2014 revisited

Two weeks ago, we laid out the possibilities for the A’s as a team-in-limbo at the Coliseum for 2014. In today’s Trib, reporter Angela Woodall got comments from principals from Alameda County and Oakland, the A’s and Raiders. Try as I might to find a proper analogy for this increasingly awkward situation, I simply can’t. So we’ll go with the comments instead.

A’s President Mike Crowley said he sent what he considered a fair lease extension proposal in June that was met with a “convoluted” response from the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, which oversees the municipally owned complex.

“So that ended that conversation pretty quickly,” he said. “If we can’t work something out here, we’ll have to find somewhere else to play.

“There are not many options. But we have time. We’re here in 2012, and we’re here in 2013.”

Always eager to open mouth and insert foot, Ignacio De La Fuente “contributes” to the discussion:

“The reality is they’re the ones who have a timeline, not us,” said De La Fuente, referring to the 2013 deadline and the lack of alternatives to the O.co Coliseum in the Bay Area.

That’s strange. The A’s are the only ones with a timeline? Didn’t MLB want the A’s playing in a new venue by 2015? Comments like that and Mayor Jean Quan’s suggestion that Victory Court could be acquired and entitled by November 2014 (making a 2015 opening impossible) aren’t going to convince MLB that Oakland is really serious about this. Couple that with the ongoing discussions with the Raiders, and you get the sense that the A’s aren’t exactly the highest item on the priority list among the Oakland-based sports franchises.

As I mentioned in the previous post, Oakland has little incentive to renew the lease at terms similar to what the teams are paying now. Both teams pay around $1 million each season with some additional revenue thrown in for good measure, not nearly enough to take care of the $20 million in debt service (equally split between Oakland and Alameda County), not to mention the $500k in field conversion costs. The Coliseum Authority is right to angle for more money to cover debt service and costs, but they can’t get too aggressive. If they try to hike the rent to $5 million or more, the A’s will have to consider whether that’s a good deal as opposed to the opportunity cost of improving an existing stadium somewhere else. They’ve already done it at Buck Shaw, adding 3,500 seats and improving the facilities for $4 million. My guess at this point is $3 million for either the A’s or Raiders for 2014, and an option year if new stadium complications arise. That’s a fair amount given the market conditions, which are favorable for Oakland in the short term but not favorable in the long term.

The Raiders are a factor in this as well. Movement in the direction of a new stadium somewhere as opposed to improving the existing Coliseum makes temporarily sharing the Coliseum less impactful for the Raiders. At least the Raiders have an existing NFL stadium option should talks sour with the Coliseum Authority: Candlestick Park. In 2010 the 49ers extended their lease at The ‘Stick through 2014, allowing for a smooth transition to Santa Clara if all of the funding lines up properly. Coliseum City would displace both teams for at least two years (perhaps on a staggered schedule), making it even more difficult to accommodate the A’s and Raiders sufficiently.

Several Oakland officials, including former City Attorney John Russo, have said that the A’s have misrepresented themselves and their intentions when getting the last two extensions signed in 2007 and 2010. That argument never held water to me, because there was always a termination fee that the A’s had to pay if they left Alameda County. If that isn’t an acknowledgement of the situation, I don’t know what is. The Raiders have a similar clause in their lease, yet they aren’t getting vilified nearly as much for talking to/about Santa Clara and Los Angeles. I suppose it all comes down to what the parties care about – getting a deal done as opposed to having good optics about potential deals. If both teams leave Oakland, optics won’t matter one iota and the chickens, in the form of voters, will come home to roost. Then again, maybe not? I suspect there is a large percentage of the populace in Oakland that will be thankful that the City didn’t get screwed Mt. Davis-style all over again. That day of reckoning is drawing closer.

64 thoughts on “2014 revisited

  1. I’m not seeing the Warriors and Raiders owners called slumlords and liars for wanting to leave Oakland, even though each of those franchises got $100 million+ in facility improvements in the ’90s compared to the $0.00 worth of improvements the A’s received. They had their ballpark ruined, but they’re the ones vilified by the Frisco and East Bay media for deciding enough is enough.

