Quan talks tough as cities race

The Merc’s Tracy Seipel has the pulse on race to the keep/land the A’s. It appears that Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Doug Boxer have their talking points in order.

“The reality is that even though you have land,” Quan said of San Jose, “you still have not gotten permission” from Major League Baseball to relocate the A’s to San Jose. “My timeline is less urgent than your timeline,” said Quan.

Apparently Oakland’s timeline is urgent enough that the Victory Court EIR is being fast-tracked for completion in less than 12 months. When was the last time in the Bay Area anything this large got its EIR completed in less than 12 months? Beyond that, there’s still the issue of issuing bonds for the project – which may not be possible after this summer, at least not without a vote.

Despite the numerous questions about Oakland’s ability to compress 2-4 years of work into 12 months, Quan is pushing forward and that is a good thing. It’s best for Oakland and A’s fans to see if anything can come out of this, because the last thing we want right now is one less option.

Experts quoted for the story, namely CSUEB’s Paul Staudohar and Smith College’s Andrew Zimbalist, aren’t so sanguine about Oakland’s chances. In explaining how San Jose is well ahead in the process, Staudohar said:

“So unless Oakland pulls a rabbit out of a hat very soon, it appears they will lose the A’s by default.”

For his part, Lew Wolff relates that Bud Selig wants to look at every angle, which would indicate that Oakland should and will have time to complete the process. Unfortunately for Oakland, this redevelopment crisis may provide the most cruel, unkind cuts to both the schedule and funding. Here’s to Oakland finishing the work, with as few legal and procedural issues as possible.

59 thoughts on “Quan talks tough as cities race

  1. good stuff ML. Hope lives on! And I really do not think Gov. Brown is going to get his wish (destroying RDF), as we know it. And as a lifelong Oaklander, I am actually glad that my (civic) leaders are being measured in their comments and not making statements, that they can’t back up.

  2. Has Quan found someone willing to buy the A’s and build them a ballpark in Oakland with no public or private assistance?

  3. I remain skeptical but applaud the City of Oakland’s 9th inning rally.

  4. Oakland paraded its disdain for the A’s for 15+ years. Now it suddenly wants to keep the team?

  5. pjk– Like a lot of bad marriages, when one spouse decides to leave the other one suddenly regains interest in keeping him/her.

  6. ML, when is the EIR supposed to be finished? I fear that the worst outcome is that the EIR is now delaying the process when Selig needs to just choose already.

    • @gmanca – It should 18 months from when work begins. At this point we’re at best 6 weeks into the work. The draft EIR should appear no sooner than April, followed by a 45-60 day comment period, then the work on the final EIR (another 3-6 months at least, probably more), then the release of the final EIR and its 45 day comment period. Then the city has to certify the EIR. Any number of things could trip up the process along the way, especially an outpouring of negative comments about methodology or data validity.

  7. The Oakland draft EIR is due in Mar./Apr. 2011… looks like that (EIR) is going to get “rubber-stamped” and then they will try get the full report out within 12 months.

  8. Unfortunately for those wanting the A’s to stay in Oakland, I don’t think the “rabbit” equates to merely a completed EIR. Pjk hit the “rabbit” on the head.
    I’ll give Quan due credit though; she sure can talk a good game.

  9. RM,
    Respectfully disagree that Selig looking at every angle indicates that Oakland will be given a fair shot to finish their process.
    If we are to believe Wolff, the committee has already completed its work (I.e. Not waiting around for Oakland to come to a conclusion).
    Every angle might relate to the T-Rights issue and possible compensation for the Giants. I’ll also totally disagree with Seipel that this is a “race” between SJ and Oakland; you can’t have a race if only one horse is running.

  10. Good comments so far here, and thanks ML, for the update on Quan’s talk. If MLB is indeed interested in the Victory Court site and it is holding up the process, that is the best thing to happen to Oakland. As for territorial rights, combined with the type of team that the A’s are putting on the team for 2011, I can’t blame the Giants (or their owner alone anyway) of putting up a fight.
    Finally, the legislature voting on RDA funds are mostly from large cities needing the funds greatly. Mayors from many cities are already trying to do what they can by meeting with him and his administration. If there is a rabbit to pull of the hat, the focus for Quan should be towards that moreso than speeding up the EIR.

  11. After reading the print version, Seipels piece appears to be more of a “cattle prod” for SJ and its effort, because she is giving Oakland way to much in terms of a so-called “plan.”
    They’re conducting an EIR and that’s it Tracy! Even if Oakland decides to blow all their RDA bonding capacity on the land (its not free money; it needs to be payed back), that still doesn’t address paying for infrastructure, the ballpark itself, and lack of corporate support.
    I’m not hating on The O, just being realistic. By the way RM, why does Tracy keep saying “voters must approve the project” when that is technically false? That would only be true if taxpayer funds went towards direct construction costs.

