SJ Redevelopment low on funds, Wolff ready to step up

Despite assurances from SJRA officials last month that the agency would have enough funds to take care of the remaining land buys for the Diridon site, it now appears that they are running short. However, even if they do Lew Wolff may be ready to buy the rest of the land, or even the entire site if need be.

“There isn’t a redevelopment agency or city or federal or state government that isn’t in some form of disarray at this point,” Wolff said Thursday of the agency’s struggles.

While he and agency officials both said no details of a possible land purchase by Wolff had been discussed, the team owner pledged: “Whatever issues we run into, we will figure out how to get them done. We will not let anything stand in the way of getting the ballpark done.”

This sets up a number of land acquisition/swap possibilities:

  • It’s possible the A’s could buy the land and give it back to the city. That would set up a situation in which the A’s could pay a discounted lease on the land until the City reimbursed the team.
  • They could also try to buy the existing public parcels and the remaining ones, making the entire thing privately held. There would be a snag if the landowners were unwilling to sell, because a private interest can’t exercise eminent domain as a city can. If the A’s managed to pull this off, it would probably be the biggest political winner, since the perception of a handout by the city, such as it were, would vanish. $20+24 million for a guaranteed electoral victory in March? It’s worth a cost-benefit analysis at the very least.
  • The team could also buy the public parcels, giving SJRA enough cash to buy the remaining parcels and fund the Autumn Parkway project. The land could be given or sold to the agency, with the cash transaction part happening sometime in the distance.

As mayor Chuck Reed said, “There are half a dozen different ways to put together a deal.” The ones listed above are just off the top of my head.

Even with the low funds situation, City officials are putting on a brave face.

“We’re committed as a city to move forward with the stadium, because it’s the most promising economic development project we’ve seen in the last decade,” Councilman Sam Liccardo said.

“I don’t expect the redevelopment agency’s fiscal problems will prevent us from finding a creative solution.”

Offering to help a municipality is not a foreign concept to Wolff. He offered to pay for upgrades to Phoenix Muni, only to get a collective shrug from the city. The Quakes also paid for upgrades to Buck Shaw Stadium in order to make it a (not so) temporary MLS facility.

79 thoughts on “SJ Redevelopment low on funds, Wolff ready to step up

  1. That’s an interesting idea to have the RDA use the proceeds from the sale of the public parcels to help pay for the remaining two pieces. If we ever got to the point where the city had to exercise eminent domain, how long would that take?

  2. Does Wolff really have that kind of money to not only build the stadium but also buy the land? Because so far he hasn’t even been able to scrounge up the 60 million dollars to begin construction on the San Jose Earthquakes stadium despite having the land for that project already.

  3. The agency also has other property it can try to sell to augment their funding. Hopefully, this is just a minor bump on the road to a new park.

  4. @Dan – The Quakes situation is not so much about upfront cost as it is about having enough sponsors inked long term to provide ROI. That’s what the Kaval hiring is for.

    @fc – From what I’ve read, it’s not a long process at all. It’s mostly a matter of determining the fair price for the property(s). Can’t find the link at the moment.

  5. Hmm, LW has to dig in his pocket to help buy some SJ land, because “rich” SJ ain’t so rich. He got burned in Fremont. Will he get burned again if this thing falls apart? Looks like either, a) he’ll have to cut the capacity of Cisco Field down to 27k to make up for the shortfall, or b) not sign Ellis and Crisp.
    MLB doesn’t like owners having to pay for more than they have to for anything, and would rather screw a city over for all the $$ they can.

  6. The San Jose A’s stadium is really looking like it’s going to happen. Why would there this level of activity for something that stands no chance. We know Oakland has nothing to offer.

  7. ML that’s what I thought. Just makes me mad as a Quakes fan to know Wolff has that kind of scratch available and refuses to use it on the soccer team, particularly with how little money is needed for the Quakes proportionally.

  8. MLB owners meeting is coming up soon … this can’t be good for S.J.

    S.J., has presented itself very well up until this point. The other owners are not frat buddies with Selig. They may not believe it gets done. Lew is rich, but Fisher is uber-rich. They could buy that land with ease, if they were inclined.

