From the end of Joe Stiglich’s recap of Tuesday night’s thrilling walk-off slam win (courtesy of Mark Purdy, I assume):
A’s owner Lew Wolff said Tuesday that he would be willing to meet with Don Knauss, the Clorox chief executive officer who is spearheading the latest effort to keep the team in Oakland. But Wolff, who is traveling in Europe, said he would spend most of that meeting outlining his unsuccessful efforts to build an East Bay ballpark.
“If they want to look at all that, I would do that,” Wolff said. “I would be delighted to meet with him.”
For the sake of argument, let’s say that they meet in mid-June. That’s after the owners meetings and before the All-Star break, and without knowing the two men’s schedules, probably enough lead time to schedule something. Wolff explained what he’s going to do, which is in all likelihood to give the presentation he gave MLB some time ago. Knauss will probably try to sell Wolff on Oakland. He may or may not bring up the Giants’ T-rights. He’ll bring up his Coca-Cola/Minute Maid experience. What will he have on hand to try to refute Wolff’s case against Oakland? Keep in mind that Wolff has been working on this stadium business for longer than Knauss has been at Clorox.
Coming out of this hypothetical meeting, expect both men to have their talking points. Wolff will explain that he’s tried everything he could. Knauss will probably say that circumstances merit a fresh approach. Beyond that, what should we expect? Prepared statements? Mini press-conferences? No one should expect some great solution to come out of meeting, or that Wolff will suddenly feel like selling the franchise.
Will Oakland backers continue their PR war for the next month? Interestingly, the thrust of this campaign currently goes over Wolff’s head – appealing to John Fisher and MLB, not addressing Wolff directly.
While most fans were reading the Tribune ad from early Tuesday morning, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley penned their own op-ed in the Chronicle. From the piece:
Over the past three years, MLB has made it clear that any new A’s ballpark would require the public agencies to provide land, infrastructure and some parking while the team would finance construction. Under this type of public-private partnership, the city and county’s general fund would not be put at risk. The city and county already own the land, and only minor improvements to the infrastructure surrounding the ballpark are needed. There is ample land at the new ballpark Coliseum site to provide the team with development rights, which could assist with the financing. The parcel is large enough to meet Major League Baseball’s specifications.
That’s a curious selling point, because the reality of Coliseum City appears to be different, at least according to a case study published by the Airport Area Business Association in conjunction with Coliseum City principal JRDV and students at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. From the study:
Oakland, Taking Control of Its Destiny
The Coliseum complex presents a unique opportunity to prepare a pioneering business model that generates revenue for both public and private interests. A winning plan to finance, build, and operate a new Oakland stadium will draw upon historical data and the successes of other urban cities across the U.S. in developing projects that revitalized their surrounding communities and invigorated local and regional economies.
The estimated community benefits amount to upwards of $1.3 billion in direct spending, tax collection, employment, and wage earnings. Nonetheless, can the City of Oakland and Alameda County really afford to go down this path again given that it is still repaying its previous Coliseum bond and loan debts of at least $145 million?
Can Oakland overcome the challenges and obstacles it faces, and make the new stadium a reality? Are the withdrawal of redevelopment monies, the negative perception of Oakland (and especially Deep East Oakland) by investors, and the soft commercial real estate market insurmountable? Can the City of Oakland and Alameda County garner the public support required to approve the necessary public financing and inspire investor confidence?
It’s funny, the PR campaign hasn’t mentioned much about the difficulties Oakland and Alameda County face. It’s also curious, though not surprising, that the study has no mention of the A’s as a future tenant at Coliseum City. It only considers the Raiders and Warriors. Quan and Miley want people to believe that putting in a new ballpark is as easy as adding a bedroom onto a house. It’s all part of the disjointed narrative that the Oakland lobby continues to push: no consensus on a site, all sites are great, no broad, honest public discussion of the obstacles any project faces.
Mile wide, inch deep.
P.S. – A snippet from today’s Oakland Tribune editorial gets the tone right:
The next step — and this will likely be one of the toughest ones — is for the city to demonstrate some uncharacteristic vision. It must grab this opportunity with a firm grip and hold on with all its might.
That will mean putting asunder petty bickering and other nonsense to come together in common purpose. Not just saying the words in a photo op, mind you, but actually doing it.
When was the last time the City of Oakland accomplished a major project that didn’t turn out to be a budget-busting mess marked by political infighting and legal drama?