A’s, JPA ink lease extension

Press release from the JPA:

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority

For Immediate Release

July 3, 2014 Contact: Dan Cohen

Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Reach Agreement with A’s on Ten Year Extension for Team to Stay at O.Co Coliseum site

Terms of deal positive for Oakland taxpayers, sports fans, public entities, and the team

OAKLAND, CA – Today, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority announced that it has reached an agreement with the Oakland Athletics on a ten year lease extension for the team to remain at the O.co Coliseum site through 2024. Terms of the deal, which were shared with Major League Baseball and released earlier this week, include a financial commitment from the A’s for new HD video scoreboards, termination clauses for both parties, and continuation of “good-faith” discussions on a new baseball stadium at the current site. The deal will be finalized after approvals from the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors in July.

“This is truly a fantastic day for Oakland A’s fans, Oakland taxpayers, public entities, and the team,” said Coliseum Authority Chairman Nate Miley, who serves as an Alameda County Supervisor. “By reaching this agreement, both the franchise and the community have charted a course of stability for the next decade and more than doubled the revenue generated from the site. We know that the A’s and their loyal fans will be connected for years to come at the Coliseum site.”

The lease agreement settles all outstanding issues between the Coliseum Authority and the team. Additionally, if progress occurs on the development of a football stadium, the contract ensures that a variety of next steps would be considered to ensure maximum flexibility for both parties.

“This is about more than just a baseball team and a stadium, added Miley. “From early spring until early fall, families and friends head to O.Co Coliseum to spend time together, relax, and have fun. The A’s are part of the fabric of this community and have a rich tradition in Oakland. We’re thrilled to have a deal that ensures these experiences will continue while safeguarding the interests of all Oakland taxpayers. It’s a win-win.”

The Coliseum Authority notes this agreement means that the jobs, recreation, and entertainment the team and O.Co Coliseum provide for Oaklanders will remain an integral part of their lives. Additionally, in 2018, the A’s will celebrate their 50th anniversary in Oakland.

“Oaklanders can celebrate today, knowing that the A’s will continue to play their winning brand of baseball at the Coliseum,” adds Oakland City Councilmember and Vice Mayor Larry Reid, who also serves as Vice-Chair of the Authority. “The agreement makes sense for all parties, for everyone that calls Oakland home, and for every Oakland sports fan. As a city and as a tight-knit community, we are stronger with this deal secured.”

“After much diligence and cooperation from both parties, we are delighted to make this announcement today,” said A’s Owner and Managing Partner Lew Wolff. “We believe this agreement works well for city and county taxpayers, the team, A’s fans and all involved. It provides stability for the A’s while also improving fan and player experience with significant upgrades and improvements at the facility.”

The agreement calls for improvements to the Coliseum over the next ten years, most notably installation of new HD video boards, ribbon boards, and the associated control room equipment by Opening Day 2015. The A’s commit a minimum of $10 million to these improvements and the Coliseum Authority will pay for any necessary structural work and install improved lighting. This is on top of improvements made prior to this season, including new concessionaire and food items, remodeled dugouts, and an updated press box.

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About the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Authority:

The Authority is a public partnership between the City of Oakland and the County of Alameda (owners of the Coliseum Complex) that manages the Complex on behalf of City and County. The Authority subcontracts the day-to-day operations of the Complex to AEG. An eight-member Board of Commissioners governs the Authority. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley currently serves as the Chair of the Board, and Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid serves as the Vice-Chair.

Davis prefers A’s gone from Coliseum after 2015 season

Raiders owner fielded a series of questions from reporters about the Coliseum and new stadium situations yesterday, which led to some revealing answers. Tim Kawakami transcribed the interview and put it into a blog post.

-Q: Would “outs” for both sides–for the Coliseum City/Raiders side and for the A’s side–if either gets another deal… would that make it better?

-DAVIS: No. The A’s lease is up in 2015. If we could come to a deal with Colony Capital to build a football stadium there, we would like to be able to tear that Oakland Coliseum down the minute the 2015 baseball season’s over.

And that would get us into a stadium by 2019, I believe. On that site.

