Coliseum City Proposal revealed and it sucks

Try as Floyd Kephart and the City of Oakland tried to keep the Coliseum City proposal away from the public for 20 days, the key summary was revealed by BANG’s Matthew Artz late last night. As you might gather from the action to hide the documents from the public under a confidentiality arrangement, there was plenty to hide and precious little to tout. Kephart’s New City did get the documents to Oakland/Alameda County by the June 21 deadline, which is to be commended (somewhat). Beyond that, the whole thing sucks for a multitude of reasons.

Kephart’s New City Development pitched a $4.2 billion plan, which would include:

  • $900 million Raiders stadium to be owned by team, land underneath to be leased by City to team for $250k per season
  • Sale of public lands (Coliseum and surrounding) to New City for $116 million
  • Proceeds would pay off Mount Davis debt
  • Potential for additional proceeds to fund affordable housing subsidy; if not fully covered, bond issue
  • Land reserved for an A’s ballpark through 2019
  • 4,000 housing units
  • 450,000 square feet of retail, 1.5 million square feet of office/R&D space
  • 400-room hotel
  • $100 million in new infrastructure (BART transit hub, roads), not including…
  • $187 million in parking garages (financed by New City)
  • Stadium and essential infrastructure completed by 2019, hotel by 2020, full buildout by 2022
  • Sale of 20% stake in Raiders to New City for $200 million, half of which goes to into stadium
  • Creation of “Stadium Company” to finance $300 million in debt for stadium (49ers have a similar entity)
  • $500 million from the Raiders and NFL G-4 fund (combined)

The football stadium part of the plan has no magic bullet to cover the $400-500 million funding gap. The NFL and Raiders would their part, probably closer to $400 million. There remains an open question about how likely it is the Raiders would get that $400 million. It’s one thing to award the full $200 million G-4 loan (to be matched by the team) to the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium or the Vikings and Falcons, teams whose projects will certainly host future Super Bowls. The Raiders stadium would be smaller and less capable of hosting a Super Bowl and other big events. Its premium revenue-generating capacity would be much lower than other recently built stadia, which makes me wonder just how well the G-4 loan would be serviced. Chances are that the stadium would qualify for a smaller loan, perhaps closer to the old G-3 cap of $150 million. So when you really start to add it up, it’s much more realistic to expect $350-400 million as the “standard” private contribution from team and league. More than that is rather wishful thinking considering the stadium’s size and scope.

A “Stadium Company” would be created on the private side to manage funneling game revenues towards debt service. Its counterpart would be the Coliseum Authority (JPA) or its successor. If the sides ever got down to real negotiations, the real sticking point would be whether the debt would be issued publicly (tax free) or privately (taxed). On one page the Raiders are said to own the stadium, on another they lease the stadium. The model is similar to what the 49ers created for Levi’s, which means that the same questions would arise during the period leading up to the stadium’s opening. Can the Raiders and the various entities sell enough sponsorships and get a big enough naming rights deal to cover the gap? Or does this sound too much like Mount Davis?

Ancillary development, which has been already been dismissed by Mark Davis and NFL point man Eric Grubman, is still very much in play here. The worst part about it is that the money the ancillary development will generate won’t go towards paying for the stadium, or for affordable housing. New City would get to reap the rewards, pay a little towards infrastructure, not get saddled with the responsibility of financing affordable housing, and get a piece of the Raiders in the process. Sweet deal, eh? No wonder the NFL has been so averse to having “middle men” like Kephart involved in these deals. It prefers to have Goldman Sachs and big banks there as the established partner financing arms instead of deal makers.

The ballpark gets one whole line in the 19-page document:

Parcel 6 for development of the ballpark will be reserved through January 1, 2019.

In the Specific Plan Parcel 6 is to the right on the other side of 880 from the Coliseum

In the Specific Plan Parcel 6 is to the right on the other side of 880 from the Coliseum

I can’t blame Kephart for reducing the A’s to one line considering how Wolff disregarded him and the project at every turn. If Kephart’s gonna go out, he’ll go out guns-a-blazing. Wolff was never going to take part anyway, so this is at least a modest allowance. Yet what is Parcel 6? We’ll find out more in a couple weeks assuming the documents are released as expected. For now we don’t have an updated site plan. If Parcel 6 is the same one identified in the EIR/Specific Plan, it’s the Hegenberger Gateway shopping center anchored by Walmart and other properties along Hegenberger. How does that get repurposed for a ballpark? I’ll let you know when BART builds an Airport Connector station there to service the site, more than a mile away from the Coliseum BART station.