  2. one of the big reasons is that neither the Warriors or Raiders have a binding obligation that is tryng to be leveraged to keep them in Oakland—when their leases expire they will make a move based upon business sense and more than likely that will not be to stay in Oakland…A’s are being held hostage by TR’s—without this they would already have been gone and most likely not had alot of fanfare–recall that the proposed move to Fremont had very little whining by the Oakland only crowd-

  3. I think GoA’s is right. Between the Warriors never fully embracing being an Oakland team, and the Raiders transitory ways and his a fore mentioned territorial privilege issue Oakland doesn’t seem to care as much for good reason. They’re not losing something that has been around as long, nor something that’s as engrained in the community when they lose the Warriors and Raiders. Despite the city leadership ignoring the A’s. And of course the Giants territorial privilege issue just gives Oakland only fans a way to fight for the A’s. If the Raiders and Warriors want to leave there’s little anyone in Oakland can do about it and they recognize that.

  4. Well, the city of Oakland can get millions of dollars (which they definitely could use) for doing nothing but letting the A’s play a couple more years or they can get absolutely nothing and the A’s can use that money to add stands to Raley field (Sacramento). I don’t see how Oakland turns that money down, it’s just a matter of negotiating. They’ll never play in SF, I’m guessing. It’s actually small potatoes compared to funding a new half a billion dollar stadium. Speaking of the Raiders, what are the whispers around their camp? Are they thinking Oakland, Santa Clara or LA? Is Coliseum City something they are interested in?

  5. Actually, the Warriors have played in Oakland since 1966, predating the A’s by two years. Exceptions include the one year in San Jose in the late-1990s, and, believe it or not, having to win their only championship in 1975 by playing at the Cow Palace because the Oakland arena was booked with the circus…

  6. True they’ve physically played in Oakland longer than the A’s, but the Warriors also aren’t an Oakland team, never have been. They’re more an SF team these days than anything else if glancing around at what fans are wearing and what the FO is doing are any indication. Anecdotally I went to the Orlando game last Thursday and saw tons of replica original San Francisco Warriors jerseys and of course the classic “the City” SF Warriors jerseys and very few Golden State ones comparatively (and of course there’s never been any Oakland Warriors jerseys).

  7. The issue with a city hosting a major sports team is about every 40-50 years, the city will be expected to provide a new facility, although private financing is obviously becoming more necessary. In Oakland’s case, the time for a new stadium for the A’s is here but Oakland can’t make it happen either publicly or privately.

  8. The Warriors played some games at Oakland starting in ’66, but didn’t make the then-Coliseum Arena their primary home until 1971 (when they adopted the “Golden State” moniker).

  9. And they were so dedicated to Oakland when they changed their name that they played 6 games in San Diego in preparation for becoming “California’s team”. A plan that ultimately failed by none-the-less was their initial intention.

  10. I really think the Railey field option is the most cost effectve solution the A’s should consider.

  11. Well I don’t know if it would be cost effective. There are variables I’m sure we haven’t thought of beyond the temporary expansion of the stadium (which itself would cost minimum 10 million (based on the cost of expanding Buck Shaw Stadium for the Earthquakes doubled for size). And of course they’d need to get approvals from West Sacramento, Susan Savage (the RiverCats owner), Raley who built the stadium and still own the naming rights, and I’m sure many others. That said in a pinch it’s more than doable and would not be the first time an MLB team has been housed in a minor league park (A’s at Cashman Field, Rangers at Arlington Stadium, KC A’s and Royals at KC Muni, Giants at Seals Stadium, Angels at Wrigley Field West, etc…) So it wouldn’t be unprecedented particularly for a short duration.

  12. What is it about the leadership in Oakland that just makes you want to shake your head. Doesn’t anyone have the balls to stand up and admit the City is not in any position to support a sports facility anywhere within their city limits? What’s so wrong with that? Maybe Mayor Quan should have listened to Don Perata. At least he was honest with the voters when he said there was no way Oakland should spend any taxpayer money to keep the A’s.

