Put up or…

‘Tis the season to put up or shut up. We have a few examples at our disposal.

Robert Gammon reports that Oakland’s CEDA committee will examine the financing proposal for the $750,000 Victory Court ballpark EIR. The meeting is next Tuesday at 1:30 PM @ Oakland City Hall. If it is approved in committee, the City Council will vote on it the following Tuesday, December 21. There are three choices going forward:

  • Choose not to pay for the study. Gammon expects that the only dissenter on the committee will be Ignacio De La Fuente, with IDLF and Nancy Nadel the two members of the City Council who are opposed.
  • Authorize $350k for the initial traffic study. A complete traffic study hasn’t been completed in the JLS area for a decade, so the information could prove valuable for any number of future projects, including a ballpark.
  • Authorize all $750k. This should cover the complete EIR, including the traffic study.

LSA Associates, the Berkeley firm that did EIR work for both the Fremont and San Jose ballpark proposals, is doing this one as well if approved. Traffic study work is usually farmed out to a different set of consultants, that’s why it can be separated out.

In the unlikely event that either the CEDA committee or the City Council voted against the study funding, the message to MLB would be in effect a white flag. They could just authorize the traffic study and either wait until MLB renders a decision or ask MLB for some funding help. Previously I wrote that the latter was a good idea, however when I read that MLB has paid for all of the work up to this point, maybe that’s not such a good idea. Oakland may have to pay the whole $750k just to show that it has some skin in the game.

Over in TV land, if you are a Dish Network subscriber and a Sharks fan, someone on high doesn’t love you much. Yet another carriage squabble has occurred, this time between Dish and Comcast over CSN California. The dispute has viewers blaming both parties. Dish has always been the “budget” satellite alternative, with DirecTV having long been the true sports fan’s choice thanks in large part to its exclusive right to broadcast NFL Sunday Ticket. Hopefully they’ll get this resolved before the A’s season starts, or Dish loses a ton of subscribers.

Down south near the border, Escondido continues to struggle with authorizing $50 million for a new ballpark for the now homeless Padres AAA affiliate, formerly the Portland Beavers. The ballpark proposal is being fast-tracked so that it can be ready in time for the 2012 season (17 months from now), which sounds like a bad idea. Unlike Santa Clara, which at least had three years to study the 49ers stadium deal, the similarly sized Escondido is only getting a few months. $50 million in redevelopment funds would tap the agency’s budget for the next decade. Padres owner  Jeff Moorad is trying to buy the team, but the deal appears to be contingent upon getting the Escondido deal done. Portland is out of the question because PGE Park is being renovated for soccer. Tucson will be the interim home, though it’s possible Tucson could become the next long-term home. A MOU between the City and Moorad’s group is available here.

Speaking of fast-tracking, AEG’s Tim Leiweke is really pushing his vision of a retractable roof NFL stadium in downtown LA. The stadium, which would replace the West Hall of the LA Convention Center, would have “up to 72,000 fixed seats, 14,700 club seats and 40 field-level suites among its 218 skyboxes.” Apparently AEG isn’t demanding an ownership stake in whatever team moves there, though I’ll believe that when the ink is dry.

39 thoughts on “Put up or…

  1. The story says MLB’s Blue Ribbon Committee selected the Victory Court site. Have they?

  2. @pjk – Among the four Oakland sites, yes. They have not made any other recommendations.

  3. @pjk–in the previous EBX article, City Administrator Dan Lindheim said that the BRC likes the VC site the best, and have spent a lot of time and money on it. That’s when all the rumors went flying around about Oakland being picked over SJ, etc…Not quite there yet, but I’m more optimistic now than I’ve ever been in 2 years over this.

  4. Unless MLB views VC as a hedge to San Jose, I fear we will have to wait until the EIR is completed before we hear anything further from MLB. That means another 8-12 months. I fail to see how we’d be able to have any ballpark open by the 2015 season.

