No teams + No developer = No deal

BANG reports tonight that Floyd Kephart, who has been leading the effort to keep the struggling Coliseum City project alive, will not meet this weekend’s deadline to deliver a commitment from one of the Coliseum’s teams, namely the Oakland Raiders. Kephart described the situation in a manner we should all be familiar with.

It’s a complicated land situation; it’s a complicated team situation; and it’s a complicated Oakland situation. There is nothing simple here.

Kephart also revealed that he wasn’t ready to name a developer for the project. Whether that means the developer is under wraps or simply doesn’t exist is up to interpretation. Chances are that any developer’s commitment is contingent upon at least one team anchoring the project, which obviously hasn’t happened yet.

The 90-day deadline set in October was already going to be extraordinarily difficult pull off, so at least Kephart deserves credit for coming through on some of the other deliverables, such as necessary reports and studies (which to my knowledge haven’t been made public). The big stuff, however, is what counts. In the end Kephart won’t get credit for merely trying and he knows that. We’re still 31 days from the final deadline, and it’s worth asking whether or not Oakland should continue this process by extending the ENA another 30, 60, or 90 days. It’s unlikely that any potential partner (teams or developers) will suddenly commit just because the calendar flipped a couple pages. The fundamentals are still shaky at best.

The big takeaway is the Kephart revised the plan down to the 200 acres including the Coliseum and other pieces of public and private land immediately surrounding the complex. That makes for a much more feasible project in terms of acquiring and packaging the land, limiting infrastructure costs, and working out the regulatory aspects. The Coliseum City EIR is written so that the entire 800-acre plan area is the full scope, with the “Reduced Alternative” lowering densities within the full project area, not a smaller plan as a 200-acre project would require. It’s unclear if the final draft will include a 200-acre alternative, but it would seem that if Kephart’s plan moves forward such a major refocus would have to occur.

Lew Wolff has consistently said he’s not interested in being part of the project. He’d rather promote his own vision with no third parties (or perhaps his own) attached. If Coliseum City goes away and Wolff’s plan gets traction, the shoe would be on the other foot as the City, JPA, and Wolff would have to figure out how to accommodate the Raiders, as opposed to a Raiders-focused plan trying to accommodate the A’s.

Meanwhile, murmurs have been getting louder that the NFL will punt on LA for 2015. Hope remains in St. Louis for an 11th hour plan to build a new stadium for the Rams, which might give NFL the chance to extend its wait-and-see posture an additional year. The Chargers are staying in San Diego through at least next year. That leaves Oakland.

The Raiders will have to start negotiating a new lease with the JPA in the new year. Mark Davis prefers a single year or at worst a year-to-year arrangement for maximum flexibility. Davis pushed for the 1-year lease because he thought it would further the process at Coliseum City, which hasn’t happened save for the EIR. The JPA and City want a multiyear deal, which I wouldn’t expect Davis to sign. I’ve heard some strange rumors about backup venues Davis is calling about, which frankly is his right. The Raiders face severe limitations on where they can go, or rather, where they are welcome. We’ve already heard about the LA Coliseum and Rose Bowl slamming the door on the Raiders. There are also issues with Bay Area venues:

  • Levi’s Stadium has been ruled out by Davis. Even if he was interested the 49ers would require a multiyear commitment to pay for finishing construction on the second home team locker room.
  • California Memorial Stadium has a contractual ban on NFL games. Any deal to host the Raiders would run into an immediate legal injunction.
  • AT&T Park could host games, but is small and not ideal from a league perspective.
  • Stanford wants no part of the Raiders.
  • The ‘Stick is being dismantled per a development agreement with Lennar.

Even if the league owners got past Jerry Jones’ and Bob McNair’s objections, they wouldn’t approve a short-term stay for the Raiders in San Antonio. They want long-term stability and certainty. That’s also the problem in LA. Dodger Stadium could provide a short-term home, but the NFL and AEG have to work out a very complex deal for whatever team(s) commits. AEG asked for its own 6-month negotiating extension for Farmers Field. Given the complexity of arranging a temporary venue that it doesn’t control along with planning for the new stadium, getting it all done in 6 months is a tall order. That said, the NFL has assigned Eric Grubman to work on LA among other options, so it’s not like the league isn’t controlling what it can. The NFL may punt on LA for now, and punting is something Raiders fans are all too familiar with this year.

As for the A’s – they’re in a good spot. They have a lease that provides security. They’re working on a CC alternative that should be ready to go if Oakland drops CC. They can wait out the Raiders’ and Oakland’s indecisiveness, at least for a while.