    Maybe the other owners are impressed with how cheap Lew and Fisher are?
    I know one thing they probably don’t want another Pittsburgh Pirate situation …

    Oakland has been counted out for years… we were destined for Toronto 30 years ago, but remain: The O-A-K-L-A-N-D Athletics!

  9. Oakland will join Montreal as a former MLB city.

  10. David, staying in Oakland guarantees another Pittsburgh Pirate situation, just in an old stadium. MLB won’t let that last for long. If San Jose dies, the A’s in NorCal die. It’s that simple.

  11. Some of these Oakland backers think San Jose losing means Oakland wins. More than likely, San Jose losing means Las Vegas wins. Oakland has already lost. MLB is not going to let the A’s play in the Coliseum in perpetuity and Oakland has nothing to offer as far as a new ballpark.

  12. I think this makes it easier for the A’s to move to SJ. It takes the City money out of the equation: MLB wants a presence in the 10th largest market in the US, and makes it easier to pass the election in March. Lew and Fish has the money. I feel the stadium issue in SJ looks better today than last week.

  13. @pjk – Your right, it doesn’t mean Oakland wins. If San Jose loses it would mean the A’s staying at the coliseum for the time being, and most likely Wolff and Fischer selling the team I would think. Then it all depends on new ownership, and their intentions.

  14. And whoever the new owner is petitions to move the team somewhere else since a new ballpark is Oakland is not feasible.

  15. Well it will be interesting to see what the panel actually thinks, hopefully that will come soon.

  16. ML, Looking down the road a bit, should the March/April ballot measure fail to pass, what are the chances the A’s say “screw it” and proceed to pay for everything (land, ballpark, infrastructure) themselves? Is this something they would even consider?

  17. FC, if the ballot measure fails the stadium doesn’t happen in San Jose. If I’m not mistaken the ballot measure isn’t about whether the city will pitch in the infrastructure costs (as the city can do that without a vote anyway). The vote is whether the citizens of San Jose want a stadium, period, even a privately financed one.

  18. Now if this was $100 million in land costs then one could say this looks bad. In reality it is only around $20 million or so and half the land has already been purchased.

    Oakland lost a long time ago and that is not even a question at this point. Wolff knows that this it for him and he will do anything to get this done in San Jose.

    If San Jose by some miracle loses out because T-Rights then a lawsuit is going to be filed by the City of San Jose with Wolff backing it. At that point why not try to erode the Anti-Trust exemption?

    Wolff may alienate the other owners and BS but they have not helped him out in the least bit. If Wolff is willing to pay $20 million for the last parcels of land why wouldn’t he fund a 1-2 million lawsuit to remove MLB’s unjustified AE??

    If he wins then the Giants are compensated ZERO as they deserve and the A’s move to San Jose. The AE being eroded is a good thing and puts MLB on the same playing field as the NBA, NFL, and NHL.

    Right now Wolff has played his politics correctly and is hoping by “going along” that he will get what he wants from BS and the other owners. Wolff has waited very patiently and if the other owners side with the SF Giants he will get the City of San Jose to sue.

    This is why BS is taking so long as he has to make sure this does not get shot down. Even Neukom knows if MLB loses their AE over this he will be frowned upon as well.

    We shall see what the owners meeting comes up with….

  19. ML’s notes from the SJ EIR Scoping Meeting on 12.16.09

    (Dennis ) Korabiak makes clear that a vote is required for this project, and that the earliest a vote could be taken is November 2010. A “no” vote kills the project.

  20. Yes, I believe there will be a massive lawsuit by SJ if the territorial rights nonsense keeps holding this up.

  21. Will Tony, pjk and Stan (continue) to support the A’s, when they get a new stadium in Oakland?

  22. Absolutely I would. But who will build the new stadium in Oakland? Santa Claus? Wolff doesn’t want to do it because it’s not economically viable. Not likely any other owner would do it, either The city threw in the towel years ago and the supposed ballpark hero, soon-to-be-Mayor Don Perata, already has said he thinks the A’s are gone. There’s not even a place to build the ballpark in Oakland, thanks to Jerry Brown’s “over my dead body” view on a downtown ballpark.

