Ruh Roh

The future at the Coliseum boils down to this.

Two areas defined for the Coliseum redevelopment plan. Area 1 is called "Coliseum City". Dotted orange lines are borders, not solid blue lines (zoning).


I’ve been reading the meat of the Oakland Coliseum Area Specific Plans RFP. It has some clearly outlined goals:

  • To maintain a world class sports and entertainment complex
  • To attract major technology or science employers to the campus across 880 from the Coliseum (a.k.a. Zhone)
  • Create jobs
  • Provide long-term benefits to the East Oakland community
  • Support the airport

During Friday’s press conference, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan revealed that six firms have submitted proposals based on the RFP. It wasn’t immediately clear if the bids were based on both areas (Coliseum City, Oakland Airport Business Park) or just one. Either way I’m interested in seeing what will happen. As I’ve written previously, the process is going to take some time to complete. This is not an environmental impact report. That, and EIRs for specific items if they are deemed large enough to require such studies, would come later. The scope is large, as it should be if it’s covering 750 acres. It includes an advisory that any consultants should plan for 25 project meetings with city staff, 8 community workshops, and 12 public meetings with the Planning Commission and City Council.

The interesting about the RFP is not that in the list of alternatives, it asks for one in which the A’s leave the Coliseum complex. In light of recent news about the Warriors being lured to SF and the possibility that the Raiders may join the 49ers in Santa Clara, what’s surprising is that there is no alternative that considers what would happen if all three tenant teams leave. At this admittedly early juncture, it seems a lot more likely that there will be only one or two teams left at the Coliseum in ten years than all three. It may be more likely that no teams will remain as opposed to the three.

In the City’s efforts to appease the Raiders, they’ve left huge openings for the Warriors and A’s to exploit if they wanted to leave. The Warriors have it good. The region is crazy for pro basketball as a product. The bar is astonishingly low for perceived success. Joe Lacob and Peter Guber (and Bob Piccinini, ahem) know that the Warrior fanbase will follow the team across the bay without batting an eyelash, and if some group of pro-Oakland fans chose to protest, they’d be easily replaced by fans in the West Bay. We’ve been chronicling the A’s efforts to stay and leave for over 6 1/2 years here, so I don’t need to rehash all of that. As for the Raiders, consider this: it was the NFL, not the 49ers, that put together much of the $850 million of financing for the Santa Clara stadium, including Goldman Sachs. Does anyone honestly think that the NFL and Goldman Sachs would do that if they weren’t going to lean heavily on the Raiders to play in Santa Clara, at least for a decade? The agreement drawn up with the City of Santa Clara supposedly has the team and the NFL on the hook for debt service, so it’s reasonable to think the Raiders will be nudged south. The NFL doesn’t give out it “G-3” loans to just anyone. It doesn’t want to do it twice in the Bay Area if it can help it, especially if another $150 million is in play for a stadium in either LA or San Diego.

A proactive, instead of reactive, government would at least explore the possibility of no teams at the Coliseum just to suss out the potential of the area post-pro sports. Pride and the lingering debt on the stadium and arena are pushing the City in a different direction that may not be very realistic. The challenges for Oakland in developing the Coliseum area are many:

  • Cost to build new stadia or significantly improve the arena have to be borne by the teams. At a half-billion for W’s or A’s and $1 billion for the Raiders, the cost gives an owner pause.
  • The likelihood for a big name employer to take the Zhone campus is slim. The City tried to pitch the campus as one of its two bids to lure the Lawrence Berkeley Labs second campus. That lost out to Brooklyn Basin Oak-to-Ninth, though LBL has delayed the announcement of the new campus location until next year.
  • With each tenant that leaves, that’s one less anchor to attract developers. Based on the number of games and usage, the Raiders should be the easiest one to let go of since they only play 10 games a year. A ballpark has 82 games, an arena 42+ and concerts and other events. That makes it doubly puzzling that they’d go so hard for the Raiders.

Let’s be clear about something. It makes sense for the City of Oakland to think about the future. They shouldn’t think with tunnel vision. The RFP mentions baseball twice, and specifically figures the Raiders in as part of the future. The City needs to work on all possibilities, not just the Raiders or a pie-in-the-sky Coliseum City development. No matter how Mayor Quan tries to spin the process in Oakland as “easy”, figuring out what to do the Coliseum 10, 20 years down the road is anything but. The plan needs to be comprehensive. As the process starts in earnest over the next year, I hope that Oakland residents start asking the tough questions. They deserve real answers. They’ll have their chance in the workshops and hearings.

34 thoughts on “Ruh Roh

  1. Not for nothing, but: couldn’t the six firms responding to the RFP withdraw their proposals just as easily?

    Additionally, when will the names of the six firms be made public?