  5. @fc–i agree. 2015 for Oakland seems very wishful. 2016 or 2017 more likely 😦
    Well, I can retire early in 2017 @55, then I can see EVERY A’s game at VC 🙂

  6. Strange that MLB hasn’t stepped up to help fund an EIR, like they have for any potential SJ ballot measure. If it was reversed with SJ not getting funding, senile Oakland conspiracy theorists may cite that it means the BRC has chosen Oakland already, but alas it’s just another data point in an otherwise confusing saga….

  7. @ST- why should MLB pay for an EIR at Oakland–they didn’t pay for it in SJ—in fact they have paid nothing to date in SJ—if Oakland can’t afford the near $1M for an EIR how do you ever even consider them as a viable candidate to build a ballpark that is going to require a significant public investment or at minimum..potentially put some general funds at risk if they can’t sell the naming rights for $130M and yet still have a loan from MLB that needs to be paid. Keep in mind they never could sell the PSL’s when the Raiders returned which is why there is still a $140+M hangover from the Coli remodel–

  8. @GoA’s, wouldn’t the selling of the naming rights be the A’s problem, not Oakland’s? This is assuming the A’s pay for the construction of the ballpark.

  9. @fc—keep in mind what LW said–“you can tell me where I can’t build but you can’t tell me where to build. MLB realizes this and they also realize that the level of corporate potential in Oakland does not match SJ (fact..not trying to create a flame war). If they want to entice LW to build in Oakland than they need to transfer some of the risk that he is willing to assume in SJ (selling of the naming rights, corporate sponsorships) to the city of Oakland. In essensce it would be Oakland’s responsiblity to find a naming rights sponsor to cover the cost of the $130M loan from MLB (the $130M “loan” from MLB to Oakland would be given to LW). If Oakland isn’t successful in securing $130M for naming rights than that would put their general fund at risk—which is what is happening today with the $140M hangover from the Coli.

    Bottom line is that LW has alot of leverage here and no one can force him to sell and no one can force him to accept a bad business deal….hey–why not hold on–take the $30M annual welfare payment–make a profit and figure out where you want to go next if you cant go to SJ—

  10. Thanks GoA’s, that’s what has me scratching my head. MLB must know Wolff has no intention of paying for a ballpark in Oakland, and I doubt the voters in Oakland want to pony up any money to help pay for one (especially after the Raider fiasco). So unless MLB steps in to help subsidize the ballpark, I just don’t see how this can all work.

  11. Fc @ 1042,
    VC is a hedge for SJ. And whatever money MLB supposedly has spent on VC (?) probably is pocket change in the grand scheme of things.
    The hedge appears to be working! Hence last weeks AT&T quid pro quo. One more parcel left to go = one more day closer to that first beer at Cisco Field; after all this crap, its gonna taste mighty good!

  12. So we’re going to be left with a stadium that costs $500 million and highway improvements that cost another $500 million and no one willing to pay any of this. Can someone explain to me how this gets the A’s into a new ballpark?

  13. There’s a snarky but kind of true little article today about how the Bay Area (except the Sharks and maybe Warriors) can’t attract free agents.

  14. I don’t know about that. I hate the Giants but they’ve attracted their fair share of free agents over the years. But they are right that lately the A’s, Raiders and Niners are pitiful in their ability to draw any high level free agents. And while I’m sure there are other factors as well I doubt it’s coincidence all 3 teams play in pitiful stadiums that are decaying, with poor team facilities, and otherwise deficient (hell being honest Candlestick is literally falling apart. I’m shocked they’re still allowed to even host games there).

  15. @fc- there are many elements to the financing of the ballpark that Oakland has to work out–been trying to find Jeffrey’s post on revenue streams to pay for a privately financed ballpark. Projections for these revenue streams (sponsorship, pouring rights, naming rights, PSL’s or whatever you call them) are significantly different between the SJ and Oakland. One would have to question if the Raiders couldn’t sell their PSL’s when they returned and hence the $140+M hangover, than why would you assume the A’s in Oakland would be any different—especially in light of the fact that they have the second lowest season tix base in all of baseball. Keep in mind that these costs are to build the ballpark–Oakland Redevelopment agency will need to shoulder the $100M minimum in land acquisition, site preparation and infrastructure improvements.

