3/6/12 News Analysis

First off, a quick acknowledgement of the unanimous approval of the Kings ESC arena deal by Sacramento’s City Council. Somehow, that happened a full hour before the Oakland approved its resolutions and expenditures for the Coliseum City project. There’s still a long way to go. The $255 million that Sacramento is committing to the project is the big semi-known. If KJ and company can put a deal together that doesn’t look too risky (and force a referendum because of that risk), they’ll be in pretty good shape. There are still issues of which route the City will go to come up with the $255 million (selling parking rights vs. raising bonds), the Maloofs’ ongoing debt, and the typical EIR mitigation stuff that will be identified in the coming months. Onward and upward.

I realize that my liveblog notes from the Oakland City Council meeting are so messy that they’re nearly incomprehensible, so I’ll boil the whole thing down to its essence.

1. The Council voted for a feasibility study and EIR, not to build anything.

Just to be clear, here’s the relevant language from last week’s committee report (emphasis mine):

The ENA [exclusive negotiating agreement] with the JRDV/HKS/Forest City development team will allow private predevelopment work to proceed for Area 1. The ENA between the City and the development team is for the purpose of determining the capacity of the development team to deliver on the project, and for studying and evaluating the feasibility of a new stadium development.

In other words, it’s a start. It’s not a promise to replace the Coliseum or erect a ballpark next door. It’s about determining whether this concept, Coliseum City, actually makes sense. Speaker after speaker brought up the legacy of major pro sports in Oakland, totaling 111 years (impressive). Some brought up the soul of the city, or how teams leaving could negatively impact the next generation of Oaklanders. Problem is that all these appeals to passion and soul at least indirectly led to the bad deal that the City and Alameda County got into in the first place with Mt. Davis. Ignacio De La Fuente has been consistent in his desire not to bend over backwards for any team, and that any team that wants a deal in what he considers the best land for a stadium in the Bay Area has to be an equal, willing partner. Or in this case, three equal, willing partners. Which brings me to the next issue…

2. The City Council is couching their words.

Libby Schaaf brought up the fact that the original resolution(s) did not specifically call for a project alternative in which no new stadium is built, so she asked for a rewording and got it. This request came after just about every other Council Member other than Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan (who was absent) talked about the “no stadium” alternative. That’s the case where either it doesn’t make sense to build a new stadium to replace the Coliseum, or no team is interested in such a stadium, or some other set of circumstances in which a stadium can’t happen. Those in the audience didn’t want to hear it – they want to hear about progress and results – but it’s a big step forward for the City Council. Last year I wrote about the adult conversation that Sacramento was having with its residents over the Kings future. Oakland is getting closer to having their own discussion, which will be all the more painful because it will involve three teams and choosing favorites.

However, the choices won’t be as simple as “build or don’t build”. There will be an array of choices, permutations, and even sites to consider. Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell noted at the outset that because the redevelopment money for the Coliseum City is supposed to be confined to that specific redevelopment area, it couldn’t be used outside the project area. Then Eric Angstadt clarified that all reasonable alternatives will be studied, including sites or options that may be outside Oakland. Who’s right? I guess we’ll find out. My immediate reaction is that if redevelopment is going away from a project/operations standpoint, what does it matter what redevelopment area it’s in?

3. 980 Park and the Ghost of Victory Court

I counted two mentions of Victory Court all night, one by Larry Reid and one by a speaker. It’s almost as if VC has been wiped from people’s memories. Just 14 months ago the Council Chambers was packed to the rafters and an overflow room was needed to hold everyone for a planning commission hearing on VC. This time, a third of the audience was on hand for a different, non-sports issue on the Council’s agenda, and they left when that issue was resolved. There were few people in the balconies, and there were plenty of seats available in the chambers for latecomers. I noticed that neither Let’s Go Oakland nor Baseball Oakland heavily promoted this session, so that may have something to do with the lower turnout.

On the other hand, 980 Park rose like a phoenix. Multiple West Oakland residents spoke in favor of it. Bryan Grunwald spoke out about it, as you’d expect. Nancy Nadel mentioned that her constituents were interested in it, and Jane Brunner pushed it forward. Brunner indicated that there were discussions with city staff about 980 Park’s feasibility, so since Coliseum City’s going through a feasibility study, might as well include 980 Park, even if it’s simply to find out if it makes any sense cost or time-wise. Redevelopment funding issue aside, it can’t hurt to include 980 Park as an alternative. One speaker rightly pointed out that if Coliseum City and its Oakland Live! concept became successful, it could seriously harm the existing downtown Oakland. Cities usually don’t have two downtowns, at least not successful ones. San Jose knows this well, as they forever killed downtown’s retail growth by approving Santana Row three miles away. Downtown Las Vegas is the low-rent, shopworn alternative to the glamour of The Strip. In the next year I can see the Council ask for a full economic impact report, explaining how creating a second downtown could have a complementary or deleterious effect on the original downtown.