Lastly, there’s the sale of public land. The document cites $116 million as fair market value, though that is entirely dependent on use and density. $116 million is ridiculously cheap, at around $1 million per acre depending on how much is actually used for the ancillary development. Lew Wolff’s Coliseum North plan was derailed because he lowballed local business owners, offering the same value ten years ago. Two weeks ago the City of Oakland pushed through a $5.1 million sale of one acre on East 12th Street overlooking Lake Merritt for housing, with the developer agreeing to provide $8 million towards affordable housing elsewhere. City Council sessions got so heated that housing activists took over the Council Chambers in the first meeting, followed by the City blocking off public access in subsequent meetings. All that because the process was supposed to dictate that the sale of public land in Oakland mandated use for affordable housing (if housing was the intended use). Now we’re looking at an exponentially larger project in the Coliseum area. How’s that gonna go over?

With the stench this deal is serving up miles away from any actual deliberation over its merits, recent revelations about an exit strategy and a backup plan for City/County should come as no surprise. That’s both good and bad, as the millions spent on Coliseum City will have gone to waste while that backup plan will have only a few months to gestate. That’s a great recipe for a terrible deal, one even worse than New City’s vision Coliseum City. There’s always a renovation concept to fall back upon, and Wolff’s biding his time waiting for CC to collapse. Looks like you’ll be on the clock soon, Lew.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

We all have different opinions about what’s happening with the teams at the Coliseum. One or more will likely leave, maybe one or two stay, maybe everyone leaves or stays. Perhaps the remaining Coliseum debt will be paid off by private interests, maybe not. There are different timelines for each team, different project costs, different levels of financial wherewithal, and differing approaches. And that says nothing about a third party like Floyd Kephart, who has to figure out how to keep a team and make money off the deal, or the City and County, who are scared to death of being ripped off as they were 20 years ago.

Take all of those factors, throw them all into a bowl, mix them up, and see what you get out of it.

Kephart announced that he submitted his June 21 deliverables on time. City/County/JPA will take 20 days to review the documents, and decide after that review whether to continue with the plan as offered by Kephart, with no leaks or public release prior to that date. For me it’s frustrating, but I get their caution. Coliseum City is extraordinarily complex, so due diligence is of the utmost importance.

While I’m certain many behind the Coliseum City effort have been nothing but sincere in their desire to retain teams while revitalizing Oakland, there’s also been an underlying feeling that the whole thing is a stalling tactic. To that end it has worked to an extent. Both the A’s and Raiders could’ve been gone as early as after the 2013 seasons thanks to their short-term leases. Instead the Raiders are in Oakland through at least 2015, and the A’s could be in the Coliseum until 2024. Yet while Oakland treads water, the teams aren’t standing still… actually, they are standing still. The A’s chose to wait this process out in hopes of getting the Coliseum all to themselves, a strategy that Andy Dolich called “intelligent inaction” on YSTL tonight. They pushed for the lease extension last year, and so they have a sort of first-mover advantage because the lease is solid and they have fewer complications than the Raiders. The Raiders could’ve taken a similar approach, but Mark Davis chose to use one-year leases to help spur Oakland – a strategy that hasn’t worked so far. Meanwhile, Davis has given some broad strokes about what he wants:

  • Raiders would buy some of the Coliseum land (for how much and for what purpose aren’t clear)
  • City/County/JPA would provide free infrastructure, costing $100-140 million
  • City/County/JPA would retire Mt. Davis’s debt

There’s still no word on how exactly the funding gap on the stadium would be addressed. I figure that 1 & 2 are related and would offset each other somehow. The Mt.Davis debt has to be added to the total cost of the stadium, as the City and County have been adamant about not subsidizing the old venue more than they have to. Does that make the gap $400 million? $500 or $600 million? Hard to say at this point.

This project has been marked by a series of decisions made on all sides. The teams chose not to negotiate, waiting either for a stadium to fall into Mark Davis’s lap or for the project’s demise. The City chose to partner with three different entities in hopes of finding someone that had the resources and connections to make the project take off. The County chose to sit out for three years, not becoming a party to the talks until this spring.