  12. How would they be cattle prodding SJ though? SJ has done just about everything possible to get their ballpark underway and indeed just need Selig to say, “go for it” at this point and it will happen.

  13. @Tony D.: They’ll be other costs aside from the construction of the ballpark itself. Also, the city would be renting the land out to the A’s. This project ain’t gonna be carried completely on the shoulders of Private Benjamins (financing), ya dig? So, they’ll be a public vote. The term “private financing,” while appropriate to a degree, is also being used here as a political buzz word.

    • @Tony D.: They’ll be other costs aside from the construction of the ballpark itself. Also, the city would be renting the land out to the A’s. This project ain’t gonna be carried completely on the shoulders of Private Benjamins (financing), ya dig? So, they’ll be a public vote. The term “private financing,” while appropriate to a degree, is also being used here as a political buzz word.

      Briggs Brah! Having been at this now for 6 years, I’ve fortunately (or unfortunately) become pretty knowledgable regarding “The Vote” in SJ. Simply put, the Autumn Pkwy project and land acquisitions at Diridon South would be happening with or without a ballpark; those projects are not subject to public vote under SJ law. If RDA bond money or a tax hike for ballpark construction were ever considered, then yes, there would technically have to be a public vote. So in short, if the fine pols of SJ want to put this thing to the voters (and that’s their right), it’s because THEY WANT TO, not because it is necessary.
      I can say this with extreme confidence: Selig will NEVER tell his frat brother and John Fisher that they have to build in Oakland; thus risk loosing a sure ballpark site, a corporate sponsor and loads of Silicon Valley corporate support. Such an unthinkable act would suggest that MLB does indeed favor the wealthy, selfish Giants over the A’s, and we all know the MLB universe does not revolve around one club.
      Last note on me for this thread: a line by Chuck Reed in Seipels piece speaks volumes on where we are at today in terms of a “decision” from MLB. “I’m trying to put together a package and explain that to Major League Baseball and tell them we can deliver the site.” Ladies and gentleman, THIS IS ALL ABOUT IF SAN JOSE CAN DELIVER THE SITE. Need we say more on this saga? Until the next thread…

      • If RDA bond money or a tax hike for ballpark construction were ever considered, then yes, there would technically have to be a public vote.

        .

        The scope is more broad than just construction costs. Costs associated to police, water, fire and waste management come from municipal funds. A major sporting venue requires each of the above and more.

  14. It is obvious San Jose is so far ahead of Oakland in every way that Selig is stalling for time.

    His deadline is 2015 for a new ballpark and that allows Oakland another year to put it together. Selig needs to understand that Wolff won’t build in Oakland he cannot force him to do so.

    Unless Selig is going finance the ballpark with MLB subsidizing it ($250M or so) only then does it make sense for him to stall.

    Do the other owners really want to put in $8 million each to keep the A’s in Oakland just to not deal with the Giants? That is the question I pose as if Wolff refuses to privately finance the ballpark in Oakland then Selig is just wasting time for no reason.

    If he doesn’t have the votes (which it looks like) then he must have a financing plan to build in Oakland if they can get the land, kick out 16 businesses, and improve the transportation issues then it makes sense why he is doing nothing.

    But has MLB ever done that in the past? No, they want handouts from the taxpayers to build ballparks and they frown upon anything privately done.

    Otherwise is Selig really this stupid?? Not being rhetorical either.

  15. Selig must know he will get MLB to subsidize the ballpark and the Giants will be stuck thinking we now have ATT Park-East Bay 10 miles from us with us getting zero $$ in return.

    The Giants will be infuriated to see MLB subsidize the A’s when they were forced to build privately years ago….It would be a fitting end to all of this.

    At this point I am sure the Giants will with open arms negotiate the release of Santa Clara County to the A’s with one caveat…It will be too late.

    It is the only explanation as otherwise San Jose is so far ahead in the process and is such a better city to build in. Why wait?

  16. @Sid–i think if BS tells Wolff he needs to build in Oakland, he’ll do it, if he’s a truly a decent person. To sell to an out-of-towner is just wrong, and to sell to a local who’ll bring back the Haas legacy will make him look like a total jerk.

  17. jk, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. Wolff has said he’s done in Oakland. If he’s done, he’s done. He won’t build in Oakland and will dump the team IF he’s blocked from SJ. It’s really that simple. Only question Oakland needs to ask themselves, is do they have a billionaire lined up who will build a $500 million dollar ballpark for them in Oakland? Because otherwise the A’s fate is really simple to understand, they’ll be gone either through a move or contraction.