  13. In other places, the state would kick in a large amount of money for stadium construction to keep the team in its largest city. But in California, there are so many teams in so many sports, and the state is broke. So there’s no handout en route from the state. This leaves Oakland, which only has about 400,000 people and has serious budget problems like other cities, in a tough spot. It might be time for Oakland to admit the game is over rather than hoping Giants’ lawsuits and territorial rights force somebody, anybody, to spend $500 mill to $750 mill on a ballpark in Oakland.

  14. I think the A’s at AT&T Park in 2014 would be ideal. If not, I could live with one season being played in W. Sacramento. Expand Railey to 20K seats with temporary grandstands wouldn’t be bad. Heck, will give my family a good excuse to travel to Sac and enjoy Old Town a few times during the Summer.

  15. While the A’s play at Raley Field, the Rivercats could play at the Coliseum.

  16. It’s Raley, after the grocery store. Not Railey.

  17. I’m not a fan of Angela Woodall. Quoting Peter Magowan is so silly it’s embarrassing. But I’m glad the lease issue found its way to a media outlet outside of this blog. While I personally believe the biggest delay has been the Blue Ribbon Commission looking in every possible legal snag the San Jose project may hit, the lease issue may be the real reason San Jose gets put on the “front burner.” I tend to think that not too much time has been spent thinking about what to do if San Jose is a no go, and lease negotiations become so difficult the A’s need to find a temporary home. Not that I think there’s any real chance of that happening.
    More than anything, I hope this issue finds its way into more mainstream bay area sports media articles, TV and radio conversations. With any luck that could change the dialogue to offer more thoughtful and articulate arguments as to why San Jose is a growing necessity instead of the Lowell Cohen, Glenn Dickey, Oakland-only banter.
    I would expect even though reports have a decision coming soon, if there isn’t one in the next few months, the lack of lease agreement could serious change the public dialogue. We could possibly see sports columnists calling Selig for ruling, to a much stronger degree than we see now. Providing not only a ruling, but providing a plan for the Athletics future. It’s just a little sad that most of that pressure would come from people like Howard Bryant, Murray Chass, and Ken Rosenthal instead of Susan Slusser and the rest of the bay area media. But most things are going San Jose’s way. I tend think the ending Coliseum lease is another step towards San Jose.

  18. @Burton – I agree with most of what you said except for singling out Slusser. She’s a beat writer, not a columnist. Sometimes she blurs the line when she does radio interviews, but in print it’s not her charge to dispense opinion after opinion. She’s one of the best because she’s an excellent reporter.

  19. You’re right, I should have left her out.

  20. I wonder if the A’s could play in Petco Park for a year when the Padres are on the road. There are a lot of bay area residents and A’s fans in San Diego.

  21. A season at Raley Field would be kinda fun in my opinion. For one thing, theres definitely a lot to do before/after a game accross the bridge in Old Sac, unlike the current location. I wonder how the A’s being there would effect River Cats attendance.

  22. OMG. Now we have all these Sacto booster trying to take the team away from Oakland. Will this madness ever stop?!? (joking)

  23. 20K per game at Railey would be better than the A’s could draw anywhere in the Bay Area.

  24. Glenn, Raley, not Railey. There is no “i”.

  25. @hecanfoos,
    IMHO, I don’t think A’s at Raley (thanks Dan for correction) would affect Rivercats attendance. I would think there would be totally separate packages and ticket prices for MLB and AAA. perhaps some “premium” packages to attend both? I think Jeffrey was the one who alluded to the regional aspect of the A’s possibly playing in Sac for one season; good way to build up the fan base in the Central Valley between Sac and Tracy. In the future these CV folks will be within an hour train ride to Diridon via enhanced ACE.

  26. Jesse, PETCO probably wouldn’t work for many of the same reasons that Pac Bell wouldn’t and a few new ones as well. It’s someone else’s territory, the Padres organization inhabits the ballpark 24/7/365 right now since they do own 30% of the park. Their radio network hosting afternoon talkshows in the left field studios pretty regularly. The park in the park being sold to the city as a “city park” on off days including showing Padres away games on the park’s big screen (which would be eliminated if the A’s showed up). Plus with PETCO there may be lease considerations to consider as well. The Pads lease currently doesn’t allow several types of events at the park, which is why it’s never held a football game like say Pac Bell has done. It may have some provisions preventing another baseball team as well.