  2. @Eddie: When the EIR for Victory Court is released, of course.

  3. What are the firms responding to if it’s up to the sports owners to build their own venues? Never thought of the raiders leaving for a decade and playing in SC- presumably while they try to build their own somewhere else including Oakland… Hard to believe that they would go back-

  4. Regardless of any sports team staying at the complex, this is an under developed area. It’d be nice to see something fresh and exciting in this area.

  5. Including the Raiders football stadium in the plan is completely pointless at this juncture, with the NFL helping the financing of the new 49ers stadium in SC. The Raiders will be tenants at that stadium, with the NFL vested in it, with the only other possibility a move to LA.

    The Warriors could possibly stay. They’re already in a pretty good situation, and not a big need to move.

    And the only way the A’s stay is if Selig wusses out on the SJ gnats T-rights, and then there are no out of town takers for purchasing the A’s.

    And with no real financing plan, and no EIR yet, this ambitious project seem pretty far fetched at this point.

  6. Saying Selig may “wuss” out on the Giants T-Rights is like me saying I’m going to wuss out and let my 5 year old daughter go to the mall by herself, with her kindergarten girlfriends. Who’s in charge here again?

  7. @jeff-athlethic–agree with your assessment overall but in all honesty can’t see the W’s staying in Oakland–franchise value goes up when you return the SF name–and most importantly an arena in SF will be a pretty big draw with all of the big name acts as well as the W’s–given that the new owners already do all of their press conferences out of SF I believe that moving to SF was decided right after they bought the team–where would you rather have your team located…next to ATT on the water or out in the middle of 880?

  8. The Warriors will move because Oracle Arena was not renovated correctly back in 1996. They have the smallest concourses of all time and the sight lines from the upper deck flat out suck. I have sat everywhere in that place and hands down San Jose has a much better facility.

    In San Jose the concourses are huge and it is bowl shaped seating not in a octagon like at the Oracle Arena. The sight lines are far better….granted there is a difference between hockey and basketball but I have seen basketball in San Jose before on several occasions and its better.

    Even without a slight renovation for b-ball it is nicer than Oracle. You can look online and you will see HP Pavilion despite being a bit older is one of the top NHL arenas.

    The Warriors are done in Oakland for these reasons. If they cannot get something SF they will move to San Jose to prevent Larry Ellison from moving a team there. They can renovate the HP Pavilion with the Sharks and block a 2nd NBA team from ever coming to the Bay Area.

    This is of course if San Francisco fails……..that would mean no one could move a team to SF after that fact.

    The Raiders are going to LA it would seem. The fact they have not jumped in on the 49ers stadium tells you something. Financing is done and the NFL needs to know how much to throw in from their stadium fund. They could still jump in but the clock is ticking, a shovel is going into the ground in July.

    The A’s of course are gone for the several reasons we discussed before.

    Therefore Oakland is going to lose all 3 teams…..There is no reason to stay for any of them.

  9. Only way the Warriors stay in Oakland is with a new arena in a Downtown location. That is with no 2nd team in the market.

    Otherwise why build at the Coliseum when you can be in Downtown SF or SJ?

  10. The only barriers to entry for a SF arena are the W’s current lease in Oakland (done in 2017) and the cost to build an arena and a practice facility, which will probably run more than $600 million by the time they get around to it. Doable, yet expensive.

  11. re: They have the smallest concourses of all time
    …Correct. It’s like walking around a hospital hallway, with those narrow, narrow concourses. They took the existing structure and shoehorned in a few thousand extra seats and suites, at the expense of concourses, etc. Come to think of it, that’s all Oakland can offer – half a football stadium plus half a baseball stadium (in a circular, non-baseball layout), and renovating an existing arena because it’s cheaper than doing a new one. This is not to fault Oakland, but the city and county simply don’t have the money to keep major sports franchises in 21st century state-of-the-art facilities. So in the A’s case, they try to force them to stay by telling them they won’t get hit with lawsuits if they can just build their own stadium in Oakland, regardless of financial feasibility. Wow. That’s a great business plan for the A’s.

  12. Of course, my principal concern with a new Frisco arena is the chance that whoever builds it will also try to entice the Sharks to play there is roughly in the neighborhood of 100%. But the Sharks have too good a deal in SJ – they run the building, kicked in $35 million to help pay for it, sell out every night, etc. San Jose has given the Sharks whatever they’ve asked for – new video displays, ribbon displays for ads, new boards, etc. Unlike Oakland, which not only didn’t try to accommodate the A’s but turned the stadium in a football monstrosity instead.

