on the Raiders’ stadium issue, especially when compared to the 49ers’ move to Santa Clara and the A’s efforts to leave Oakland. I can’t figure out exactly why. Sure, the nomadic history of the Raiders has to be a factor, as is the Davis name. There has to be more to it, though. Are people tired of the stadium saga? Are they coming to grips with the idea that at least one team will leave the Coliseum complex? There are supporting fan/civic groups in the East Bay, but they don’t have big voices. In the past Dave Newhouse would’ve been the guy screaming bloody murder about it all, these days it’s Matier & Ross sprinkling in a scare once in a while. The loudest voice is a college-aged superfan from the Sacramento area who knows little about politics, especially Bay Area politics. If a decision is made to move the Raiders in the next year or so, many will be left wondering how it all happened, and they can start with the media. The flip side of this light coverage is that there are no frequent calls to provide public financing, a refreshing change of pace.

Hell, I’m only interested in the Raiders insofar as it affects the A’s. If the Raiders leave in 2016, that’s fine with me since I can focus on what it’ll take to build a new ballpark for the A’s at the Coliseum. I’d love to be more empathetic, but frankly I’ve been waiting 20 years for a proper ballpark for the A’s, half of those years writing this blog. The quicker the A’s can determine their own future the better. And if that means the Raiders are gone, so be it.

We’re All Screwed

Great sentiment to take into a new season, isn’t it? Things may not seem that dire, but consider that I’ve been writing this blog for ten years and we’re no closer to a stadium than we were in 2005. As Howard Bryant explains in his latest ESPN The Magazine article, we may actually be further from a solution than before. There remains a single site in the Bay Area that baseball is willing to consider, and it is encumbered by a competing development process (Coliseum City). Everyone involved has acted and looked bad and has generally failed abysmally:

  • A’s don’t want Oakland, still covet San Jose
  • Giants remain greedy and recalcitrant
  • MLB provides no leadership
  • Oakland interests trashed A’s ownership, tried to force sale of A’s to no avail
  • San Jose sued MLB, making them a non-entity in terms of negotiation while lawsuit was ongoing

Bryant goes on to explain that MLB is banking on the Coliseum City falling through and the Raiders leaving, which would leave the A’s at the Coliseum to work out a deal, a solution presenting itself with no intervention required on Commissioner Rob Manfred’s part. Convenient, right?

Of course, progress made recently on the EIR process won’t necessarily translate into actual deal success. City archives all over the state are full of dead EIRs from projects that were never built.

An under construction Coliseum in more hopeful times

An under construction Coliseum in more hopeful times

Nevertheless, that’s the outcome MLB sees. It’s one that A’s management is willing to play along with, for now at least. It doesn’t mandate getting a ballpark built right away or even soon, thanks to a lease that can take the A’s through the 2024 season.

Like Lew Wolff assuming that The Lodge would work out a deal for San Jose, MLB assumes that the Raiders are in LA after 2015. But even that’s difficult to forecast at this point. Stan Kroenke’s Inglewood stadium plan has the most momentum at this point, and the Carson concept is being spearheaded by the Chargers. Both teams have plans to accommodate a second team, though they have both declared that a second team is not a necessity. The NFL wants no more than two teams in Southern California (including the San Diego market). Those two teams could be the ones spearheading separate stadium projects. Or they could partner together on a single stadium. The Raiders, not having their own stadium plan to push, have to hope that Kroenke’s plan falls through and Carson succeeds, allowing the Raiders and Chargers to be the LA teams. If Kroenke gets his stadium, it doesn’t matter whether the Chargers stay in San Diego, move to Carson in their own stadium, or partner at Inglewood, the Raiders are the odd man out. There’s the odd chance that either the Chargers or Raiders could move to St. Louis, but few outside of St. Louis are considering the idea seriously.

Therefore, MLB’s hopes rest with a very silent man who has little interest (and zero actual financial interest) in baseball. Kroenke owns or has owned franchises in every other major sport, including top tier English soccer (Arsenal).