    No if not the Coliseum the only stadiums that would work would be minor league parks temporarily expanded like Raley, or a ready to use stadium in a city w/o a team currently like Montreal, San Antonio, Omaha, etc…

  27. I’d like also bring up the impact of revenue from advertising and corporate naming if two MLB teams shared a ballpark. The initial assessed value of all these things would be thrown out of whack. If the A’s were to sublet another team’s ballpark for an entire year, they’d need some cut of the advertising revenue. Also, sponsored promotions and things of that nature would have to adhere to any preexisting contracts the primary home team holds. But, let’s be real. The A’s are playing at the Coliseum until 2015/2016.

  28. @Briggs,
    Just my opinion, but I don’t think there’d be revenue, contract issues at a AAA park a la Raley Field, especially since the Rivercats are an A’s affiliate. At AT&T Park; perhaps. As for playing at Coli through 2014 (Cisco Field in 2015 baby!), perhaps the A’s should consider leaving Oakland sooner regardless. The Oakland pols don’t give a rats ass about the team, so why give them one cent in lease revenue? Screw em!

  29. The city of Oakland will not turn down the revenue and jobs associated with an extension. They A’s will have to pay a little more but it will still be cheaper then relocating to another facility for the season.

  30. @GoA’s

    On the contrary, there was plenty of negative reaction from Oakland supporters about the proposed Fremont move from what I remember.

  31. I agree with JasonH. Dumb as they are, the Oakland pols aren’t dumb enough to turn down cash from the A’s for a lease extension.
    .
    When the Expos were relocating, there was media speculation about having them play a season or two in Boston until the permanent home was selected. It didn’t fly, because it makes no sense for a MLB team to bring competition into its own ballpark, on top of the logistical difficulties. The only way the A’s end up at AT&T in 2014 is if the A’s and Giants have cut a T Rights deal that both teams love, AND the A’s pay through the nose for 2014 rent. I don’t see how that makes sense for the A’s, and playing in another MLB park outside the Bay Area is a nonstarter. They’ll go back to the Coli, but may end up playing a handful of games in Sacramento or some other place.

  32. @JasonH Yeah that pretty much says it all. It will still be cheaper in Oakland, and Oakland needs the money. They’d play at Raley field only if the city of Oakland absolutely refuses to let them play at the Coliseum, for whatever reason. As much fun as it would be to move the team to Sac for a year, it’s probably not going to happen. It’s good to have a plan B though.

  33. @Tony D. : Yeah, I’m holding out hope for 2015 as well, but given everything that’s happened, I’m not just anticipating– I’m expecting weird shit to happen before the first pitch is thrown out at Cisco Field. Given all the ball in the air right now or delays routine with large construction projects, the A’s transient weirdness could creep into 2015…. Maybe they’ll have a mid-season 2015 opening for Cisco Field?

  34. re: Liccardo posting. We have to ask ourselves – are San Jose voters going to turn down nearly $490 million in private investment because providing the land will cost us $18 million? How many hundreds of millions of dollars are they paying for ballparks in DC and Miami?

  35. At this point, please make a decision already. If the decision is San Jose today, then leave the Coliseum tomorrow. I only say that because these Pro-Oak folks seem to be getting a bit out of control. I get that there’s plenty of jokes about Lew Wolff – there are no fans for this guy. But when people on facebook start saying stupid stuff like “I hope they check for weapons” and crap like that, isn’t that where a line should be drawn? Yeah, I get it, it’s a joke, and I’m no prude. If the A’s are going to San Jose, just cut that cord immediately. Go to Montreal for two years, Sacramento for two, anything at this point is better. It just feels a bit uncomfortable, that’s all.

  36. @daveybaby I’m sure those who want the team to stay in Oakland have been feeling quite “uncomfortable” with this situation for a while.

