Alameda County meets with group selling Coliseum City alternative

If you haven’t been aware before, the City of Oakland has an ENA (Exclusive Negotiating Agreement) with the principals behind Coliseum City. That includes newcomer New City Development, headed by Floyd Kephart, local architects JRDV, and Colony Capital (to some diminished extent). The ENA would also extend to any teams signing on to the plan, if the Raiders or A’s were interested. So far, neither has gotten on board. Nor has the Warriors, whose sights are set on San Francisco.

Now comes word that a group called O3 Capital is pushing its own plan to redevelop the Coliseum area. O3’s plan would include three new venues for football, baseball, and basketball, along with an unusual twist – a new terminal at Oakland International Airport. It’s unclear why specifically a airport terminal would be involved, but such an inclusion would make an already complex project significantly more complicated. My guess is that O3 would want a cut of revenues coming from running the airport and the sports venues. That would cut into the operations of the Port of Oakland, which oversees more than 70,000 jobs at the airport and the seaport.

It’s also worth questioning the viability of a third terminal. The airport has lost both United and American over the past several years, becoming more reliant on its status as a low-cost alternative to SFO as well as FedEx’s hub operations. It makes little sense for a third terminal to be built, especially after an expansion for Terminal 2 was already undertaken to satisfy Southwest Airlines’ growth at the airport.

Regardless, Alameda County Supervisor and JPA Board President Nate Miley appears willing to hear O3’s plans and others out. O3 head Tarik Hasan is unwilling to show his plans unless the ENA for Coliseum City expires, which would presumably allow for an open bidding process. With nearly $5 million spent on studies, reopening bidding might look to some like following up on a waste of effort and money, putting Coliseum redevelopment back at square one. It could also be said that the lack of progress made by the various groups associated with Coliseum City have simply shone a light on the fact that Coliseum City is too difficult to make work, so starting over is the next best step. Start over or allow for an extension and hope it works out? That should be decided this Tuesday.

Another thing I’m more interested in is whether others echo Miley’s sentiments on the project, especially within Alameda County. Over a year ago the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors finally had a full, lengthy discussion about the project and its prospects. The Supes weren’t nearly as sanguine about Coliseum City as the Council was, given their more pointed questions and statements. There hasn’t been a similar session ever since, and I doubt that the Supes have since gained religion on the project with its struggles. The easiest thing for Oakland to do is the extend the ENA, effectively punting on the project for however many months. Inevitably some hard questions will need to be answered, and the Council will have to decide whether to fish or cut bait. Floyd Kephart has a hell of a sell job to make this week.

From Now Through Opening Day

With the MLB-San Jose legal battle out of the way (for now), we can turn our attention back towards Oakland, where most of the news over the last two years has originated.

January 20 – Tuesday is the deadline for the Coliseum City three-month extension, granted to Floyd Kephart’s New City Development group when they took over the project. The Oakland City Council will take up the matter in the afternoon’s closed session. During the evening open session the Council is expected to report on Coliseum City’s progress.


Agenda item for 1/20 City Council meeting

If everything goes as expected, Kephart will get another extension of 3, 6, or 9 months so that he can try to rope the Raiders. The Raiders will probably be given another one-year lease extension, since Coliseum City is not yet a finished product and the Raiders have nowhere else to go for 2015. Mark Davis wants to retain maximum flexibility for his franchise, so a multiyear deal seems out of the question. Meanwhile, the A’s and Lew Wolff will be patiently waiting on the sidelines for Coliseum City to work itself out, wanting no part of the project.

February 8 – On Sunday comes FanFest. It’s worth going just to get acquainted with all of the A’s new players. If there’s a concurrent BlogFest event, there’ll be a post about it. Tickets are $10, and as usual you can expect a sellout.

On a personal note, this year’s FanFest will mark the first one since it came back that won’t be held on the same date as the Double IPA Festival, held at The Bistro in Hayward as part of SF Beer Week. Looking back, the doubleheader was truly my favorite day of the year. DIPA will be held the previous day, February 7 (Giants FanFest day). I may be draggin’ a bit during FanFest.

February 19 – Pitchers and Catchers report to Mesa, AZ. They’ll be at Fitch Park, as the renovated facility in Mesa has replaced Papago Park in Phoenix.


March 3 – Spring Training Opening Day is a home game at Hohokam Stadium vs. the Giants. You might want to get your tickets in advance, or else the Giants fans will snatch them up. If you want to catch two games during a weekend, come to Phoenix the following weekend, March 7-8.