    Any owner who will build in Oakland will want the city to take on the burden of these risks associated with the revenue streams to pay for ballpark construction—-There is no doubt that MLB understands all this—my belief is that they have decided if Oakland and its citizens ultimately want to take on these additional financial risks and build the ballpark and can do so in a established timeframe (2015 is way too optimistic) than go forward—bottom line it would be equivalent to say Pittsburg–taxpayers of Pittsburg built the Pirates a ballpark—-but they remain the lowest valued franchise in all of MLB (just ahead of the A’s).

  16. Selling PSLs in Oakland? That ought to go over real well – like the last time. So what will happen is the bill for this thing will come at close to $1 billion for the ballpark, business relocations, highway improvements. And no one – not the city, team or state – will step forward to pay for it. So we end up right where we are today when it didn’t have to be this way. MLB looks prepared to leave hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate sponsorships in San Jose on the table to instead try to shoehorn in an unworkable arrangement in Oakland.

  17. @pjk – The $500 million land/infrastructure figure that was floated was just as specious as the Ballpark Digest rumor. $100-200 million is much more realistic.

  18. @GoA’s – Exactly, it just doesn’t make any sense. Even if MLB were considering subsidizing the ballpark in Oakland, wouldn’t it make more sense to use that money to compensate the Giants for the loss of the TR? That way the A’s are happy, and the Giants are happy. The only losers would be Oakland, but who knows, maybe not having to deal with funding a ballpark would be a blessing in disguise.

  19. I agree with GoA’s on his assessment. If Oakland is willing to pay not only for the infrastructure improvements (100M-200M) and put in another 180M in a public subsidy with a 130M loan from MLB then I say go for it in the East Bay.

    GoA’s is absolutely correct with his Pittsburgh example and you can throw in Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Cleveland, Minnesota, Texas, San Diego, Seattle and now Miami to name a few where public subsidies were 50% or more of the total cost of the new ballpark.

    Oakland needs to follow the same model as these cities or they will never get anything done as they lack the private sector in the general area.

    We all know people the Bay Area will go “buck wild” if we use taxpayer money from our general fund for a new stadium when the governments (State and Local) are totally broke and in debt.

    I am shocked MLB and the owners don’t see this issue clearly as the Giants had a privately financed park after they got shot down for public subsidies in SF and SJ several times in the 1990s.

    We shall see what ends up happening but it is so obvious the A’s need to go to San Jose on so many levels it tells me loud and clear BS does not have 75% vote to change the T-Rights to the South Bay. The fact he cannot get 75% vote when the A’s are one of the biggest welfare cases in the league tells you something.

    The A’s are doomed to rot in the Coliseum for years to come and since they make $$ hand over fist there is no point to do anything if they can at least make a profit with revenue sharing.

  20. @Sid – Tony may disagree with us, but I think you may be correct in thinking BS doesn’t have the votes.

    • @Sid – Tony may disagree with us, but I think you may be correct in thinking BS doesn’t have the votes.

      Correction fc,
      I RESPECTFULLY disagree with you guys ;o)..

  21. @pjk–I agree, PSL’s would be a tough sell, on top of higher tix prices in all sections, for a new Oakland park and even a SJ park too, despite all their wealth. The Giant’s demand for there PSL’s was something Oak or SJ couldn’t match. I personally would buy PSL’s for a new Oakland park for great seats if it wasn’t too cost prohbitive. I was all ready to order the Raider PSL package back in 1996, $1300 a piece for 2, but held off. When I saw that the two pre-season games didn’t sell out and they were offering 2 for 1 deals, I knew there was trouble ahead and the demand wasn’t there.