That’s it for this early morning. I have a postscript item to tack on, but that will have to wait until the business day starts. Until then, comment away.

12 thoughts on “3/6/12 News Analysis

  1. What’s the timeline on EIR? Does it begin immediately or like VCR are they going to wait? I get the sense that hope is fading with Oakland-Only folks. How do you think the adult conversation games out?

  2. Can somebody tell if Oakland has any plans whatsoever to help pay for any of these stadiums/arena? What good is it to expect unwilling tenants to pay for their own facilities if it won’t happen? All wheels-spinning. If Oakland wants to help pay for the ballpark, we can all celebrate. But there has been no indication Oakland plans to increase its current pledge of $0.00 toward actual ballpark construction.

  3. For the Oakland-only readers, I’m curious. How many of you actually like the Coliseum City idea? Does the prospect of having hotels and random shops around the stadium/ballpark satisfy your wish list of what you want in a new ballpark?

    Putting feasibility and obvious logistics aside, what does Coliseum City really answer besides replacing the Coliseum building itself? Speaking just for myself, my primary reason for wanting a new ballpark is to get the A’s out of that area.

    On a different note, I’d love to see some professional renderings/sketches of a 980 ballpark. It’s such an out-of-the-box idea that I’d love for some visual evidence to remain for future generations.

  4. Maybe Oakland officials should look at Sacramento as an example, even though Sac still has plenty of work to do, and there are no guarantees.
    But Oakland, who are just as broke as Sac, could come up with a similar scheme – lease out parking garages, sell off unused land (according to the Coliseum City thing, Oakland owns a bunch of land on the bay side of the 880), or something, to help give a stadium project a big boost, then present that to Lew Wolff and MLB. Then Lew Wolff and MLB might just look at that as much more feasible then financing a project entirely by themselves.
    Being totally fed up with the T-rights bs, I’d would love to see a viable plan B. Yes, SJ would be more ideal due to the corporate market. But if there was a city/private partnership, just like Sac, then it could be beneficial for everyone. I’ve always taken the stance of “I just want a new stadium for the A’s somewhere in the Bay Area”, with SJ looking like the most viable. But if Selig/MLB can’t broker a deal with the gnats, it’d be great to have a plan B.

  5. Most interesting part of the A’s Press Release from this morning:
    MLB-recorded minutes clearly indicate that the Giants were granted Santa Clara, subject to relocating to the city of Santa Clara.”
    I don’t see an official posting of the release, but @957thegame tweeted this:

  6. Post up. The Game posted it to Twitter faster than I could request the release from Bob Rose.

  7. I was far more excited about Victory Court as an alternative than this nonsensical Coliseum City idea. Hell, I’m more excited about 980 Park than CC. At least that would actually help enhance downtown and an adjoining neighborhood. I don’t get how they couldn’t lift a finger for a modest, realistic proposal like VC, but can throw a bunch of money at studying a grandiose pipe-dream of an idea that isn’t even a very good one to begin with.

  8. I know I am in the minority, but i have always thought the 980 Park is a freaking cool idea. It may be a pipe dream, but it certainly isn’t a pipe dream on the same scale as this Coliseum City nonsense.

  9. Pingback: Oakland Athletics issue statement on territorial rights, Giants Dugout Stores » Bay Area Sports Guy

  10. The fact that Coliseum City is a non-starter is good news for the citizens of Oakland. The last thing the city needs is a project to kill the resurgence of the existing downtown. Coliseum City would be a disaster for the city, even if it could be done.
    The smartest thing the city could do is study 980 park for a new arena for the Warriors. That seems the most likely thing to actually make happen, and would actually provide a YEAR ROUND boost for downtown Oakland.

  11. Briggs, here’s a mock-up aerial view I did of the 980 park. I flipped the orientation so the park faces east instead of north, and had no way to get up to 35k capacity without decking over Brush St, so that’s what I did. I got it all to fit between 14th and 17th (I couldn’t move it any further northeast without crimping the width of it any more than I already did, and so adding the parcel between 17th and 18th would just be adding to the bleacher area, but it could be done, I suppose). First one has it overlaid on the site, second one is just the sketch I did with height views below it. It would have one deck of boxes on the 3B side and two decks on the 1B side, and seat 35,866 with dimensions of 324/369/406/369/314 according to my rough calculations.

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