  37. LW used to sit behind the A’s dugout at games. However, some hostile comments along with sinister emails to the A’s made him change his mind about sitting there in the public with the other riff-raff. Now when he attends its in the Diamond Seats behind homeplate.

  38. re: Liccardo Piece: I don’t see how that vote fails. I think most people have seen the tremendous upside and revival the area had in the 1990’s when HP Pavilion was built and the Sharks came to play. That and a half a Billion dollar investment? Traffic has never been much of a problem there- even if you hate sports, how do you vote no?

  39. EB – I understand that premise for sure. But after 17 years of uncertainty for this franchise, this just needs to be resolved. My main point is that I don’t think there is any place for harmful, non-productive discourse that is dangerous. That is where my discomfort lies. With the exception of the Sharks, every owner of a major sports franchise in the Bay Area is trying to better the situation for their brand and business. The A’s have the worst situation of any team, yet Wolff is vilified more than every owner combined.

  40. ^Exactly, and yet he’s asking the least from the public for his stadium. Davis goes all the way to LA and only comes back when he can bend the city and county over far enough to see their own asses, hampering both financially for decades. Yet he’s some kind of hero to these people. The utter contempt for logic just astounds me.

  41. @Nam Turk I was making a joke based on the majority of the hostile comments being left on the A’s facebook page. A lot of the posters are from throughout the Bay, not just Oakland. Nice try though.

    @daveybaby I agree. There is obviously no place for violence or belligerent behavior. I think a lot of A’s fans are just pissed with the current state and/or direction of the franchise.

  42. “I was making a joke based on the majority of the hostile comments being left on the A’s facebook page. ” Actually, the only joke will be on the pro-Oakland crowd that has bought into the hype from Oakland politicians for the past 15 years. As they say, those who laugh last, last best.

  43. Wow, now this is a revelation that will kill the LW haters in SJ:
    ,br>
    “The City wanted this option—not Lew Wolff. Contrary to some assertions, the A’s ownership didn’t press for this deal; rather, the City sought the option agreement to avoid putting these parcels under a legal cloud which would take years of litigation to clear. In November of 2011, with a California Supreme Court decision looming, it appeared uncertain that that the RDA–which had acquired the parcels–would survive the decision. It didn’t. By encumbering the property with the option agreement in November, we hope to avoid years of legal wrangling to sort out land ownership.”

  44. Why all the fighting in the first place????? This is at the core grown men playing a childrens game and billionaires joint and being apart of an elite club! I play baseball for Cal and I could care less that our field has just bleachers and old digs. We go to other colleges and they have awesome clubhouses but do we care no! Its very shallow to make a big deal about a field on the SJ side. Oakland coliseum is out home and lets just enjoy it!! I’m lucky to still be playing baseball and we are still lucky to have pro baseball no matter how bad the field is!

  45. a. It’s NOT a children’s game. It was first played by adults.
    b. Rest of comment stricken. – Ed.

  46. Some one is bitter they sucked at little league! Real Big man calling out a college kid!

  47. During the NBA lockout of 1998 Jason Kidd spoke to my P.E. class at St. Joes in Alameda, where I was a senior at the time. When asked how tall he was as a high school freshman, Kidd said he was 5 foot 12. Joke unintended. Sometimes Cal has been known to lower their admission standards.
    .

    Back on point, I was told a rumor today that AEG was putting in a bid to run the Coliseum? As in the consession stands and such. I find it hard to believe Oakland would listen to such an offer considering their courtship of the Raiders to LA. Anyone know anything about this? Or just internet BS?

  48. Wow, two posters basically calling a college kid dumb, for a post that was neither aggressive nor derogatory. Lovely.

    • ML: I apologize for getting out of line.
      _____________________________________________

      Wow, two posters basically calling a college kid dumb, for a post that was neither aggressive nor derogatory. Lovely.