  22. @jk–while you might think that there is no difference between SJ and Oakland regarding PSL’s or their equivalent—LW does—in SJ he would be willing to take that risk–but not in Oakland—hence the differences between how a ballpark would be paid for–

  23. oakland politicians are willing to blow a large piece of the accumulated Redevelopment Agency funds on a new baseball stadium, including any subsidies of construction costs, even if some of the same politicians were willing to offer revenue guarantees a la the psls, Wolf knows better than to count on general fund subsidy assurances from a city that is fast approaching insolvency in it’s general fund.

  24. “We have exhausted every option in Oakland” – Lew Wolff, December 8, 2010.
    Just my opinion, but I don’t thing he states this if his best friend is telling him “Sorry Lewie, I don’t have the votes for yah; yah gotta stay in The Town!”

  25. Tony: The league meetings were just concluded and there is no indication of any vote about the A’s mess. So it looks like the misery continues for A’s fans – except that Oakland is looking into a ballpark that would cost $500 mill to $1 billion that the city doesn’t have.

  26. @Tony- You make great points and I agree with all of them. You make so many good points that it is “mind boggling” why MLB has not moved forward in San Jose.

    The MLB charter states territorial rights can only be overturned with 3/4 vote of the owners and that is rock solid because of the anti-trust exemption. If the A’s were an NBA, NFL, or NHL franchise they would have moved to San Jose years ago regardless if there was another team in the area.

    San Jose regardless of any issues with land acquisition is a far superior option than Oakland just based on the SVLG letter alone. If you can get corporations to buy 2/3 of your tickets you can build privately plus make $$ as a franchise; it is “painfully” obvious they can do this in San Jose.

    On top of all of this the A’s suck 40M a year in revenue sharing dollars out of the other owners. That should be simple enough business case to let the A’s move to San Jose.

    The fact it has been 2 years almost when all of this evidence exists and there has not been a vote called by BS tell you something is “wrong”.

    You are correct the Giants don’t control T-rights and MLB does, but if BS cannot get the 75% vote why would he tell Wolff?? No, he wouldn’t, he would keep working to convince the other owners before announcing the vote because he “cares” about his old frat boy and it is his fault we are where we are right now. This plus he prays for a “miracle” in Oakland during the delay and he can forget about all of this.

    BS has been known to never puts anything to vote unless the outcome is predetermined. He wants to come to San Jose but the Giants have somehow convinced more than 25% of the owners to stand against the move.

    It would take 23 votes out of 30 to overturn the Giants T-Rights. That means all the Giants need is 8 owners to stand against it (including themselves) and/or a combo of having enough owners abstain or stand neutral.

    Neukom must have his politics well played for this to linger so long. BS thought what Steve Schott did in 2004 was easy. Little did he know because of the all the ownership changes the scales have tilted.

    Had he known this I am sure he would not have commissioned the BRC or write that letter to Lew Wolff stating if Fremont failed they could start talking to “other communities” about a new ballpark.

    Even BS is not that dumb and if he had known he would have announced San Jose belongs to the Giants like he did 4-5 years ago a long time ago and save himself all of this “bad press”.

    He must still believe he can get the other votes because he has us all still waiting….

  27. @Tony – I truly hope you are right.

  28. @len–Oakland has a $30 million dollar budget deficit, San Jose $114 mill. For such a rich city, SJ has serious financial problems just like Oakland and every other city in the US.

  29. But San Jose doesn’t need any money. A privately funded ballpark can work in San Jose, Lew Wolff has determined. It won’t work in Oakland; the A’s would need hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in construction funds for the ballpark, which they won’t get.

    Silicon Valley corporations are ready to commit Big $$ to a ballpark in Oakland. No such commitment for Oakland.

    I’d love to see a groundbreaking in Oakland in short order. But the odds are so insurmountable. It will take years for the EIR, years for the highway improvements, years to relocate businesses. And that would be if Oakland even had the money, which it doesn’t. Hard to get excited about an Oakland ballpark when the facts don’t look good for the place ever happening.