March 13-14 – Want a different scene from laid back Arizona? The A’s and Cubs are playing a pair of spring training games at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Yes, you can relive all the splendor that was the start of the 1996 season, then hit the craps tables and buffets.


April 6 – Opening Day at the Coliseum. We’ll see if Billy and Bob can work their magic again.


Get comfortable, folks. We’re gonna be here a while.


Ninth Circuit upholds MLB’s antitrust exemption in San Jose case

We’ve been waiting for the Ninth Circuit’s ruling for a few months now, though we had an idea how it would turn out. From Nathaniel Grow:


Looks like Joe Cotchett will get his wish of filing with the Supreme Court.

The opinion is available here. More on the case can be found in the first legal link to the right.

Lew Wolff chimed in from Phoenix, where Bud Selig was given the title Commissioner Emeritus as part of his sendoff.

New commissioner Rob Manfred also had a comment.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said shortly after the opinion’s release that he wants to take this up to the Supreme Court. The pressure, it would seem, is on him to “play nice” with Manfred and MLB by dropping the lawsuit.

The Merc’s Howard Mintz has a full writeup, including comments from Grow.

Liccardo’s office released the following statement:

When the City Council decided to pursue this lawsuit, we knew that success would likely require a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, because only the Supreme Court can revisit its century-old decision that created an anti-trust exemption that no American industry other than Major League Baseball enjoys.   San Jose should be allowed to compete with other cities for major league teams, and I expect the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the nation’s fundamental predisposition toward fair and free competition. 

Since taxpayers do not have to foot the bill for this litigation, San Jose has nothing but upside to continue to pursue this to the Supreme Court, as a successful result will enable a half-billion dollar, privately-financed stadium in the heart of our city.  A privately-funded stadium would also bring millions of dollars of tax revenues to help our City pay for more police officers, road repairs, libraries, and other critical services.”

St. Louis pitches its own Howard Terminal

An open air stadium.

On cleaned up industrial land.

Close to downtown.

Saves a team from leaving for a richer locale.

Sounds familiar, right? But no, it’s not Oakland’s stillborn Howard Terminal. It’s the brand new, last ditch effort by St. Louis interests to keep football in the Gateway City. The 64,000-seat stadium, ostensibly for the Rams, would sit north of of the Gateway Arch and across I-44 from the team’s current home, the Edward Jones Dome.

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The price tag? $860-985 million (gotta make the estimate a tiny bit less than 10 figures, you know). Half of that cost would be paid for by PSLs, a la Levi’s Stadium. The backers claim no taxes would be needed. And as your eyes roll repeatedly at everything I’m writing, there’s also this: the stadium doesn’t have to be for the Rams. It could be for another team desiring to relocate to the renowned football town known as St. Louis.

An open air stadium in St. Louis would be great. It could also look cool, like Paul Brown Stadium, if the stuffy Cincinnati crowd learned to appreciate a cool piece of modern sports architecture. But the financing is fanciful, the plan is extraordinarily late, and the team owner, Stan Kroenke, hasn’t returned backers’ phone calls this week. At least they can say they tried, right?

Boston wins 2024 US Summer Olympics bid in an upset

As you were with Coliseum City, City of Champions, Farmers Field, Lew Wolff’s Coliseum City alternative, etc.

More from the USOC’s Larry Probst:

Last minute inclusion of new Oakland stadium boosts SF’s Olympic bid

Word came yesterday that the US Olympic Committee was going to select its choice as the bid city for the 2024 Olympics. A month ago, I considered the bid doomed because of its wasteful temporary stadium in Brisbane. Now it looks as if wiser minds have prevailed, as San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf held a conference call today to promote a new wrinkle in the plan: a main stadium for track and field and the opening/closing ceremonies at the Coliseum complex. Phil Matier has the scoop. Though bid presentations were made in mid-December, there was nothing stopping BASOC from amending the proposal to include the new stadium concept.