      Whatever. I still call BS. Theres only one “Jake” (Jacob, actually, Jacob Wark) on the Cal baseball team. If it IS him, it looks like he can take care of himself. I just think that a two sport (football/baseball) guy from Portland, taking a full class load probably has better things to do with his time than hang around here.
      _____________________________________________

      Cal roster: http://www.calbears.com/sports/m-basebl/mtt/cal-m-basebl-mtt.html
      _____________________________________________

      Back on topic: I think the presence of the A’s would definitely hurt the RCats at the gate. There would have to be some sort of agreement to compensate lost revenues IMO.

  49. @all – Go after the points, not the commenters.

    For instance, Jake – MLB is a $7 Billion per year business. You can’t get around that. Sure, we’ll enjoy the A’s as long as they’re at the Coliseum. At some point, probably soon, it will be time to move on. Just as for any college kid it’ll be time to graduate and enter the real world.

  50. ARe: a deal to play at Raley Field being easier due the Cats being affiliated with the A’s. ‘Affiliation’ does not mean they are the A’s bitch. The Rivercats are still an independent organization with separate ownership, revenue streams, etc. Affiliation in minor league ball simply means the minor league team’s roster is stocked with players under contract with the major league affiliate. Which is why affiliations change all the time. It’s just a loan of player and coaching personnel.

  51. If they were playing in Sacramento, it’d be a lost year at the ticket gate anyway. They could always work out some rev share with the Rivercats where they split revenue on ALL games for the year.

  52. @Al,
    Very colorful vocabulary my friend. When the A’s played at Cashman Field back in 1996, I don’t think the LV AAA team considered themselves the A’s BEEEAACHES! this is professional sports, not prostitution.

  53. I’m just replying to the post that assumed a deal to play at Raley Field would be easy due to the Cats’ affiliation with the A’s, when it would have little bearing on the matter. They are just as likely to play at a non-affiliate’s park than they are at an affiliate’s park.

  54. If they don’t mind leaving the West Coast temporarily, the nicest option would be the new ballpark in Omaha. Modern, and seats 25,000 expandable to 35,000.

  55. Think the A’s could move to NJ?

    • @Zorin – Not really. Population density and media market are there. Territorial rights for two teams would be extremely difficult to work out. There’s no real population center dense enough to build a ballpark around. The two true “New Jersey” teams have performed terribly at the gate. I suppose there is a site at the Meadowlands where Izod Center currently sits, though for a baseball team it isn’t optimal.

  56. Santa Clara’s Schott field only holds about 2500 It’s a great facility, but not big enough even to handle NCAA tournaments.. Cal’s baseball facility as mentioned is a beautiful field, but very small area for spectators. Does it hold 500?. St Mary’s is about the same. There’s Albert Park in San Rafael where they play minor league baseball. It’s kind of small too though.

    How about a football venue: Memorial Stadium at Cal? Spartan Stadium at SJ State? or Sac State? Just borrow the bleechers from the Coli. Nobody would even notice them missing.

    This is kind of a distraction and I’m guessing fairly low on everybodies “To Do” list when this project moves from “Front Burner D” to Front Burner C”..

  57. Mc, Spartan, Stanford and Memorial are too small to host baseball (just as the LA Coliseum was too small when they hosted an honorary exhibition a few years ago). And their stands are not movable to compensate. None of the college fields would work as they all have access and size issues. SJ Muni and even more so Albert Park also also wouldn’t work due to size and accommodation issues at both (they’re both older venues that are in need or replacement themselves.

    No if they somehow don’t stay in the Coliseum the only option would be to leave for a year or two since the only other two stadiums in the Bay Area that would work are in SF. And Candlestick can’t convert back to baseball anymore anyway.

  58. Well, we are now officially in the void (at least in the Bay Area) between football and baseball. Some questions RM:
    1) think we’ll here something re the A’s and SJ after Fanfest on the 29th?
    2) what are the odds we’ll here something re the Raiders and possibly going to SC with the Niners?

    Exciting times ahead indeed! By the way, to the hard-core, non-bandwagon Niners fans, Congrats on a great season. Going from 6-10 to the NFC Championship gives me hope for my Raiders next year.

  59. I hope Oakland absolutely hard balls Wolff and his disingenuous ownership group. $20 million sounds good to me.

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