    When I go to the Oakland Zoo and see a big A’s sponsorship plaque by the lion’s den, that means something. The A’s have done their part to be part of the community. But Oakland has offered the A’s nothing but neglect and disdain in return, while giving Al Davis and the Warriors everything they want..

  30. gotta wonder what teams are opposed to the a’s moving to sj? sf is obvious. but who else? you could make an argument that the three other teams in the al west would have them objecting to the move since they don’t want the a’s to be equal footing them financially. that’s 4.

    who else? maybe bal since they’ve been i guess hurt by the fact with the nats moving to dc. that’s 5? what other team would vote against a move? i mean all this relocation nonsense would only take place with teams that don’t have a new park and there are only two left. the a’s and rays. if the a’s were to move to sj, would tb then move to another team’s territory? the story i’ve read is maybe tb moving to nyc and adding a third team to the area like it was pre 58 when they had three teams in nyc. so add maybe the nyy and nym? i really don’t see any other viable location left in the country that would or could add a mlb team and spending 500 million on a new park. add the two nyc teams and that’s 7, still one short right? what are the other owners really worried about? not only would the a’s most likely stop getting a check from them if they stay in oakland but you’d think a ton of sj money would also be injected not only into the a’s org but into mlb as a whole.

    seems like a win win for the a’s and most of the other owners in mlb.

  31. Now we can sit back and watch San Jose’s next move – which would mean a lawsuit against MLB, the Giants and hopefully Neukom, personally. Get a court to rule on whether the anti-trust exemption covers “territories” and keep MLB shaking in its boots.

    The other issue here is if MLB lets the A’s go to San Jose, it will hear to no one end about how MLB is kicking Oakland while it’s down.

  32. How can Oakland’s real tax paying residents , whether in the tough flatlands or the ” leafy ” hills , feel it is being kicked by MLB if the team leaves ? They are the ones who suffer the consequences of continued fiscal crises the follwing 20-30 yrs in bond debt service , if they have to pay for a new park . Of course , politics is politics , so with the right wink and nod at the country club, the billionaires in most places get Joe SixPack to suffer his kids’ education and potholed streets for their whole lives in exchange for the hoped for once per generation shared ” civic pride ” to take their minds off their daily struggles as a lower and middle class that will be further marginalized into poverty the next 20 yrs in this more and more third world -like country of superich and poor only.
    And about this civic pride thing- as an example- does anyone ,say , in the Bay Area care a rat’s ass when a Baltimore wins a Super Bowl or a Florida wins a Worls Series ? If the Giant’s had lost , would you be wanting to move or set up a new biz in Arlington, Tx the next days ? I didn’t think so.

    But that’s the business MO of Sports USA , Inc ! Go Team !

  33. @jk- always amazed at how you present information that is incorrect and paints only a partial picture- you stated above “Oakland has a $30 million dollar budget deficit, San Jose $114 mill. For such a rich city, SJ has serious financial problems just like Oakland and every other city in the US.”

    While there is no doubt that both cities have financial challenges you first cut Oaklands projected budget deficit in half–in fact it is as follows taken from OakTalk- “Rising pension costs will push the city’s projected deficit to $58.7 million by July 2011. And the biggest portion of that budget shortfall is a debt payment of $43.9 million due July 1, 2011, to the old Police and Fire Retirement System. The payment would be more than 10 percent of the roughly $400 million general purpose fund budget.”