  18. Me thinks that Oakland is being given enough rope to hang themselves–they understand the rules–ballpark no later than 2015–you can go through the motions and hope for a savior but at some point Oakland will have to say uncle—either due to challenges to their EIR, funding for land/infrastructure, funding to actually build the ballpark–they are well aware of what they are up against as evidenced by boxer’s latest comments—since bs doesn’t like conflict he will be able to position SJ as the default solution since Oakland won’t be able to deliver.

    In the meantime SJ needs to continue to march forward–acquire the remaining land–clear it–continue the Autumn Pkwy extension–all these things can happen regardless of MLB giving a thumbs up–

  19. If Oakland had a savior, ie, an ownership group ready to buy the team and build a ballpark sans taxpayer $$, we’d have already heard about them, I believe. Oakland is just going through the motions, like a guy working at McDonald’s who likes to test-drive a Mercedes at the local dealer, even though he’ll never actually own one… If Wolff could make money at a privately built Oakland ballpark, I’m sure he’d build one. But he seems to have looked at the numbers and knows it won’t work like it would in the South Bay.

    Doug Boxer talks about how difficult it is to move a major league team. But Oakland meets the same conditions as Montreal – team stuck in a bad stadium, poor attendance and no new ballpark in sight. Oakland’s days as a Major League Baseball city appear to be numbered and the city can blame itself for that.

  20. Lets look at this way guys….Selig needs to force Neukom’s hand and negotiate the release of Santa Clara County to the A’s.

    How is he going to do that?

    If Oakland gets the EIR and the land together he can then say to the Giants “Look, MLB is going subsidize the ballpark in Oakland, I know you are pissed off about having to privately finance your ballpark while we are giving a handout to the A’s, here is your last chance to negotiate T-Rights”.

    “Or you will be stuck with ATT Park- East Bay 10 miles away when you can get paid and have the A’s move 50 miles away”.

    The Giants are playing their hand because they feel Oakland will never materialize because of financing issues and the political well being poisoned there for years.

    If MLB tells the Giants that they can make Oakland happen and help pay for it what are the Giants going to do?

    They will negotiate at that point seeing a new ballpark about to pop up 10 miles away. If this is the case then Selig is playing this perfectly and he needs Oakland to step up in some way to force the Giants to negotiate.

    In which case he doesn’t need votes and the act of MLB paying for A’s stadium will be enough for the Giants to cede San Jose…….I know this seems odd because MLB wants handouts and does not give them but if you think about this makes sense….

    • Lets look at this way guys….Selig needs to force Neukom’s hand and negotiate the release of Santa Clara County to the A’s.How is he going to do that?If Oakland gets the EIR and the land together he can then say to the Giants “Look, MLB is going subsidize the ballpark in Oakland, I know you are pissed off about having to privately finance your ballpark while we are giving a handout to the A’s, here is your last chance to negotiate T-Rights”.“Or you will be stuck with ATT Park- East Bay 10 miles away when you can get paid and have the A’s move 50 miles away”.The Giants are playing their hand because they feel Oakland will never materialize because of financing issues and the political well being poisoned there for years.If MLB tells the Giants that they can make Oakland happen and help pay for it what are the Giants going to do?They will negotiate at that point seeing a new ballpark about to pop up 10 miles away. If this is the case then Selig is playing this perfectly and he needs Oakland to step up in some way to force the Giants to negotiate.In which case he doesn’t need votes and the act of MLB paying for A’s stadium will be enough for the Giants to cede San Jose…….I know this seems odd because MLB wants handouts and does not give them but if you think about this makes sense….

      I like this!

  21. @TonyD Your loose use of loose in lieu of lose is a lose-lose

  22. Briggs, true. But per SJ city law technically they don’t need to have a vote except in situations where the funding is going to the stadium itself. However, the city is choosing to have a vote anyway so that they have a mandate to go forward. But they are not legally required to do so under the circumstances the stadium is currently being planned under.

  23. Also keep in mind that if MLB is forced to subsidize the Oakland ballpark because of the Giants greed it will show to the other owners who will have to shell out $$.

    The Giants will alienate the other owners and they themselves will have to pay $8M-$10 for the A’s new place. Is that logical?

    No, it isn’t and having the A’s pop up a brand new stadium 10 miles away will take fans away from the Giants without a doubt….Especially if the A’s are winning then it will for sure hurt in the pocket book.

    The Giants want the A’s to rot in the Coliseum or move away from the Bay Area. They want things to stay the same and that is why they protect San Jose at all costs.

