First, a hat tip to two great legends who left the world much too soon.
If you haven’t done it already, read Nina Thorsen’s KQED interview with the Trib’s Oakland reporter Angela Woodall. Then read Ray Ratto quick opinion piece at CSN Bay Area.
Then sit back and consider what happened. If you’re struggling to come up with anything to describe it, you’re not alone. Because nothing actually happened. No forward progress, all spin, posturing, and gesticulation. Oakland fakes like it’s doing something, then shrugs its shoulders when nothing happens. MLB says nothing and does roughly the same. San Jose tries to do something and is blocked by MLB and the Giants.
I’m going to follow the Coliseum City project because it’s my duty. As long as the City of Oakland and Alameda County make plans for it to any degree, it’s worth covering. I don’t think it has legs. I’ll explain why:
- Unless there’s a public financing component, a Coliseum ballpark will have a very difficult time paying for itself.
- MLB wanted a downtown, waterfront site for an A’s ballpark. The Coliseum fits neither criteria.
- The “City” part of Coliseum City will require its own large public investment. It is by design its own redevelopment district. Oakland will try to leverage existing and future TOD (transit oriented development) grants to help developers, but it’s a pittance compared to the overal cost (<5%). For instance, a 4-star, 800-room, full service hotel would cost $160 million to build, based on a $200k per room construction cost. That leaves out the other retail and commercial development costs. How much of that will the city/county have to subsidize to lure a developer?
- The Raiders appear to be entirely site-agnostic in their search for a new stadium.
- The chance that the NFL will award two $150 million G-4 loans to the Bay Area teams instead of spreading the love around to LA, Buffalo, and Minnesota is slim at best.
- The Warriors are going to play Oakland and San Francisco off each other to get the best possible deal.
With so much uncertainty and so many variables, who is going to take the lead and make that heavy first investment? Private developers won’t do it unless the teams are committed first as the anchors. Teams won’t do it unless they can get something to help them pay for their new venues or give them revenue down the line. That’s the very least they should get considering the amount of construction upheaval that the project would create. The city and county can only act as facilitators. They don’t have the money to shoulder much of the development cost.
Ratto indicates that Oakland is actually playing for the Warriors and Raiders at this point, with the A’s practically out the door. That’s pretty much what I’ve been saying for years. Sadly, Oakland would be best served trying to make the best play possible for only one of its tenants. Otherwise, it might half-ass the efforts for both. Based on what we’ve seen coming out of Oakland so far, it’s quite good at half-assing. Or in the A’s case, no-assing.