    But there’s good news: Santa Claus will be in town on December 24. Maybe Oakland ballpark backers can get the guy in the big red suit to build the ballpark.

  23. They’ve supported the A’s all these years thus far as have myself and others. If they get a stadium in Oakland great, but I don’t think anyone can see how that will happen. But more power to the city of Oakland if they’re willing to get off their asses and do something.

  24. Even though I’m not crazy about LW, I do kind of feel sorry for him. It’s probably Fisher’s money, but they pissed a bunch away on rather worthless land (in today’s economy) in Fremont; now they may have to pay for parcels in SJ to make Cisco Field a reality; he’s battered in the press, by the fans and in cyberspace; the constant waiting game for the BRC continues and this guy’s not getting any younger; and now potential legal action on all sides that he may have to deal with. You have to ask yourself, is this even worth it? My advice for LW/Fisher: sell to a local group (Piccinini, you still interested after MLB gave you the middle finger?) who’ll keep the team in Oakland and make it happen at one of the sites near JLS, and take the money and retire, and enjoy life.

  25. Why wouldn’t they? I don’t think I have heard anyone on any site say that they would stop supporting the team if they built a new stadium in Oakland.
    I can’t say the same for the other direction.

  26. But they’re not. We have Perata already giving up, another candidate pledging “not one dime” for the A’s, another who wants to build at the Coliseum (DOA project) and then a fourth candidate. Not very promising, is it? A high-crime city that laid off police officers does not have the wherewithal to build this ballpark and private investors don’t want to. They tried in the past but Oakland dismissed their efforts.

  27. Face it: Oakland backers are looking for another Haas ownership: Come in and run the team as a money-losing charity. Not going to happen.

  28. @pjk–I doubt if SJ will sue, but SF and Oakland should if SJ wins out. Schottman showed no interest in Uptown, so it’s not all Jerry’s fault. Schottman hates Oakland too just like Wolff, but preferred a waterfront site. Uh, a viable site is Victory Ct. Cruise by there one day and check it out.

  29. jk, you keep saying Oakland should sue… but on what grounds?

  30. jk- I’m sure Wolff doesn’t need your pity.
    That land in Fremont is not worthless. They’ll just hold onto it. I’m not even what the deal is for that land now that they aren’t building there. Does Cisco get it back? It’s still desirable land, whoever gets it. Paying for parcels in SJ actually might make things easier. As stated above, it means less public money required. I think you’re overstating the “battering” he’s taken. Yes, he’s not getting any younger, but neither are you. Legal action? Nice try. Sell to a local group? Now you’re projecting your wants onto him. There is no guarantee that a ‘local’ group won’t run into the same problems. And guys like Lew Wolff don’t retire. It’s not in their inner workings. They go-go-go so much it’s hard to slow-slow-slow.

  31. Call me crazy, but I like this development. As RM stated, if Wolff/A’s buy the remaining land (or all of it), it completely blows out of the water any “naysayer, NIMBY, no money for billionaires when babies are starving” arguments that may come up against a ballpark initiative. Better yet, I say it means no vote at all! Actually, and I’ve said this before, a vote isn’t technically necessary under the current proposed scheme. But whatever; a vote under today’s scenario would be an uber-landslide in favor! Perhaps (and this is wishful thinking), Cisco will up the ante on naming rights (do I hear $200 mil over 30!) and other SV companies will “buy” other areas of the ballpark; thus making Wolff’s/A’s private investment in the ballpark even less.

    I’ve been to many A’s games as an “Oakland A’s” fan, and was a huge supporter of the Uptown plan back in the day. Alas, we are where we are today because the City of Oakland doesn’t give a rats A$$ about their MLB franchise. It’s that simple Brah!

  32. @Dan–collusion.

  33. For once Tony, your squawking on the T-rights issue actually makes sense. Let’s go back to the original text of the ballot measure:

    Should the San Jose Downtown Ballpark and Jobs Measure be approved to authorize, but not require, the use of Redevelopment Agency funds, with no new taxes, to acquire and clear a site for a baseball stadium, fund related off-site improvements, and lease the site for a professional baseball team where the team would pay all on-site construction costs, operation and maintenance costs, generating new tax revenues for City operations?