    If it comes down to a new Oakland ballpark 10 miles away subsidized by MLB or a new San Jose park 50 miles away privately financed the Giants at that point will have no choice but to negotiate.

    Selig is trying to force the Giants to either:

    1. Alienate all the owners by forcing them to pay for the A’s because of their greed.
    2. Sell their T-Rights when the price is at its lowest and move the A’s into San Jose where no MLB subsidy will be needed.

    This could seem far-fetched for some people but what other reason is there for the delay??

  24. there are 24 comments on this top post. about 18 of them, basically say the same thing. anyway, as has been reported on this blog and elsewhere … MLB is in contact with BOTH cities.

    @SJ, Oakland A’s fans – jk-usa, me and the pro-Oakland stadium supporters have really slowed down the SJ “bashing” to a grinding stop. Can you guys stop going on and on about Oakland’s shortcomings? Present your cities case and move on.

    It doesn’t have to be about how large your city is, or how many corporations surround you. Green Bay has 100,000 residents and they make a lot of cheese up there in title town. Maybe the A’s can be publicly own like the Packers?

    • @David – MLB’s by-laws expressly prohibit publicly owned franchises, mostly because they don’t want a team’s finances publicly aired as the Packers’ have during CBA negotiations. Even if a team were publicly owned it would guarantee a publicly financed stadium. Lambeau Field recently had over $300 million in renovations, nearly all of it all taxpayer paid.

  25. Thanks for the clarification ML.

  26. I like Sid’s scenario here: Force the Giants to either give up San Jose or alienate the rest of the league who would pay the bill for an Oakland ballpark. And help pay for it themselves.

  27. If MLB is going to let Oakland at least complete their initial EIR process before making an announcement, that means basically no news until 2012?

    • @Mark N. – Not necessarily. The Draft EIR is due in April. Once people start going through that a bunch of red flags will be raised about completeness and more importantly, cost of the project. If the cost of making environmental mitigations and additional infrastructure is too high, MLB would have the perfect excuse to say, “Sorry Oakland, we can’t handle that.”

  28. So a big opening day kick in the nutts might be in store for Oakland partisans. Ouch.

    • @Mark N. – MLB won’t time anything to coincide with Opening Day. It’ll take time to foment opposition to the project.

      @Zonis – I’d love to have that confidence, but with the GOP-controlled House I don’t.

  29. Speaking of rail, the AP did a bit on the salary of Caltrain’s CEO and it’s 400k, 59 percent more than any other state transit CEO. And to rebut the issue of his salary, someone on the board pointed his decisions re: the Baby Bullet trains. Praise insulated from the realities of their “success.”

  30. Why do proOakland backers keep on insisting that Selig will be able to force the A’s to stay in Oakland. As LW said before, they can force him where not to go, but cannot force him to stay.
    @Sid – I like your idea of forcing the other owners to subsidize the A’s and a big FU back to Neukom.

  31. This whole idea of MLB threatening to subsidize a ballpark in Oakland – cockamamie. MLB has already spelled out how much they’re willing to provide, a $120-130 million loan. After that it’s up to the A’s and Oakland together. MLB is going into new CBA negotiations. They are not going to allow a deal to an individual team that would fundamentally change how revenues flow throughout the league. The NFL is in a predicament for allowing the G3 program to get too large. If MLB levies that threat, it’s an empty one and Neukom will see right through it.

  32. @ST–i think whatever Bud tells LW what to do, he’ll do it, unless there’s some major fallout of their 50+ year friendship. LW keeps saying how ridiculous TR’s are, but Bud doesn’t seem to think so.

  33. …and whatever Bud tells Bill Neukom what to do, he’ll do it. OK, NOW until the next thread…

  34. @TonyD–you always say “until next thread”, but you always have to add another post or two, or three…lol.

  35. jk, to a point yes, but as Wolff says, Bud can’t make him build in Oakland, particularly if it’s being built with private money. Bud can’t make anyone build in Oakland with private money.

  36. If my scenario plays out then Bud Selig would get his “consensus” by default.

    The 120-130M dollar loan will not do the trick and even BS is not that dumb to think that is enough.

    The other owners right now if faced the withe possibility of subsidizing the A’s ballpark because of the Giants greed it will automatically sway votes in the favor of opening up San Jose.

    Selig is doing this to force the Giants hand but with RDAs on schedule to be eliminated this changes things and that is what BS gets for lagging on this so long….it throws a major wrench into his plans.

    Either that or what ML states about the EIR failing and then the only option is San Jose in which case BS has to put it to a vote or face a lawsuit from the City of San Jose.

    Either way BS is going down in shame….