Whither the A’s in all of this? As usual, that depends. If the Raiders are shut out of LA because of the Rams’ and Chargers’ activity, the Raiders would effectively be forced to work on a stadium in Oakland, ostensibly at the Coliseum. Naturally, that would conflict with the A’s and MLB’s plans. Don’t believe for a moment that either team or league is going to actively work with the other on a joint development plan. With no public subsidy in sight, the Raiders and A’s will look to horde whatever revenue-generating opportunities they can, whether we’re talking entitlements or parking. Either way, that will run into conflict with Oakland’s designs on the Coliseum land, which are to create a new neighborhood with up to 10,000 new residents. Strangely enough, a “same as existing” use plan for the Coliseum lands would work best for entrenched interests in the area, including East Oakland residents concerned about gentrification and businesses west of 880 fighting against losing industrial land.

Should the Raiders look elsewhere in the East Bay, the A’s would be in the driver’s seat for the Coliseum. Yet as previously investigated sites are eliminated – Camp Parks and Concord NWS have their own plans underway – the Raiders will be even more boxed in at the Coliseum. Worst case they stumble to Santa Clara, where they would play tenant to the 49ers instead of the JPA. Chances are that they’d partner with a developer (SunCal?) for the Coliseum. Finally, that choice that I’ve been talking about for years, the one nobody in the East Bay has wanted to talk about publicly, would have to be made.

That doesn’t mean any choice would be made immediately, let alone a stadium built. Look at what happened for the San Jose Earthquakes. The team was reborn in 2008, had a stadium promised in 2010, didn’t start construction until 2012, and didn’t open until 2015. Seven years, and for a city that Lew Wolff actually loves. It’s easier to start construction when you’re absolutely sure the checks will come in.

Having to privately finance an entire stadium is hard enough, now the A’s would have to do so in small market Oakland. It’s not even so much about whether Wolff and John Fisher want to do it, does MLB want to subsidize it for 30-40 years via revenue sharing? If the A’s are going to carry a big mortgage in Oakland with iffy corporate support, revenue sharing seems an absolute necessity to keep the A’s in good financial health. That’s the alternative to negotiating with the Giants.

And if the Raiders build at the Coliseum instead? Well, the A’s would be able to leave the Coliseum, but for where? San Jose is not a player in this scheme, but you’d be surprised at what avenues can open up once MLB runs out of options and leverage. That might mean Diridon, it might mean Howard Terminal. It would be fitting for MLB to actually do something after years of actively sitting on its hands. As long as the A’s remain in the Bay Area, even severely delayed progress would be well worth it.

Prominent developer SunCal brought in for Coliseum City study

SunCal, a large developer based out of Irvine, was brought into the Coliseum City project this week. Their role isn’t as the project’s master developer, it’s to determine whether the stadium, parking, and ancillary development can all properly fit on the 120-140 acre Coliseum site. Intriguingly, SunCal was brought in by the Raiders and Mark Davis, who have lingering concerns about having enough parking for football games.

SunCal has plenty of experience in the East Bay, having worked previously on Alameda Point before the project drowned in a sea of hubris and red tape. They also resurrected the long dormant Oak Knoll redevelopment plan, which had previously suffered from the depths of the recession.

New City’s Floyd Kephart wanted to make clear that SunCal’s role here is as a consultant:

Presumably, SunCal’s study, which was not a specific requirement for the ENA, will help guide Davis’s decision making process later this year. Just as important, it will probably guide the NFL’s. The league really likes plans with tons of parking, as seen in both the Inglewood and Carson plans. The hypothetical, then, is what if SunCal comes back with a larger parking requirement than is prescribed in Coliseum City? Of the 13,000 spaces programmed into the project, only 4,200 are surface parking (good for tailgating and buses). Everything else is in a garage, which when Lew Wolff mentioned the difficulty with garages, he got hammered. I wonder what will happen when the Raiders want more surface parking for their stadium.

Sure, there is BART, which according to the Raiders currently serves 30% of fans. You still need, well, 13-15,000 spaces for everyone else. And we have no idea whether SunCal’s study will include a baseball stadium.

SunCal could also find the project attractive enough to become the master developer, which would be a huge positive. Unlike Alameda, where SunCal is persona non grata, they don’t have a poisoned relationship with Oakland. They could be exactly what Coliseum City needs, though it’s clear they are acting in a thoroughly noncommittal role at the moment.

When I first heard the news I was surprised that it hadn’t gotten out at the beginning of the week, as the NFL owners meetings started. Then I saw SunCal’s limited role and it made more sense. If they express more interest in May, then it’s something for Kephart and Oakland to hang their hats on.