 

St. Petersburg City Council votes 5-3 against MOU allowing Rays to explore Tampa

The Rays and St. Petersburg appeared to have a deal in place that would allow the team to look at potential ballpark sites in Tampa for a price. Tonight, St. Pete’s City Council voted against the MOU, 5-3. Both sides of the issue were well argued. In the end the Council believed the City was getting a raw deal, with no assurances that the Rays would continue to work with St. Pete, while also tying up the Tropicana Field site for future development while they stayed there.

For much more complete coverage, go to Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium site.

At this point I’m more interested in next steps by baseball and the Rays. Last week Rays owner Stuart Sternberg indicated that he would sell the team to an owner who would definitely move them out of the region if the Tampa exploration agreement didn’t happen. Now that the Council has rejected the deal, we’ll see if more threats, lawyers, or other tactics come out of the woodwork. I fully expect Rob Manfred, who is no stranger to playing the heavy, to start wielding a large stick aimed at St. Pete toot de suite.

The Rays are still stuck at the Trop for the near future, but it’s easy to see how MLB and Rays ownership (Sternberg or not) could try to test the strength of the Rays’ use agreement (technically not a lease) at the domed stadium.

Somewhat ironically, the Council also approved workshopping a new ballpark study somewhere in the St. Pete city limits. How that happens with the team they just rejected is anyone’s guess.

Chargers elect to stay in San Diego through at least 2015

Late statement from San Diego Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani:

On February 1st of every year since 2007, the Chargers have been eligible to terminate the team’s lease for Qualcomm Stadium. And each year since 2007, the Chargers have announced that the team will not exercise the termination clause and instead continue to work toward a permanent stadium solution in San Diego.

Today, the Chargers are making the same announcement that the team has made each year since 2007: The team will not be exercising the lease termination clause and will keep working to find a publicly acceptable way to build a Super Bowl-quality stadium in San Diego. Calendar year 2015 will constitute the team’s fourteenth year of work on a San Diego stadium solution.

The Chargers aren’t fundamentally closer to a stadium deal now than they were at this time last year. If they had chosen to terminate the lease, they would’ve had to pay $17.6 million to the City of San Diego to leave. Without clear short-term and long-term stadium solutions in LA, it makes some sense to wait especially if real money is at stake. That isn’t the case for the Rams and Raiders, who face no penalties if they leave their current homes.

On Monday, the New York Times reported that the chances of any team moving to LA were dimming. We’re still a couple months from the window officially opening, and if LA interests such as AEG are truly interested, I imagine they’ll take that time to work out a deal with the NFL (and perhaps Dodger Stadium).

What say you, Rams and Raiders?

“The Selig Experience” is coming

Anyone can write an autobiography. Getting a hagiographic museum, however, takes chutzpah.

Brewers announce new fan experience honoring Bud Selig at Miller Park
Attraction will honor the legacy of the Milwaukee Brewers founder

Press Release | December 15, 2014

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Brewers today announced the construction of a new fan experience at Miller Park, a state-of-the-art attraction to honor retiring Commissioner of Baseball and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig.

Known as the “Selig Experience,” the exhibit will be located on Miller Park’s Loge Level in the left field corner. A highlight of the attraction will be a multimedia presentation that tells the story of Selig’s role in saving Major League Baseball in Milwaukee, his successful efforts to bring the Brewers to the city, and his tireless efforts to promote and grow the game in his hometown.

Miller Park already is known as a premiere destination for baseball fans, and the Selig Experience will take that to the next level. It will serve as a year-round attraction, adding another extraordinary enhancement to the overall fan experience.

“Commissioner Selig is the one person who ensured that the city of Milwaukee would continue as a Major League city, even when virtually all others had lost hope,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “We want to mark his legacy with much more than a museum, and we believe the Selig Experience will tell his story in one of the most unique fan attractions in all of sports.”

The exhibition space totals approximately 1,400 square feet, and will include authentic artifacts from Selig’s tenure as the Brewers owner. It will celebrate the fans’ love of the game, as told through the story of the Brewers founder.

The main multimedia show builds to a surprising 3D encounter with the Commissioner himself inside an authentic reproduction of Selig’s County Stadium office, using a technology found in only a handful of exhibits around the world. After the show, Milwaukee fans will be delighted to take a sneak peek into Selig’s office for themselves.

The design and production of the Selig Experience is being led by BRC Imagination Arts, an experience design firm that turns brands into destinations. For more than three decades, its masterful storytellers have been chosen by iconic brands and cultural attractions all over the world to inspire and engage their audiences.