There are a couple of huge takeaways from Davis’s comments. First is that if Coliseum City comes together, he really wants the old stadium to come down. ASAP. For him that’s immediately when the A’s season ends. Nevermind that the A’s lease runs through December, point made. The other is that Davis’s stance clearly explains why he didn’t sign an extension past 2014. He has no intention of having the Raiders play at the Coliseum past this season (the team has an option on the 2015 season).

Davis may not have the best poker hand right now, but he is playing it to its fullest. He acknowledged the $500 million funding gap, which has no clear solution at the moment. He recognized that if the A’s were to be in on Coliseum City, their piece makes his smaller because they’d want to develop on their own terms. And he stated his preference for the Raiders being at the Coliseum complex alone, all while not describing the predicament as Raiders vs. A’s. He knows that the other players have crappy hands too, and is willing to bluff his way to getting what he wants. That hand becomes substantially weaker once Davis signs an extension, defeating the purpose of declaring his 2014 deadline. So chances are, he won’t sign one.

There are a couple other things to keep in mind when discussing Davis’s M.O. Remember that the first thing that opens LA or some other market to Davis is him proving that he tried on a local stadium deal for at least a year. He’s doing that, though in a somewhat unorthodox manner. The less important bottom line matter is that per the terms of the short-term Coliseum lease, if Davis continues to be engaged in Coliseum City talks, he gets the Raiders’ Alameda headquarters rent-free. Funny thing about that – if that $500k was coming in, the JPA could afford to pay off Forest City, extricate them from the plan, and move forward.

As for the A’s, well, you have the 10-year extension being tabled because it would jeopardize the relationship with the Raiders and present a bad deal to taxpayers. Or at least that’s what the talking points say. I wonder if the people behind those talking points are going to address Davis’s desire to evict the A’s after 2015. Wait, no need, right? Howard Terminal will surely be ready by 2016. If you believe that, I also have a bridge to sell you. Or maybe a stupid single-word messaging app.

Bad groundskeeping decision last night forces postponement tonight

For the 2nd time in 4 days, a regular season home game at the Coliseum has been postponed. Unlike Tuesday’s deluge-caused delay, tonight’s game was somehow halted thanks to only 1/3-inch of rain. Why? Because the groundskeeping crew chose to leave the infield tarp off in hopes of drying out the field from the previous week’s rain.

Here’s my understanding of what led up to the postponement:

  • After last night’s extra innings affair, the grounds crew spoke with a weather consultant. They wanted to know if it was safe to leave the infield tarp off, so that the field could dry out a little going into the weekend. The consultant said there was little chance of rain, so they went ahead with this.
  • Late Thursday night (midnight), it started to rain. Again, 1/3-inch fell overnight.
  • When A’s staff arrived this morning, they found the infield waterlogged despite that minimal amount of rain.
  • The grounds crew worked feverishly throughout the day to prep the infield dirt, which was practically mud. Turface (clay) and Diamond Dry (ground corn cobs) absorbent substances were employed to little improvement.
  • Batting practice was cancelled at 4 PM.
  • In anticipation of another brief rainstorm, the tarp was placed on the field. As a result, the field can’t be worked on.
  • When the tarp was removed prior to the game, the field was still in such bad shape that the managers and umpires were concerned about the potential for injury.
  • At 6:30, a 30-minute rain delayed was announced. The original scheduled start time was to be 7:05.
  • The game was called off at 7:20.

Throughout the night, the grounds crew continues to work on the infield to absorb pooled rainwater. There remains a question of whether Saturday’s game can be played on account of the field.

Simply put, the decision to leave the tarp off was utterly boneheaded, especially considering the risk/reward. There was a slight chance of rain, and given the fragile condition of the he field, Clay Wood and his staff shouldn’t have taken such a risk.

Then again, 1/3-inch of rain shouldn’t render an infield unplayable. It’s not much at all. Newer fields with more extensive drainage systems can drain several inches of rain per hour.

However, this is the Coliseum we’re talking about, where the field is 22 feet below sea level and 6 feet below the water table. Gravity doesn’t help. Neither do the tides, which were in between at the time of the postponement. To get rid of the water you have to sop it up or pump it out. An old Chronicle article written during the. Mt. Davis construction explained the difficulty.

It takes at least a day to pump out all the water after a heavy rain.