    Once you take away the “use of RA funds… to acquire and clear a site” then it becomes a matter of budgeting for Autumn Parkway. That wouldn’t require a vote since it’s not specifically for the team, it’s more for the neighborhood.

    This only comes about if the Wolff buys all of the land, not just the remaining $20 million. If any of the rest of the land is purchased by the City, that triggers a referendum. I’m sure there’s an analysis going on within the organization and MLB about this. After all, Selig promised to pay around $1 million just for the special election.

    Also, remember that A’s ownership paid $89 million for the Airport West, a price discounted from $132 million. It’s possible that the A’s could get severely discounted prices for the city-owned parcels.

    However, it really comes down to the issue of the holdout landowners (AT&T and Aegis). If they aren’t interested in negotiating with the A’s or the City, eminent domain would be required, which would trigger a referendum. And there’s no way that would move forward unless both the A’s and City got the green light from MLB.

    @jk-usa – Your dreams of a collusion lawsuit will fall flat. The fact is that the A’s have made efforts to keep the A’s in their designated territory, the East Bay, feeble (or not) attempts in Oakland notwithstanding. That “wasted money in Fremont” that you always like to crow about? That’s straight proof of the effort. Sorry.

  34. David,
    I’ve been an A’s fan for the last 22 years, full season ticketholder for the last 5. In those 22 years, I’ve seen the Coliseum go from one of the better venues for a baseball game, to one of the worst. If a new ballpark gets built in Oakland, why would I stop supporting the team? My loyalty doesn’t depend on whether the team is in Oakland or San Jose. It depends on whether they are in the Bay Area.

  35. @ML–yes, that bad plan/effort in Fremont was technically still in their territory, but the A’s wanted to dump the name Oakland and make it as close to a SV team as possible. “And now your starting line-up for your Silicon Valley A’s of Fremont”. THE STUPIDEST NAME OF ANY SPORTS TEAM EVER!!!! I cringe even thinking about it. Yeah, where they play, what they’re called and logos/uni’s mean a lot to some people.

  36. LOL @ Oakland backers…pipedreams ftw!

  37. @jk-usa – So the Oakland and/or SF would sue because of the city name on the team? Do you even think these comments out?

    @ML–this ST should be tossed for being the jerk he is.
    For the others, click on ST’s green ST and you’ll see what I mean. Do it quick before he changes it. If you missed it, it reads:

  39. @ML–comon, that’s only part of it. You can just add up all the things for the last 15 years and you”ll have a case.

  40. Funny how the San Jose backers would still be A’s fans if the team stayed in Oakland but the Oakland backers will desert if the team moves a whole 25 miles down 880 to San Jose. Like i said – maybe Southwest Airlines can run San Jose-Oakland flights on game days.

  41. @pjk – The A’s have been in Oakland since 1968, why would fans from a city that’s never had them all of a sudden not support them? Just because they couldn’t get them to move to their backyard? That just doesn’t compare.

  42. @jk-usa – No, you wouldn’t have a case other than some emotional bleating about city victimization. Can you fault Schott/Hofmann or Wolff/Fisher for looking south because the money’s there – the money they’d need to privately fund a ballpark? No you can’t. Were they dicks for wanting to relegate Oakland to the scrap heap? Yes. But you can’t sue someone just for being a dick. A so-called “collusion” trial will rest on what the perception is of the A’s effort was to make it work in Oakland. While it may have been minimal, it was still something, and that’s all that counts.

    I honestly don’t care about what ST does with his “name” as long as he doesn’t call you or anyone else names in it. There’s nothing derogatory about that.

  43. What if Wolff were to do a land swap with Aegis and AT&T using his parcels in Fremont? Could that be in the list of creative ideas?