    You also fail to show that Oaklands projected deficit amounts to about 15% of total project revenues while San Jose’s is around 12%. But the biggest thing you overlook is that the proposed ballpark deal in SJ does not put any general funds at risk—while the most probable deal in Oakland (assuming that you will find anyone willing to do it) will potentially put significant amounts of general funds at risk–

    Bottom line is that neither city should be looking to ever put any general funds at risk in this economic climate—which is exactly what Oakland will need to do to get this ballpark built—

  34. @pjk – you’re correct that in either scenario, LW wins. he can sit back and watch as Oakland continually delays and collects MLB welfare. Somethign that the ardent anti-LW folks forget: it’s his (and JF’s) team, period. Sorry, but the more Oakland and its supposed hard-core fans diss LW, the more he will oppose to be charitable and expect public financing. This is why SJ is much more viable.
    @GoA’s good points. Hopefully this educates those blinded by their own rhetoric. You might want to ask these same people your $50 million dollar question, how will Oakland finance it even if a ballpark is approved, especially with a Raiders stadium at the same timeframe (not to mention the Warriors lease coming up in 6 years as well).
    BTW : In unrelated news, looks like SJ and LW are still renegotiating to build the Quakes stadium, which will be the only one fully privately financed in MLS. http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_16840681?nclick_check=1 . Curious, if they would sell the land to LW for the proposed $89million, would that money go back to the RDA fund, and in turn used to buy whatever parcel is needed for the a’s stadium?

  35. Let’s look at how Oakland has treated its sports teams:

    * Warriors – First of all, they refuse to admit they’re from Oakland. Then, they negotiate a deal to move to San Jose, which they then take back to Oakland to squeeze a total arena renovation out of Oakland.
    * Raiders – We could begin and end with the fact that they already abandoned the city. Continuing, though, Oakland bends over backwards, spends hundreds of millions and wrecks the ballpark to bring the Raiders back.
    * A’s – Nothing for the A’s but years of neglect and mistreatment. Then, when the A’s want to leave. Oakland supporters – predictably – play the victim card and point the finger of blame at A’s ownership instead of the incompetent city leaders they elected.

  36. Here is my theory on who is voting against the A’s move to San Jose, each team I have put in parenthesis the reason for each.

    San Francisco (Haters!)
    Texas (Same division as A’s)
    Seattle (Same division as A’s)
    Los Angeles Angels (Same division as A’s)
    Baltimore (Pissed about the Nationals still)
    New York Yankees (Don’t want 3rd team in NY market)
    New York Mets (Don’t want 3rd team in NY market)

    Therefore there is one more team out there that is stopping this from happening. My guess is as good as anyone’s at this point on who that 8th team is.

    This is assuming there are zero neutral owners as if there were then this would pass easily. So it is safe to assume everyone has taken a stance on this.

    These 7 teams I can see legit reasons on why they would never want to see T-rights changed for the A’s.

    NY teams have a good case as Tampa Bay may move to NJ and if you are in the A’s division why would you want to see them go to San Jose and all of a sudden be able to fiscally compete? Over the years the A’s have found ways to compete with very little to work with. Imagine if they had a nice payroll on top of their good management and scouting? That equals bad news for their division rivals.

    Baltimore is just pissed off in general and that is why they will vote against anything related to a team moving. That 8th team though eludes me…

  37. I would guess the Cubs… they would not want the Sox to build a new ballpark in a better part of town… or is that currently allowed? Maybe Dodgers (don’t want Angels building new ballpark in L.A.). Same applies to other “guardians” of rather large regional markets, like Braves, Boston, Philly, etc
    I don’t think it’s a given that owners of the Angels, M’s, and Rangers would be opposed to the A’s moving to SJ. They would rather the A’s beat them with newfound revenues than keep taking their money via revenue sharing.

    Also, sometimes owners just vote out of principle and not with any sort of benefit for their team in mind. They might own a small market team that could in theory benefit tremendously from any change in T-Rights, but they have no plans to move and are simply personally opposed to the A’s elbowing their way into Giants territory.

  38. @Sid Dodgers for the reasons of having a 3rd team in SoCal. But, I think Baltimore wouldn’t vote against it. The fortunes of the A’s for them have less to do with ego and more with the fact that A’s take revenue away.

    I tend to assume that the owners will vote the way the BRC/Selig decides with the exception of the Giants.

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