Another factor may be the freshly laid down sod, only a few weeks old. This year the old standy Bermuda grass has been replaced by Kentucky bluegrass, which may have been chosen for its drought-resistance. If the sod hasn’t fully taken hold, that too would affect field drainage, though obviously not on the dirt portions of the infield.

The game doesn’t yet have a rescheduled date. Players chose not to do another split doubleheader as they did Wednesday, which is their right per the CBA. The game could be made up in May or in the second half of the he season.

This largely preventable incident by an otherwise excellent grounds crew only highlights the deficiencies of the Coliseum, even though this was not a matter of regular stadium maintenance. Regardless, it continues to show the Coliseum in the worst light: unloved, broken, and only used because all the alternatives are too expensive at the moment. I’d like to think that the Coli will catch a break sometime, but that might mean it will actually break.

2014 Coliseum Opening Night thoughts

Some takeaways from walking around the Coliseum tonight:

- Metal detectors at the BART Plaza gates were extremely sensitive, forcing nearly everyone to be wanded. If you’re going to do that, just wand everyone and skip the first step.
- I like the new concessions booths, especially the corn dog/popper stand behind the LF bleachers. Those corn dogs are huge (though not $25 Chase Field huge).
- Craft beer bar at the back of the Bar & Grille (West Side Club) is good despite the high price ($11). Short lines and you don’t have to deal with the lines of people ordering mixed drinks or macro brews at the big bar. Plus you can order the custom pizzas there if you like.
- Most of the new color came from the redone concessions stands. Some had paint, others vinyl coverings. The burrito stand on the Plaza Level looked good.
- I had originally planned to get Field Infield seats this year, but pulled back for the Value Deck. I’m going to play around with the ticket Upgrade feature on the MLB At The Ballpark app throughout the year to see what kinds of options it provides. Tonight’s sellout crowd provides little inventory as you might imagine.
- There remain problems dealing with e-tickets, as not all scanners can handle them, apparently. Worse, I didn’t get my $6 food/merch credit. Not good.

Stadium operations was robbed of a proper “dry run” on Saturday with the cancellation, though I couldn’t tell that service was better or worse with Ovations. That’s something that will have to be judged over time.

Anyone else who attended the game have thoughts?

Book Archive Update

I have a quick update for those of you who have been kind enough to donate. While the book is taking longer than expected, it will be done soon. I’m planning to distribute the book on April 20. That’s right, 4/20, if only to commemorate that I must have been high to think this blog project could have been completed in less than eight years.

Editing and compilation of previous posts has been mostly completed. After some experimentation, I’ve decided to allow the content to flow this way:

  • Intro
  • Chapter (subject)
  • Summary
  • Archived posts in chronological order
  • repeat steps 2-5 for rest of book

The chapters are titled Oakland, San Jose, Fremont, 49ers, Raiders, Warriors, Earthquakes, TV/Radio, and Industry. Each chapter will have an introductory essay, a sort of executive summary for those who want to quickly go over the last decade or so. (Note: these essays are exclusive to the book. They will not be published here.) Then come the posts. When possible, I’ve updated or removed dead links – and there are a lot of them. News summary posts are not included. You may have noticed that I haven’t done a newswrap post in a while. That’s because I’ve decided to let Twitter handle much of that kind of redistribution and reserve this blog for longer form posts.

Graphics will also be included. The book will be distributed in PDF, ePub, and Kindle/Mobi formats in a single .ZIP file. If you donated, I’ll email the book directly to the email address associated with your PayPal account. If you prefer a different email address, let me know. And if you haven’t donated yet, it’s not too late to do so (look to the left sidebar).

Thanks for everyone’s generosity over the past months and years. We’re in a good place to keep the site running for as long as it takes. I think you’ll be equally entertained by my hackery and frustrated by how slowly this saga has gone. Cheers.

State rolls back San Jose ballpark land transfer

Update 7:30 PM – Added link to Controller’s report.

Yesterday we got word that the 49ers and Santa Clara prevailed in its lawsuit to reclaim $40 million in redevelopment funds. Today comes the news that the State of California has ruled that land transfers from the City of San Jose to the Diridon Development Authority were ruled illegal.