  37. Is SJ going to have an election about the stadium on April 7 or June 12?

    @Tony, Sid, Briggs, or pjk – Do you have an opinion on the lack of a “fanfest” for the A’s, the last few years?

  38. David: The A’s offer $2 nights, free parking nights, free hot dog nights, etc, practically bribing people to go to games. Yet attendance in Oakland remains abysmal. Will restoring the Fanfest bring attendance to something respectable? I kind of doubt it.

    I hear this absolute nonsense about Wolff supposedly suppressing attendance by doing things such as tarping off the upper deck. That might count as suppressing attendance if not for the sparse attendance in the lower two decks. Take off the tarps so we can have 15,000 more empty seats? OK.

  39. Let’s see: $120 mill loan from MLB plus $0 from the City of Oakland plus $0 from East Bay corporate sponsorships. Does that add up to the $500 mill needed for a new ballpark? How many East Bay companies have purchased naming rights to the Coliseum arena or stadium over the years? The answer is zero.

  40. thanks for your opinion, pjk… any thoughts on april 7 and june 12?

  41. @David: I live smack dab in the middle of SF and most of my baseball buds are Giants fans. A few will join me at A’s games throughout the season and I’ll do likewise. Just my own take: At times, it can be a bit embarrassing when the A’s go the cheap route during fan events. For instance, Will Clark would be around AT&T while A’s fans have to settle on Carney or Fosse. It’s not a big deal because we’re there for the baseball, but the little things added up sets a distinct tone for a game at AT&T compared with one at the Coliseum. I still wear by A’s tshirt or cap around the city proudly though. In a way, having to settle on the poor-man’s version of everything fits perfectly with the A’s raffish charm. I can’t make it to the A’s fan event since it’s on a Tuesday afternoon, but those are mainly for kids anyway. I’m that one dude at the bar asking that one of the TVs be switched to the A’s game, and the initial response is usually an apathetic gaze as if I’ve just told a crappy joke. A’s fans gets some nice perks though—cheap & easy to come by tickets. I love going to interleague games at AT&T to support the green n’ gold so personally I don’t mind the status quo but if a new ballpark helps generate attention, so be it.

  42. David – you didn’t ask me, but I’ll answer anyway. The lack of Fanfest sucks and I wish they’d bring it back. It was a fun day and great way to kick off the new season.

  43. @David- I went to “Beerfest” last year and the line was so packed it was amazing. The A’s do have some very good promotions such as the $2 dollar tickets and free parking.

    Canceling FanFest really is a bummer but who wants to kick it at the Coliseum?

    I will say in 2004 I went to a Giants-A’s game at the Coliseum and there was an A’s sponsored tailgate and that thing was a riot. The food and drinks were amazing and the stadium had 50k people in the stands.

    It was great seeing Giants and A’s fans talking about how they like both teams but only draw the line in the sand when they play each other. It was good times and it showed to me without a doubt that most people in the Bay Area like both teams but the Giants ballpark puts them way over the top.

    The A’s are actually pretty popular all around it is amazing how the owners hate each other but the fans mutually root for each other while the 49ers/Raiders owners get along but the fans hate each other.

  44. Dave: Why are you asking about a SJ election? SJ can’t do anything as long as MLB is too cowardly to do the common-sense thing and let the A’s go to San Jose.

  45. Does anyone know if Oakland has revealed their ballpark consulting group—if they have one? I’d like to know why they’re targeting 39k seat capacity. Is this for the purpose of facilitating any possible future expansion while initial building a 32-35k seat ballpark? Just wondering.

  46. Speak for yourself Sid. I hate the Giants, their fans, and everything about their organization. I daily dream that Pac Bell Park’s foundation will crack and that it slides into that polluted slough ESPN gets all hot and bothered over every year (on an off day of course). And I know I’m not alone on both sides of that equation.

  47. I was with you right up until you said “on an off day”

  48. I didn’t want to advocate anyone’s death ;). Besides I’d rather make Giants fans suffer by making them watch their precious phone booth slide beneath the overrated waters of McCovey Slough.

  49. No death, lots of swimming would be ideal.

  50. I’m with you guys–only 2 teams I like—the A’s and anyone who beats the gints—the visual of ATT slowly slipping below is awesome—of course neukom treading water–or probably laying on his back to keep his frickin bow tie dry– only makes it better

  51. @Dan- I said “most” people like both teams not “all” people.

    Simmer down my friend as we are on the same side here. I am a Giants fan first but being from San Jose and a A’s fan I want to see this city get the team.

    Of course if Oakland can get it done then I am all for it but the deck is stacked against them due to their own discourse.

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