“This exhibit is as much a celebration of the passionate Milwaukee Brewers fans as it is an homage to Commissioner Selig,” said Brad Shelton, Creative Director at BRC Imagination Arts. “We’re telling an emotional story of how the Brewers’ first fan brought professional baseball back to his friends and neighbors. Whether they take a quick tour between innings or spend more time examining every detail, this is an immersive experience that no Brewers fan will forget.”

Selig’s dedication to baseball has paralleled his love of his hometown of Milwaukee. His first significant move as an executive was to return Major League Baseball to Milwaukee in 1970, when he founded the Milwaukee Brewers. In its first decade, the Brewers featured some of the great teams of that era, which eventually led to an American League pennant and World Series appearance in 1982.

During his tenure as Brewers owner, Selig earned United Press International’s 1978 Executive of the Year award, and the franchise was honored with seven “Organization of the Year” awards.

In the 1990s, Selig began his efforts to build a new ballpark in Milwaukee to replace the aging County Stadium, and Miller Park opened for its first season of play in 2001.

“I am humbled that the Brewers will chronicle the remarkable journey of the franchise through a fan experience at Miller Park named in my honor,” said Commissioner Selig. “The story of the Brewers revolves around the great sports fans of Milwaukee and Wisconsin, whose passion drove me to work toward bringing the National Pastime back to my hometown. Given my affinity for history, I believe this exhibit will illustrate the extraordinary sense of community that the Brewers have always inspired.”

Earlier this year, the Brewers also announced that the Club will retire uniform #1 in Selig’s honor, signifying his role as founder of the franchise. The retired number will be displayed in time for Opening Day. Additionally, he was honored with a statue at Miller Park, which was unveiled on August 24, 2010.

Uihlein-Wilson Architects is also contributing to the initial design of the space for the Selig Experience.

I look forward to the special “Blue Ribbon Commissions” exhibit. It will disappear for months on end, and when it appears you won’t be able to see its contents. Also – the statue of Selig outside isn’t enough?

For Davis it’s all about #1

Mark Davis explained where he stands vis-à-vis the A’s now and into the future during an interview with Tim Kawakami.

As I’ve said, I’m not against the A’s, I’m not for the A’s, I (sic) just for whatever’s best for our organization.

I don’t think anything else needs to be added here.

JPA board looks for new exec director candidates as Houston is voted down

A vote on former Assemblyman and Dublin mayor Guy Houston’s candidacy for the vacant JPA executive director position was postponed last month. The vote was finally taken yesterday and, as expected, Houston was rejected. Reasoning mostly centered on Houston’s anti-labor stances, with many eyebrows raised at fraud charges levied at Houston a few years back. Robert Bobb’s consultancy is on board with the JPA, leaving a rather gaping hole in the org chart below.

Org chart supplied by The Robert Bobb Group

Org chart supplied by The Robert Bobb Group

The job may go to former Rose Bowl head Scott McKibben, or someone else willing to slum for the measly quarter of a million the JPA will pay to whoever accepts the position. Regardless of candidate, the job should be filled in the next few months if the JPA is going to start negotiating with New City, Lew Wolff, or others looking to develop the Coliseum. It’s no small task.

Stand For San Jose lawsuit returns

In August I posted a note about the Stand for San Jose-vs-City of San Jose lawsuit. The lawsuit, which was actually the product of two consolidated cases, had been disposed in late July. No explanation was given as to why, though the timing was curious.

On Friday Stand for San Jose filed yet another suit against the City. Fangraphs’ Nathaniel Grow has more:

Curious indeed. SFSJ drops the suit after the A’s sign their 10-year lease at the Coliseum, then objects to the option agreement and files suit thereafter. I’m certain there’s no coincidence. Brent Mann followed up with a couple tweets:

We knew about the blood ties with Pillsbury, but a SF PR firm too? Couldn’t source locally, eh? That’s so Giants.

It should be abundantly clear by the ties to the Giants, along with SFSJ’s actions always happening on the heels of what the A’s do, that S4SJ has about as much legitimate interest in San Jose as the Giants do. With SFSJ’s use of Giants fans to prop up the lawsuit and the Giants’ sage advice to Jean Quan in trying to push for a waterfront ballpark in Oakland, this legal battle has become a complete farce. And if the A’s sign a deal to develop a ballpark at the Coliseum, any bets on how quickly this lawsuit will also evaporate?

All hail the SF Giants, great guardians of the welfare of San Jose.