The Controller’s ruling on the ballpark land seems to hinge entirely on the fact that the City/RDA didn’t enter into a sale agreement with A’s ownership until November 2011, after the June 28, 2011 cutoff when AB 1X 26 took effect.

The RDA made unallowable asset transfers of $29,137,727 to the San Jose Diridon Development Authority (Authority), a joint powers authority made up of the City and the RDA. All of the property transfers occurred during the period of January 1, 2011, through January 31, 2012 and the assets were not contractually committed to a third party prior to June 28, 2011.

The graf above comes from the 12-page report released today, a draft of which was sent to the City on November 15, 2012 to allow for a response. The City argued that “there is no statutory or legal support” for the 6/28/11 cutoff to no avail. The Controller disregarded this argument and directed the land be turned over to County-appointed Successor Agency, whose oversight board will make the final determination of what to do with the land. City has cutely shortened “Successor Agency” to SARA and for good reason. What does SARA stand for?

Successor Agency to the Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Jose

If the Diridon Development Authority is the “son” of revelopment, SARA is the daughter. What does SARA make of this mess?

Ordering the City to return the assets to the Successor Agency only to have the Oversight Board direct that they be returned to the City is simply form over substance and wastes valuable time, energy and resources to arrive at the same result.

Regardless of what happened with the Controller’s decision (which was expected) the City still feels that the land will end up with the A’s. If they had inked the sale agreement in March 2011 instead of November, the transfers would’ve been in the clear. Now they could sue the State the same way the 49ers did, but since that would be even more costly and the City and County are already working on a proper land disposition agreement, that seems like a terrible idea.

What will happen next? My guess is that the land won’t actually be sold. Instead, the parties will work on a lease agreement that would allow the A’s to build on the public portion of the ballpark site while the A’s buy the rest over time. The alternative is to sell the land for “market value”, with a yield large enough to be approved by the Controller. The purpose of this is two-fold: get a sale so that funds can be sent to the state, and ensure that the land is assessed at a value high enough to get adequate proceeds to the state, county, and schools. Mayor Chuck Reed, who is on the SARA oversight board, released a statement in response to the ruling just a few minutes ago.

I am disappointed in the findings made by the State Controller regarding certain properties transferred from the San Jose Redevelopment Agency to the City of San Jose, San Jose Diridon Development Authority, and City Housing Agency.

The properties transferred to the City include assets that serve a civic or government function, and likely will fall under the government use provisions of the new redevelopment dissolution law and my expectation is that the Oversight Board will make the same findings.

With respect to the Diridon Development Authority properties, the State Controller failed to recognize an Option Agreement validly entered into between the JPA and the Athletics Investment Group. Any transfer of these properties to the Successor Agency would be subject to the contractual rights of the Athletics Investment Group as required under state law.

The City Council and County Supervisors have both made their desire to have a ballpark built on the site known through formal resolutions in the past. My expectation is that we will continue to work together to bring the Athletics to San Jose regardless of the ultimate ownership of the JPA properties.

Coincidentally, an oversight board meeting is scheduled for tomorrow morning at City Hall. While this news came too late to make the meeting agenda, I would expect the matter to be discussed. I’ll attend and report back.

AEG no longer for sale, Leiweke out

There may have been a temblor in SoCal earlier this week, but today’s news coming out of LA is truly earth shattering. Sports and entertainment conglomerate AEG is having its auction halted. An executive shakeup has also occurred, with longtime CEO Tim Leiweke leaving. Owner Phil Anschutz will be “more engaged” in the company, and COO/CFO Dan Beckerman will now take the reins over Leiweke.

With Leiweke leaving, there is no longer a champion for Farmers Field. Beckerman may have been key to expanding the AEG empire to what it is today, but he’s still a bean counter at heart, not a vision guy. Leiweke was the visible champion for many projects, from Staples Center to MLS (in its early years) to Farmer Field. Unless Anschutz gains a newfound desire finish the job of bringing one or more NFL teams to LA, and Beckerman can sign off on the profit-related compromises that may be required to make it happen, Farmers Field is dead.