  44. Oakland has many problems. Hell, most cities have problems these days. But really, there is plenty of money in Oakland. SJ is also, Campbell, Saratoga, Sunnyvale, etc. .. well Oakland is also Orinda, Piedmont Berkeley, Alameda, etc. There is money. But we aren’t foolish with it. Schottman and LewFish have really not put much effort in building or maintaining a fan base. Its all a plan. I get it. I just don’t think its going to work. Remember, this is Bud “lets make the all-star game a tie” Selig, we are talking about. That guy hasn’t done anything “right”. Only a fool would their faith in him. Sorry if i offended anyone with my earlier question.

  45. @ML–gee, thanks for the help. You know this guys a jerk and he teases me constantly. That’s not too cool. We all have our opinions and the like, but I don’t pick on anyone here, except maybe LW at times. I don’t rip SJ anymore on here. It’s a fine burb of a million folks, the 10th largest city in the US with one of the highest family incomes.

  46. Testy, testy today… Pro Oakland guys, does anyone actually know what Oakland is doing proactively? I went to Let’s Go Oakland facebook and it is all bunch of people celebrating that San Jose can’t buy the parcels (ignoring that Wolff says he will buy them). What is it that Oakland is doing to take advantage of this? Anyone know?

  47. @jk-usa – You do have a tendency to troll, which means more work for me I as have to read and filter all of the responses. Take as you dish out.

  48. Like I said, Oakland backers either can’t comprehend or don’t care that San Jose losing more likely means the A’s out of the Bay Area, rather than stuck forever in a football stadium in Oakland.

  49. I agreed with you on that point. But if San Jose falls through, the A’s will stay in the coliseum until a solution is found. Out of the bay? Maybe. We don’t know. Anything is possible.

  50. @jeffrey – Even the OAFC folks have properly picked up the lede. Apparently the commenters at Let’s Go Oakland can’t be bothered to actually read the article.

    @pjk – No it’s not. Vegas hasn’t even left the clubhouse yet.

  51. Las Vegas is in the on-deck circle already….

  52. ML: Let’s just say Las Vegas is waiting in the wings to try to get the A’s if San Jose is blocked.

  53. If “LOL @ Oakland backers…pipedreams ftw!” isn’t a troll comment I don’t know what is.

  54. @ML–you did take out 2 of my posts the other day and I wondered why. I was just adding a little harmless humor on when the big decision will be and I didn’t mock or hurt anyone. We need to lighten things up a bit on here at times, but ST’s fine mocking me? Okay, fine. I know where i stand on here and it’s not very good.
    @Ralph-I don’t have too many friends on here, so if you want to chat A’s stuff, maybe we can e-mail.

  55. I agree with jeffery, there is nothing going on on Oakland side, just the facebook thing. Nothing is going to change for Oakland unless its leaders become more proactive with a plan, money and direction.

  56. @jk-usa – It might be because you passive-aggressively called me out, eh? Stop playing the victim here. I’ve had to strike down more far more anti-Oakland comments than anything else here. If you don’t like the way I moderate the place, the door’s wide open. You know, the one you’ve already walked out of once (or twice).

    @pjk – Vegas isn’t anywhere close to ready, and it has fundamental issues that are just as bad if not worse than what Oakland and San Jose have to deal with.

  57. Sure jk-usa what is it?

  58. The winter meeting will be very interesting. Schott tried the same “scare tactic” game that Lew/Fish is playing. Been there, done that.

  59. @David – Wolff has said in at least one recent interview that if SJ fails, he’ll have to go back to Oakland.

  60. David, what scare tactic are you refering too? I am hoping the owners meetings involve the panels rec. Then there will be nommore of this back and forth garbage about there’s the A’s will play.

  61. @Ralph–drop me a line whenever at: There’s a few things i’d like to share with you.
    @ML–i dropped out only once. Passive -aggressively called you out? I don’t think so. Please e-mail me at above address on what i said. I know you ripped me with a few unkind words that i was kind of shocked to hear.
    I’ve also heard Wolff say if SJ fails, they may leave the area altogether.

  62. Caught Mark Purdy on Fitz & Brooks. He said Wolff met with BS 2 or 3 week ago. He came out of the meeting feeling confident MLB will rule in favor of San Jose. Also said the word he’s hearing is that the panel is only focused on San Jose, not really considering Oakland. He believes the issue will be taken up at the owner’s meeting.