Ironically the City/County/JPA, the Raiders, and A’s all would benefit if they didn’t have to make choices of their own free will. If the Raiders leave on their own the public sector gets a little political cover, since they can point the finger at Mark Davis for abandoning Oakland. Should the A’s wait and the Raiders put together a stadium deal, the A’s can say that the Raiders caused hardships, forcing the A’s out. And the Raiders can point to either the A’s no-sharing stance or Coliseum City’s expected demise as their own obstacles to staying in Oakland. Even when they don’t actively decide, there are consequences.

Try as they might, the big decisions can’t truly be avoided. Because in multibillion dollar stadium deals just as in life, eventually if they don’t make choices, someone else (NFL, MLB) will make choices for them.

P.S. – At the end of the Dolich segment he expresses amazement at how the City/County/JPA aren’t in direct negotiations with both the Raiders and the A’s. That sentiment is completely understandable if the goal is to wrap up a deal ASAP. The problem is that the teams aren’t on a level playing field. If both had separate stadium projects with similar costs and similarly sized private contributions, working out fair deals for both should be simple. That’s not the case here because of the football stadium’s massive funding gap. If the public sector attempts to make any kind of public contribution (land, infrastructure, direct or indirect funding) for the football stadium, you can be assured that Rob Manfred will ask about the same kind of contribution for the ballpark. He’ll have every right to ask, and he’ll have every right to be severely disappointed if City/County/JPA can’t deliver. That’s the danger in making the deal. 

Manfred visits Oakland, stays on message – with a wrinkle

Before I get into today’s edict from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, let’s first sum up his position on the A’s with regard to a new ballpark.

  1. The A’s need a new ballpark.
  2. Oakland is the city for the A’s.
  3. The Coliseum is the only site under consideration in Oakland.

Okay, now let’s unpack what he said in today’s pregame press conference.

View from east towards Oakland Estuary. Image: JRDV

View from east towards Oakland Estuary. Image: JRDV

Via BANG’s John Hickey:

Speaking before the A’s played the Angels Friday night, Manfred said, ‘With respect to San Jose, all I can say is that we are still involved with really significant litigation, significant enough that it’s in the Supreme Court of the United States. I can’t foresee any movement until at least that litigation is resolved. That litigation has clearly been an impediment to things moving forward.’

At the same time, Manfred all but ruled out the A’s staying in Oakland if the Raiders attempt to build a stadium on the Coliseum site. The Raiders also are considering a move to Southern California, but Manfred suggested that if the NFL team stays, the A’s would have to go.

Another constant has been Manfred’s stance on San Jose. The South Bay city will not be in play as long as the antitrust lawsuit, which SJ city leaders are petitioning to have taken up by the Supreme Court, is still pending. MLB wants that little gnat gone, which should that happen by this fall, immediately brings up another question: What is MLB’s relationship with San Jose once the lawsuit is over? I’ve said all along that MLB is not going to kill San Jose while the A’s long-term fate remains unclear, especially in Oakland. That hunch certainly seems correct.

From the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Kawahara:

Manfred urged that the city of Oakland and Alameda County ‘focus on the need to get something done in respect to baseball — not to the detriment of football, but the need to get something done with baseball.’

‘I’ve said publicly I think it’s absolutely vital to the long-term health of this franchise that the A’s get a new facility,’ Manfred said. ‘It remains my goal, part of baseball’s long-standing policy, that we try to get that stadium built here in Oakland, where the A’s have been and have their fan base.’

There are some within the Oakland-only crowd who have been complaining endlessly about the A’s not providing a proposal to Oakland after the Coliseum City process was “opened up” last fall. Manfred knows this and is likely nudging Lew Wolff and John Fisher to get their ducks in a row. To me the idea of pushing Wolff has never made much sense. Wolff’s bargaining position will be best if the Raiders leave, and the lease gives him plenty of time to wait that out, plus there’s no indicator that he’ll get any financing help from MLB on an Oakland ballpark, so MLB can only dictate so much. Yet there’s a different suggestion that comes straight from Manfred himself, and it may come down to what Coliseum City has represented from the start.

Coliseum City was not originally conceived as a precise plan to keep all three current tenants in town. It was a mostly a plan to convince the Raiders to stay. It had a large, multipurpose domed stadium as its centerpiece. A ballpark was shuffled off to the northeast corner, a developmentally distant Phase B to the football stadium. The existing arena could stay – inadequate as the NBA sees it – or be replaced by a venue on the other side of the Nimitz. That new arena concept has practically disappeared as the scope of the project has shrunk, and while Floyd Kephart and CC proponents are still pitching separate venues for all teams, a distinct possibility is an either-or scenario, baseball or football. To that end Manfred has qualified his plea as “not to the detriment of football,” but he and his counterpart at the NFL, Roger Goodell, know full well what’s at stake. Neither league wants to share, or to put it more diplomatically, neither league wants to step on the other’s toes, which is exactly what would happen if both teams stay while a new venue is constructed.