Beckerman’s first comments after today’s news spun it as if Farmers Field remains a major priority:

“The Company has a number of interesting business opportunities, and the expertise of the management team and our 26,000 employees around the world will allow us to select those prospects that best enhance the Company’s performance. Priority projects going forward include the development of Farmers Field adjacent to our L.A. Live campus and the pursuit of our plan to bring the NFL back to Los Angeles…”

AEG is only positioning in this manner because it’s potentially more valuable with Farmers Field in the portfolio, even if it’s only a fantasy at the moment. If one of the bidders were to come up with the $10+ billion offer to buy AEG, Anschutz would take it in a heartbeat. That’s not what he’s getting offered, so that’s why the company is being pulled off the table.

What does this mean for AEG’s operations at the Coliseum? It’s all status quo for now. When Oakland/Alameda County get around to settling on the scope of Coliseum City, then things could get interesting.

Big fish, small pond (and vice-versa)

USA Today NBA writer Sam Amick has a 2-for-1 today in the form of a solid interview with USC Sports Business Institute’s David Carter prefaced by a recap of the ongoing Seattle-vs.-Sacramento drama. Carter tries to get to the heart of the issue facing NBA owners next month: Is it better to be the 5th team in a larger market (SEA) or the only team in a smaller market (SAC)? Carter doesn’t take sides, instead choosing to lay out the cases for both. He also expanded the discussion to include the implications of trying to build something in California, where public funding for stadia is difficult to attain. The end of the interview has a response that encapsulates the issues in Sacramento and throughout the state so well that I had to quote it here. (Questions come from Amick, answers from Carter)

Q: I’ve been hearing a few things about the public subsidy coming into play with Sacramento’s offer, potentially around $255 million that they would put into the arena, and the idea that the NBA has concern about walking away from that type of public contribution – especially in California – where it’s so tough to get public contributions. If they walk away from it, they lose a blueprint they’d like to use moving forward. Does that pass your smell test?

A: “That’s a great observation. We’ve seen that with not just teams, but teams and venues throughout the state – from San Diego to obviously now Sacramento. The Bay Area is a good example, and LA has been at the center of it. These leagues want to be able to extract public subsidies, and if they don’t do that then it gives other cities the opportunity to point the finger and say, ‘Well they didn’t kick in tax dollars over there, why should we here?

“If it’s a quality, free-standing business that’s going to be competitive in the marketplace, then it should be able to survive on its own. That would be one side of the argument. The other side of the argument, from these owners – and it’s a good one – is that there are a lot of people who are enjoying our product and not paying directly for it. You have a sense of pride in your city, even if you don’t attend a game or you don’t watch too many of them on television. Someone needs to pay for that externality, for that benefit that the community is getting for having this company in town. You could argue that that subsidy is supposed to cover that benefit people are getting from having the team there. Maybe it’s more of theoretical bump than anything else, but it’s fair to say, ‘What’s Green Bay without the Packers?’ That’s truly a sports company town.

“Maybe if it’s an amenity, or if it’s a resource that a lot of people want and can identify with, then maybe people should be paying for someone living vicariously through their product but not paying for it.”

Take that into your weekend. I’m going to refrain from commenting on it for now, as I’d like to see what responses are elicited first.

When you can’t attack the plan, attack the man

This is a good example of the crap I occasionally have to put up with. From the A’s Fan Radio Facebook page:

attack

The most interesting thing about that last AFR broadcast was that at one time the most simultaneous viewers was fewer than 10. At least half of those were readers of this site who were curious about D’Sjon Dixon’s Estuary Park plan. They and I care about the future of the A’s in the Bay Area. Apparently many AFR viewers and listeners (however many there actually are) don’t.

Enjoy the small amount of attention your trolling caused, Keith Salminen.

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Update 3:00 PM – Good to know that Salminen reads the site. They all do even though they hate the viewpoint. If only there were someone from the Oakland-only camp who cared enough to provide thorough information and analysis. Anyway, here’s his latest ranting.

attack2

I don’t quite get his obsession with doing things face-to-face. After all, if he was really that upset before he could’ve come up to me at FanFest, a Save Oakland Sports meeting last year, at a game. If Salminen wants to have a chat over a beer at the West Side Club, I’m down. If not, well, his nonsensical posts will continue to provide comedic fodder for this site.

Back to real news later tonight as I’ll be covering the Sacramento City Council meeting. As you were.