That concept is eerily similar to what I suggested a month ago. The stadium would be outfitted for the Olympics, but built for the Raiders in the long run. The idea of a “legacy” stadium could significantly boost the Bay Area’s bid, which was hampered by the $350 million, pop-up stadium on the windy stretch of Peninsula south of the ‘Stick. While pop-up stadia are a great idea in principle, in actual practice they haven’t proven to be as versatile or reusable as originally thought, especially in the case of London’s Olympic Stadium. Maybe another decade will bring technology that can make such a concept more efficient, but I wouldn’t pin a bid’s hopes on it. That’s why a stadium that works for both the Olympics and the Raiders makes sense. Atlanta’s Olympic Stadium was transformed into Turner Field, which was perfectly fine for 20 years until the Braves decided they wanted to chase suburban dollars in Cobb County. That shouldn’t be an issue with the Raiders in Oakland.

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The rest of the bid appears to be designed to look as compact as possible given the dearth of major outdoor facilities within SF city limits. It has AT&T Park repurposed for beach volleyball, the W’s SF arena used for gymnastics and basketball (finals, presumably), Aquatic Park for staging many long distance events, and Harding Park for golf. Some of the more debatable choices include Treasure Island for a series of new facilities (BMX, tennis, sailing). While Treasure Island offers a great backdrop for a BMX track, so does the Embarcadero. Stanford’s Taube Family Tennis Center is arguably the best in Northern California and would only need a temporary stadium expansion to be compliant.

Sites in the East and South Bay are not numerous, especially when compared to the 2012 and 2016 bids. Stanford is only listed for the pentathlon, an outdoor event not dependent on a large stadium. SAP Center is the volleyball venue, while Haas Pavilion is a key basketball venue and Oracle Arena is listed for handball (I think these should be reversed). The Coliseum complex was originally going to have the arena and a new velodrome. Having a velodrome, stadium, and arena there creates a nice hub of activity.

Mercury News map shows locations of venues, does not include new Oakland stadium at Coliseum

Mercury News map shows locations of venues, does not include new Oakland stadium at Coliseum

A hub-based plan is what Los Angeles is going for. Leaning on its previous Olympic experience, LA could be considered the favorite if the chief criteria is efficiency. The compactness of the bid belies LA’s reputation for sprawl, with most of the venues within 10-15 miles of each other. To achieve that compactness even Orange County has been cut out of the bid. Somehow the LA River will be a “feature” of the bid, which could give rise to the least photogenic Olympics ever (Beijing’s smoggy skies providing stiff competition).

Hubs were a feature of Bay Area’s previous bids, but with Stanford 30 miles away from downtown SF, the Bay Area’s hubs were going to be too far flung. Eventually, if the Bay Area bid beats out the others, BASOC and USOC will have to consider better utilizing Stanford and Cal to contain costs. In Matier’s report he suggests that the two West Coast cities lead the pack. Boston has many geographical advantages and is the most compact city, but it lacks many major venues and may be considered too small to make it work. Washington’s bid depends its own Olympic-NFL stadium, replacing RFK Stadium and allowing their NFL team to come back from the Maryland suburbs. Washington has the worst weather, and is dragged down by its perception abroad. SF may be the golden child in terms of image, and is certainly the prettiest locale of the four.

Later today the USOC will meet in a conference room inside Denver International Airport’s terminal. After the decision is made the committee will announce the decision and fly out to the winning city for a press conference. The list of cities on the 2024 Summer Olympics Wikipedia page is not all that impressive despite the name recognition, so 2024 is as good a chance for the US to win as any in the last decade or so. The final selection by the IOC will take place in 2017, so the winner tomorrow will have a lot of time to work with the USOC on fine-tuning its submission.

P.S. – If SF is chosen, and the Raiders sign on to a NFL-Olympics stadium at the Coliseum, chances are that the A’s would be gone. It’d be difficult to have a new stadium, the existing arena, a cycling velodrome, and a new ballpark at the Complex. It’s simply too crowded. Making the parking situation work while supporting several years of construction over multiple phases is a bit much to ask of “permanent” tenants like the pro sports teams.

P.P.S. – There are a number of political and infrastructural issues to tackle should SF get the nod. I’m hesitant to write anything about that stuff until a bid is chosen.

Happy New Year! Stan Kroenke and Inglewood have an LA stadium plan

Update 10:50 AM: The NFL released a statement that doesn’t actually address Kroenke or Hollywood Park, at least not until 2016. From league spokesman Brian McCarthy:

“No team has applied for relocation and there will be no team relocations for the 2015 season. We are committed to working towards having franchises that are strong and successful in their existing markets. Any decision on relocation in 2016 or later is subject to approval by the 32 clubs.  An affirmative vote by 24 of 32 clubs (three-fourths) is required.”