  63. jk- lol, are you happy now that my cached experiment from last time is now offline and doesn’t offend you? /sheesh oakland guys are soooo friggin sensitive, my gawd.

    ralph – your rationale for oakland mimics whats been done for the last decade plus….nothing. merely accepting the status quo is not acceptable anymore, unless you want to continually be in the shadows of the gnats.

    pjk – i think san antonio is more likely than vegas.

  64. BTW, big thumgs up to Fitz for initializing the discussion, especially considering all the Giants hoopla going on.

  65. fitz is pretty good on air except when he’s dealing with the w’s. that’s where his true annoying homerism comes out.

    he’s always given the a’s some respect unlike many other hosts on 680 over the years.

    again he’s one of the few who thinks the a’s SHOULD move down to sj.

  66. R.M.,
    You mean to say I never made sense in the past? I’m hurt brah! Just kidding ;o) (LOL!).
    Did anyone mention to Wolff or Purdy the mysterious “contract” between Fisher and Baer? (do I have jokes today or what!).

  67. re: fitz, i hate him as a warriors homer, but wow, if that’s true that he actually discussed it on KNBR, kudos to him!

    re: SJ end game. If all the news i’ve read in the past month adds up, i can see the final sprint for SJ being:

    – November: Don Peralta wins as Oakland Mayor. Renounces any plans for the A’s to stay.
    – December: BRC recommends the A’s to SJ after 2011 (more on this later). Owner’s take a vote with it passing renounce the TR.
    – January ’11: SF bonds for the Giants expires leaving little precedent for SF to sue the A’s or SJ. Oakland considers suing but then remembers that the A’s won a lawsuit against them for Mt. Davis.
    – February: SJ announces news to sell the stadium parcels of land to LW and concurrently says that a referendum is now not required.
    – March: Ground breaking ceremony for the downtown site.

    Sure, it’s being optimistic, but at least it isn’t the pipedream that is a new Oakland baseball stadium.

  68. @ST – You clearly misinterpreted what I was saying. Im not happy with the status quo, I don’t want the A’s to stay at the coliseum forever. I’m saying if San Jose falls through they are going to be at the coliseum none the less and a new solution will have to be found, but who knows what that would be at that point.

  69. @jk-usa – Those comments have already been deleted. Besides, I’ve already spent a disproportionate time dealing with your comments and the after effects. I have no interest in spending more time than is minimally necessary.

    @all – Carney Lansford was just hired as the Rockies’ new hitting coach. There goes my idea of Lansford as stadium campaigner.

  70. @ML–fair enough. You’re a verybusy guy with this site. I wouldn’t waste time on me either.
    @ST–what if Quan wins, who’s a big supporter for VC? Perata has a small lead over her, but not the 50% majority needed, so then they add 2nd and then 3rd place votes from the losing candidates until someone gets the 50%.

  71. carney felt a bit uncomfortable in the camera, probably would get better over time but who does that leave now to be alongside a bach, morrison and brazil? shooty?

  72. Take it from a Las Vegas resident: Las Vegas isn’t happening now, or ever, for anyone, much less the A’s. Just because the mayor wants a major sports franchise doesn’t mean squat. If you think someone would build a half-billion dollar facility in a town with plummeting business volumes/real estate values and spiraling unemployment that competes with the town’s principal industry for disposable income . . . well, l can now ignore your posts because I know I’m not missing anything based in rational thinking.

  73. Maybe Chavez will retire and take the job. I thought he was good on the MLB network, thought not as good as Braden.

  74. @ letsgoas

    Shooty sports some slick suits. He could carry the Pre and Postgame shows solo cold chillin’.

  75. The A’s could use Baylor as DH.

  76. @ML

    But Jack Cust would sue Bob Geren and Billy Beane for collusion. Duh.


    Have a great weekend, everyone.

  77. @Briggs–you and the rest have a great weekend too. Go Philly’s!! Go Raiders!! (Got a few bucks on the R’s, getting 6 1/2 points. Money in the bank on this one!!)

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