Alameda County approves ENA, draws line in sand at public money

Early during the Board of Supervisors meeting, President Scott Haggerty hinted that the assembled gallery could see how the Supes were going to vote, as they all had roughly the same comments during their part of the discussion. Nate Miley said he was going to vote for the ENA, but didn’t support “wholesale” use of public resources (land, money) for the project. Richard Valle called the project an “opportunity for private investment” before affirming his long-held no public funding stance. Wilma Chan felt the same while talking about community benefits. And Keith Carson considered the ENA a prudent step so that they could find out if the project had legs.

That sentiment of limited public support didn’t begin yesterday. It was brought up in public in December 2013, at the joint discussion between the Supes and Oakland City Council. It’s a topic that City and County haven’t been able to reconcile when County wasn’t part of the ENA. Now that they are equal partners, they’ll have no choice. It’s impossible to undersell the impact of this. County has taken a hard line on this, and it’s hard to see how City or Floyd Kephart’s New City will be able to reconcile it. In other words, it’s a potential showstopper.

The public contribution issue is big enough for the County that at the same meeting they commissioned a $200,000 study by CB Richard Ellis to appraise value of the Coliseum complex, land and buildings. Even that proved divisive:

Why would the County want the appraisal so badly? If the County wants to work from the notion that it could sell the complex at fair market value, it would help to understand what that FMV is. That doesn’t mean that they’d actually sell it at FMV. They could do a deal like San Jose, offering land at a discount provided that there was a certain price based on use. If County trends towards FMV pricing, that may be to force a decision on preventing a land giveaway by the City. While there are no deal terms yet, Coliseum City has long operated from the idea that the value of the land would offset sunk cost items like new infrastructure or writing off the Coliseum’s debt. The money saved by not spending it on land could be funneled towards the football stadium’s funding gap.

parcels

ENA covers ~140 acres of Coliseum area land

 

But if FMV was sought for the land, there’s no redirection of money to the funding gap. How, then, does that gap get addressed? If all three parties are going to have even a rough framework of a deal by the June deadline, they’ll have to come to some serious compromises that satisfy all three. That problem is one of those proverbial above my pay grade type of problem.

Miley made sure to mention his contingency plan of retrofitting the Coliseum instead of building new. While all five Supes approved the ENA, they didn’t express a ton of confidence in the project coming together. Left unsaid was another even more radical option that may prove more viable in time, one that was briefly mentioned in the adult conversation 16 months ago.

What if the City bought out the County?

If the County were leaning in that direction, an appraisal would make even more sense. Then they could start to figure out how to split the property, the remaining debt, and the JPA itself. Divorces are always messy, so don’t expect anything like this to happen as long as talks with Kephart continued. It’s not hard to see Coliseum City’s demise leading to a divorce. After all, if the sports teams are the JPA’s kids, and the kids have all grown up and moved away, what’s left?

Yet another possibility is that the County, which has a good relationship with Lew Wolff, is waiting just like Wolff for Coliseum City to die. Then they can work with the City on ballpark plan at the Coliseum. The no public funding demand would arise yet again, which would scare off many developers – but not Lew Wolff, who is not thinking about developing the Coliseum extensively right now. But that would be at odds with the City, which has grander visions for the Coliseum area than a stadium surrounded by parking.

Going back to the next-six-months-narrative, Friday’s City Council approval had optics that were designed to look good in reporting progress to the NFL. However, the NFL’s LA point man, Eric Grubman, continues to maintain that Oakland is neither “aggressive” nor “specific” about its plans. It’s easy to figure out what he means by “aggressive,” but “specific” appears to be a vaguely coded term. Is that just about Oakland’s desire for a 80,000 dome? That appears to have been put aside in recent weeks, especially by Mayor Schaaf. Does it mean something else? Coliseum City continues to be this amoeba that could contain anywhere from three to zero teams. The next three months are meant to provide some specificity, and the following two months even more fine tuning. The NFL signaled that it may announce or authorize moves during the fall, before the 2015 season ends. That puts Oakland, San Diego, and St. Louis under the gun to resolve their stadium problems, or else become abandoned. Even as it seemed the NFL had lost control of this game of musical chairs, they may have regained it.

Are we having fun yet?