If anything, Manfred seems to want the same kind of attention given to the A’s by Oakland as the City has given the Raiders. While Manfred strong-armed Oakland into signing the 10-year Coliseum lease last summer, he also did them a favor. Manfred kept the A’s in place for several years to come and enforced the territorial rights issue. If anything, Manfred wants Oakland to submit its own Coliseum-tailored-around-the-A’s plan. It may not be something that Wolff would sign on to, but it would likely curry favor with Manfred, and that tactic could be much more effective within the Lodge than keeping the A’s in their second banana status. Oakland tried to make this play before with Howard Terminal, but the difficulties there made it effectively infeasible, and OWB’s giving up on the site does nothing to discount that widely-held opinion.

From SFGate’s Lev Facher:

‘My information is that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have two facilities on the current Coliseum site,’ Manfred said, indicating that a successful Raiders project could preclude the construction of an adjacent baseball stadium.

‘The A’s folks have been pretty clear that they believe the Coliseum site is the best site for a baseball stadium in Oakland,’ Manfred said.

Manfred’s in Oakland’s corner. That is, until Oakland starts to act in a way that displeases the Lodge. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that picking the Raiders over the A’s at the Coliseum is a sure fire way to get Manfred out of Oakland’s corner and into Wolff’s corner.

Oakland Mayor Schaaf to speak with MLB, NFL commissioners in NYC next week

BANG reported yesterday that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf will meet with the commissioners of MLB and NFL next week, as part of a trip to New York for the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum.

Chances are that she will provide an update on Coliseum City, while explaining to both commissioners that the project is the best chance to keep either team despite misgivings on the part of Lew Wolff and Mark Davis. What the commissioners will probably ask – and this is the challenge for Schaaf – was what happens after Coliseum City. Whether Floyd Kephart some or all of the deliverables expected on June 21 (he won’t be able to provide the biggest, a commitment from a team), Schaaf and the City Council will be under pressure from both leagues to cut bait and start looking at alternatives. Those options are expected to be proposals from Wolff and Davis, though neither has offered one yet.

Let’s be clear about one thing – Schaaf’s talks with Roger Goodell and Rob Manfred will not be negotiating sessions. Neither league is participating in the Coliseum City process, and no other proposals are on the table, so there are no points to negotiate. Schaaf has remained adamant that Oakland can’t incur additional debt in the effort to retain any teams. Council member Noel Gallo took that no-giveaway notion a step further, announcing earlier this week that he’s against selling public land.

The problem is that everyone involved is talking around the problem at this point. Goodall and Manfred should by now be well aware of Schaaf’s no-subsidy stance. The land giveaway idea is practically a moot point. Neither team wants to extensively develop the Coliseum complex, so there’s no point to selling the land or figuring out a way to fund costly infrastructure when none will be built. Coliseum City point man Floyd Kephart keeps plugging away, even though he’s close to achieving persona non grata status in some circles. Manfred indicates that the A’s shouldn’t worry about what’s happening with the Raiders, though the current arrangement has their fates in Oakland intertwined and he knows it. Neither commissioner is going to tell Schaaf to boot the other’s team off the Coliseum property, yet that’s exactly what it will take for something to move forward. And neither is currently offering a solution for any funding gaps (NFL G-4 funds are limited, keeping the A’s on baseball’s revenue sharing plan is a subject for the next CBA talks in 2016).

What can we expect, then? Some words of encouragement. Renewed talk of urgency, moreso on the NFL’s part. The City of Oakland will probably keep its June 21 and August 21 deadlines, since they have little to lose over the next three months. It will be in their best interest to start formulating an exit strategy and plans to accommodate both teams on different sites if they haven’t done so already. That may be why the BANG item mentioned Howard Terminal. Dismissed out of hand from the start and declared dead last year, Howard Terminal is the only available large patch of land outside the Coliseum complex. It remains a difficult site to pull off because of regulatory hurdles and major infrastructure costs, but it’s something. And if someone can figure out how to pay for all of it, it may be viable after all. But who’s going to do that? No one talking in NYC next week will. Neither will either team.

Again, where are we with all of this?

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?

 

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.