  13. @Sid – Woah. Way off there on the sightlines. Any hockey oval bowl shape is going to be inherently inferior to one meant for basketball. Too many seats on the ends. As a place to watch hoops Oracle Arena is a fantastic venue, one of the best in the NBA. Where it falls behind is in the concourse space and stuff that fans generally don’t notice, such as the rigging for concerts and back-of-the-house facilities. No need to be such a homer about everything.

  14. The plan doesn’t necessarily require the A’s to stay. A nice single-A stadium for the former San Jose Giants would work there with a smaller footprint. I think that having the equivalent of the Brooklyn Cyclones is Oakland’s best chance to keep baseball.

  15. San Jose Giants: Fighting to keep San Jose minor league.

  16. Ugh, how many times do the same posters on here need to either slam some aspect of Oakland or give their negative view of the Oakland sports scene? Seemingly every other post is the same message, by the same people. I know I’m going to receive, “It’s the truth, don’t deny what is certain!!!” I understand, but this routine is becoming worn out, in my opinion.

  17. pjk, I wouldn’t worry too much about the Sharks. While a new arena in SF would be enticing, the SJ Arena/HP Pavilion for a nearly 20 year old venue is in amazing shape and has already undergone one minor renovation at the team’s behest which San Jose was only too happy to provide. On top of that as you mention the Sharks have a sweetheart deal on facility management at the Pavilion which garners them a cut of pretty much every event held there. They’d be unlikely to receive the same in a shared venue in San Francisco.

    What I would look for is the Sharks using the new arena as leverage for some bigger upgrades in a few years time for the Pavilion to keep it “up to date” with the new competition in San Francisco. That is of course a bridge the city of SJ and the Sharks will come to when the time comes. But I wouldn’t look for it to be a deal breaker. The Sharks aren’t going to throw away nearly 20 years of straight sell outs simply to move to SF, particularly in the still ticket revenue driven NHL. Also I’d look for the new arena in SF to acquire some other team or two from either the fringe arena leagues like the NLL or the AFL or a minor league team like the new San Francisco Bulls ECHL hockey team. If they survive to 2017 I’m sure they’ll be tired of being in the then 75 year old Cow Palace.

  18. @ML- You are correct in theory about the sight lines from how “they build arenas” for each sport. But in reality it is not the case when comparing both venues.

    Look online and you will see Oracle Arena is one of the worst in the NBA. They do not make top 20 in most ratings while I have seen the HP Pavilion as being Top 10 for the NHL. When you take into account a lot of facilities are shared NBA/NHL arenas it tells you something.

    They pushed the upper deck way too high at Oracle. You are looking straight down at the game instead of at flatter angle like in HP Pavilion. (Basketball only). The lower level I will say was done nicely at Oracle but at the expense of the concourses which are way too small.

    The Octagon shaped seating arrangement was flat out done horribly. You wonder why Oracle does not get concerts and other events like the HP Pavilion does.

    The food lines are ridiculous because they spill into the concourses. At HP most of the food lines are at angle away from the concourse so you don’t run into people in line trying to pass by.

    Overall Oracle was done very poorly. Not enough room when they tore everything out. While HP was done really well because built it with the concourses and fan amenities in mind.

  19. I haven’t noticed any problems with the sight lines at Oracle in terms of not being able to see the action. The problems I see are that it’s high (too late to fix that) and too dark up there (they could probably add some better lighting).

    I’ve been there for one basketball game, a handful of concerts, and 2 Andre Ward fights and I’ve never noticed a problem with the concourses. By contrast, the HP can be quite packed between periods and getting out after the game.

    As far as SJ, the seats would certainly be further away from the basketball floor in terms of horizontal distance than Oracle, given the hockey conversion and oval shape. While the upper deck is way better in that it’s lower to the floor, the second level of luxury boxes is at the top of the upper deck rather than the bottom, which probably doesn’t help to sell those (I remember the Sharks selling those by the single game a few years back either right before or after the lockout). So it would be sacrificing luxury box revenue for regular seat revenue (and as the main difference is at the ends of the floor, not exactly the more expensive of the regular seats). Oracle has more in common with the arenas built since its renovation than HP does (pretty much everywhere has two levels of suites below the upper deck).

    So I don’t see SJ as a huge upgrade if any for the Warriors. Both teams seem to draw well where they are, and basketball is, um, a better demographic fit, shall we say, for Oakland as is hockey for SJ.

    Re: SF, could the Warriors make more money there? Probably. Is it worth the W’s paying for? Not really. I don’t think the Sharks would give up what they have to join them in SF, and I don’t see them making enough from concerts to enable a Staples Center-like privately funded monstrosity (it’s not like the Bay Area is hurting for concert venues with Oracle, HP, the Cow Palace, Shoreline, and Concord Pavilion, with Arco and the Marysville amphitheater not too far away either).