Overhead of plan:

New Hollywood Park plan with football stadium

New Hollywood Park plan with football stadium

The LA Times’ Sam Farmer and Roger Vincent have a bombshell to start your week: Rams owner Stan Kroenke is partnering with the capital and master developer behind Hollywood Park to add an 80,000-seat football stadium to the current plans.

Artist rendering of Inglewood’s City of Champions project, with NFL stadium in background

SF-based Wilson Meany is the development partner (think of JRDV for Coliseum City), with plans already in the works. Adding Kroenke’s recently acquired 60 acres to the adjacent 238 acres brings to total development to nearly 300 acres, a massive complex of easily redevelopable land, 50% more than the refocused vision in Oakland. Wilson Meany already has experience redeveloping a race track, having redone Bay Meadows in phases going back a decade. Bay Meadows is a much smaller site than Hollywood Park at 83.5 acres.

Stockbridge Capital, also based in SF, is a large real estate investment that often sinks its teeth into large projects. Stockbridge bankrolled Bay Meadows, hotels in Las Vegas, and more staid assets like office parks throughout the country. It’s a bit ironic that two SF companies are partnering on Hollywood Park, whereas a consortium of mostly SoCal interests are behind Coliseum City.

Kroenke's land is between the Forum (upper left corner) and the large race track.

Kroenke’s land is between the Forum (upper left corner) and the large race track. Note plane flying overhead.

Anyone who reads this site is well aware of the Rams’ current situation in St. Louis. The football team beat the operator of the Edward Jones Dome (a public authority), which entitles the Rams to $700 million in improvements – or a completely new stadium if renovation doesn’t make sense. This was thanks to perhaps the most team-friendly lease in pro sports. A package of renovations was not approved by the City, putting the Rams into a year-to-year lease with no penalty for leaving. As the rumor mill of teams escaping to LA heated up, St. Louis civic and business interests including a former Anheuser-Busch exec put together preliminary plans for a stadium near the Gateway Arch along the Mississippi River. Financing is unclear, with another decade of debt still remaining on the existing Dome in addition to new stadium debt (sound familiar?). Chances are that the State of Missouri will have to be involved in the same manner they’re involved currently, to the tune of a $12 million annual subsidy. St. Louis, meet Oakland. Create a support group.

Teams still won’t apply to move for 2015, as Roger Goodell is pulling the strings here. Instead, this move and maybe another by AEG down the road will ratchet up pressure on St. Louis, Oakland, and San Diego to deliver stadium deals in short order. Inglewood intends to put full Hollywood Park plan before voters this November. Having rejected the Chargers’ desire for a downtown stadium near the convention center and Petco Park, San Diego has a tall order to come up with a satisfactory plan for all parties before the calendar turns to 2016. It’ll be interesting to see how Rams ticket sales are affected by this announcement, since it’s Kroenke, not some third party, doing it.

The Raiders’ lease at the Coliseum has already expired, and the team has given indications that it wants a new short-term deal. Mark Davis prefers a repeat of the previous lease, a 1-year deal that forgoes previously-desired stadium revenue streams in favor of maximum flexibility. Knowing that and the ticking clock, will Oakland put up much of a fight as it did in last summer’s drawn out negotiations with the A’s? It seems unlikely. Oakland has precious little leverage at the moment, especially as it tries to work on plans with both the Raiders and A’s, football team in the driver’s seat.

With the Inglewood announcement, the NFL’s grand plan comes into clearer view. The league has been very hands-off with the teams and cities over the last 1-2 years, allowing their respective political processes to play out. Rules required teams to make good-faith efforts towards new stadia in incumbent markets, all done in various ways for all three teams. St. Louis dared the Rams to go to arbitration and lost badly. San Diego let its convention center’s interest override the Chargers and lost the script on a football stadium. The Raiders stayed involved to a minimal degree with Coliseum City as that project flailed repeatedly. Now the NFL, through its relocation team, can start to hammer cities with demands. If those demands aren’t met, well, hopefully those respective mayors have made the proper political calculations as to what football stadium subsidies mean to their tenures.

2016 has started off with a bang. Meanwhile, Lew Wolff sits back and waits.

P.S. – BTW, if you haven’t kept up on Bay Meadows, it’s not nearly finished. Development was kept on a slow track thanks to the recession and a desire for controlled growth. Phase II is underway.