  20. @Sid/Brian – If you look at how arena seating bowls are laid out, Oracle Arena is basically ARCO Arena with an extra level of suites. Of course it pushes the upper deck higher. Nothing you can do about that. Ever been to Staples Center? Regular seating level, then club level, then three levels of suites. Now that’s a high upper deck. HP Pavilion is something of a throwback, largely owing to its original 15,000-seat design.

    At Oracle Arena the sightlines are geared towards basketball and that’s the way it should be. Even though the upper deck at HP Pavilion starts lower than at Oracle, its pitch is just as steep if not higher because it has to allow fans to view action all the way to the boards. That isn’t necessarily better for basketball. The end and corner seats are compromised heavily. It’s why if any basketball team were to come to San Jose, the Pavilion will require $50-100 million in upgrades to be deemed sufficient for the NBA.

  21. eb: “how many times?”

    Well, looking at the this thread, and thinking back over the years, I’d hazard to guess you’re looking at several thousand more times by Christmas. It’s not clear to me that there’s any other discernible purpose to this blog.

  22. @tps,
    Then please, enlighten us. If all we do here is slam Oakland, then by all means tell us the truth of this whole situation: is the town “viable,” is the corporate support there, private/public financing in place, does the political will exist to pursue a ballpark in this economy (beyond just drawing lines on a map), etc etc????? I’ve never slammed Oakland, just pointed out the realities on the ground. Interpret that as you wish.

  23. @tps and eb–so why do you spend time reading it if there is no value…serious question—

  24. @tps – So says the guy who thinks Coliseum City is doable. Please, tell us all how that’s going to work.

  25. Coliseum City is doable because RDA isn’t going to change at all. That is the key, you see.

  26. @GoA’s I read ML’s blog because it is well done and informative, even if we may be viewing this whole scenario from different vantage points. A’s fans have so few outlets and I appreciate any attempt to change that. There are also some genuine, level headed posters who have interesting perspectives. However, there is a certain arrogant, combative and just plain mean slant to some posts that seems to be set on a loop. You’re right though, not reading them would save me the irritation and it would be easy to predict what posts would fall into that category.

  27. @eb–appreciate the reply and respect it–I agree that ML and Jeffrey do an incredible job focused on facts. While I find the combative posts unnecessary I also get a bit annoyed with the redundant posts of some that all is good in Oakland and there is a sound plan in place even when the facts don’t support it. As A’s fans those that advocate Oakland as the preferred choice should be all of their city leaders for their lack of progress, demanding transparency in the process so that they can gauge their true intentions. To simply trust and hope that everything is going to work out is a disservice to the A’s finally getting what they deserve and most of us want for them….which is a new ballpark in the Bay Area.

  28. Jeffery, I assume you’re being facetious regarding RDA (and even if you’re not and you’re right that still only leaves Oakland with 250 million of a needed 2+ billion.

  29. I was being facetious… I don’t think Coliseum City has much of a chance of ever really happening, though I think it looks ridiculously cool.
    At this point, I have a hard time believing anything will happen in Oakland. Primarily because they are playing a PR game when they should have been checking off steps in a process.

  30. Well on the bright side the San Jose Giants are going to need a new home soon. Maybe we’ll see the return of the Oakland Oaks.

  31. jeff-athletic says:
    December 13, 2011 at 8:44 AM jeff-athletic(Quote)
    Including the Raiders football stadium in the plan is completely pointless at this juncture, with the NFL helping the financing of the new 49ers stadium in SC. The Raiders will be tenants at that stadium, with the NFL vested in it, with the only other possibility a move to LA.

    The Warriors could possibly stay. They’re already in a pretty good situation, and not a big need to move.

    And the only way the A’s stay is if Selig wusses out on the SJ gnats T-rights, and then there are no out of town takers for purchasing the A’s.

    And with no real financing plan, and no EIR yet, this ambitious project seem pretty far fetched at this point.

    This Coliseum City project is waaaaay ambitious and it would be nice if it could be actually executed, but I highly doubt it.

    The way Jerry Reinsdorf is sounding, is that SJ is a very GOOD home for the A’s organization and the future and it would be a good move for MLB and the best interest of baseball.

    That Stand By San Jose front headed by the Giants is a joke!

    If I were Oakland they should concentrate on building Coliseum City for the Raiders and Warriors!

  32. @tps,
    Then please, enlighten us. If all we do here is slam Oakland, then by all means tell us the truth of this whole situation: is the town “viable,” is the corporate support there, private/public financing in place, does the political will exist to pursue a ballpark in this economy (beyond just drawing lines on a map), etc etc????? I’ve never slammed Oakland, just pointed out the realities on the ground. Interpret that as you wish.

    Yep. It’s all about the reality of the situation when it comes to Oakland and getting stadiums and arenas done.

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