The no-threat threat

As of yesterday’s Minnesota legislature-approved stadium plan for the Vikings, Minnesotans have approved some $1.85 billion in new venues since 2005-06. Only a year ago it was believed that the Vikings drew the short straw as the University of Minnesota’s football program (TCF Bank Stadium) and the Minnesota Twins (Target Field) got funding before the recession kicked in. Maybe it’s a sign of a recovering economy, or merely another successful negotiating session by the NFL. In any case, from the looks of things the Vikings will be in Minneapolis for decades to come.

HKS-penned Metrodome replacement. Retractable roof optional, to be paid for by team.

Not that it wasn’t without some 11th-hour heartache. As the plan stalled in the legislature, Vikings owner Zygi fueled up the jet and took a meeting in Los Angeles, which was exactly the panic-induced catalyst the issue needed to move forward.

Three venues. $1.8 billion and counting. All three took enormous amounts of horse-trading in the legislature, and some politically iffy maneuvering to avoid public votes. Ugly as it was, it got done. That’s a major difference from how things are done in California, which is to say that here things are either done relative smoothly or not at all.

The Vikings’ staying leaves four teams with some kind of stadium project on the table:

  • Buffalo. No new stadium is being requested at this point, only a $200 million renovation to Ralph Wilson Stadium. Results from a recent phone poll suggest that the Bills should by ponying up a major share of the cost, which is permissible within the NFL’s new G-4 program. A study being readied by Populous which explains the costs and options in detail is due out later this year.
  • Jacksonville. With new ownership, talk of stadium changes or a new stadium has ceased. It’s not hard to see it ramp up again after the honeymoon period ends, probably after the 2012 season.
  • San Diego. The Chargers have absolutely nothing going on regarding a new stadium anywhere in the metro area. The region is immersed in grief over the tragic death of Junior Seau, and it’s going to take a while to recover. A capacity crowd may show up today at Qualcomm Stadium to honor former Charger great. As this subsides, the drama over what the Spanos family will or could do with the team will start up again.
  • Oakland. The Coliseum City study continues for now, and Mark Davis has indicated that he’d like for Dublin to be a backup plan, which is not a bad idea if Dublin is interested – which is questionable at this point. Past talk about the Raiders running out of money appears to have died down. Al Davis was always good about getting the best lawyers working for him, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that he would have a well-conceived succession and estate plan. After all, if there’s one thing Davis had in spades, it’s foresight.
  • St. Louis. The Rams have released a 15-item list of upgrades that will be required to put Edward Jones Dome in the “first tier” of NFL stadia, per their lease. The upgrade list, whose price tag could run $200-450 million, is expected to be released Monday. The onerous lease terms have the City by the short hairs, though it’s expected that the NFL will provide some G-4 funds to the Rams to sugarcoat the deal. At the top of the list is a retractable roof. To accomplish that goal, St. Louis should look to the Vancouver’s BC Place renovation project, which included both a novel retractable roof and a curtaining system for CFL and MLS games, plus a Cowboys Stadium-like centerhung scoreboard. The price for that project was $563 million, though it should be noted that as an older venue BC Place required far greater scope of work, especially because it was done in two phases sandwiching the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Of the four teams in “flux”, only St. Louis is in any kind of advanced stage of negotiations. Even then there’s still time as their window to vacate doesn’t open until 2015. The Raiders could leave after 2013, and I expect that they’ll use Santa Clara, Dublin, and maybe LA as leverage against Oakland/Alameda County to get the concessions they’re looking for, even if it doesn’t make any sense from the NFL’s perspective (loaning $400 million for two Bay Area stadia).

In other words, there are no immediate crises. One or two are somewhat looming. None of these situations requires the kind of effort that was made for the Vikings. The team’s lease expired after the 2011 season, creating a crisis scenario that propelled talks. As the other teams’ scenarios advance in the next year or so, we can expect to see more action on their plans.

52 thoughts on “The no-threat threat

  1. Interesting, although the Raiders don’t really need to use LA as leverage with the Oakland Coliseum when Dublin or Santa Clara would probably do the trick. Marine Layer does San Antonio Texas play a role in any relocation possibility for certain teams like the Jaguars? Some believe San Antonio could support a pro football team. Could the Bills possibly still go to Toronto in a new stadium? I am glad the Vikings are staying in Minnesota, there is too much history to break that up. I would not rule out the Rams possibility going back to LA in the short term future if they can’t get the upgrades to their existing stadium.

  2. If they could pull it off and get a new stadium deal done, San Antonio could lure the Jaguars but I imagine the Cowboys and Texans have a vested interest in keeping a third football team out of Texas.

  3. OT – good turnout tonight. Oakland proponents are grasping at straws now: ” I love T – Rights.”

  4. @Anon – Might as well be yelling “Let’s go Giants”. That’s what it translates into.

  5. That “I love T-Rights” sign was painted by Jorge Leon. I kid you not.

    That BC Place video is really cool. In the early 2000’s for ESPN took over broadcasting the Pete Newell Challenge (mistakenly moved the game to Saturday daytime, which lead its demise) near sellout crowds of 20,000 could be expected every year. Indiana came in, followed by North Carolina, Duke and Michigan State. The tournament crowds have been great in both Oakland and San Jose over the years. If these corporate types really want to show their love for Oakland, helping to finance a retractable roof stadium at the Coliseum site could get into regular rotation for the Final Four. The revenue from that venue could make additional investment worthwhile. It’s highly unlikely that would happen. But if Oakland really doesn’t want to develop the site and maximize revenue returns, I hope it gets at least a look before being dismissed.

  6. Is that what that retarded sign says a couple rows away from me?

  7. Those guys think they are doing a sit in at Berkeley in 1969… Slogans and crappy signs are awesome for comedic value, but not much else.

  8. I meant to say if Oakland does want to maximize returns. Oops. I need to proof read before I hit submit.

  9. Attendance: 26,000+. Of course, they were giving out those blankets tonight…

  10. Trot out the negative nancy’s anti-oakland posters again. Nobody can be happy about a decent crowd and a nice win.

    Bleacher signs have been a mainstay for decades. Sorry there aren’t any “San Jose, Here We Come!!” banners.

  11. @JGMJ – I’d rather let the game be the game and leave the rhetoric for the press conferences, PR campaigns, and paid newspaper ads.

  12. Marine Layer – typical response. go a’s.

  13. @JGMJ – Got a problem with what I wrote?

  14. OT – Just got back….great night. Felt like the old times circa 2000 with Reddick banging out a couple of dingers (man does he remind me of a young pre-roided Giambi)! While the sign out in RF was comical (you’re right ML – might as well say “Giants PWNZ us PLZ!), i must say i was a little sentimental listening to all the Let’s Go Oakland chants tonight. I really, really wish we didn’t have such passive East Bay fanatics who like to strut out one PR campaign after another instead of actually producing something that is actually newsworthy (i looked all over the Coliseum and didn’t see any of Knauss’ EB groups have any sponsorship anywhere). I wish there was a way, I really do, because the will is there…..if 25K + people show up every night like they did tonight, I’m sure LW/JF/BS would listen…..sigh. 😦

  15. That was rather well written and fair to both sides while not really playing it out like a good vs evil mentality that most of these articles written about the A’s of late have been.

  16. Date: May 10, 1997
    FInal score: Giants 4, Cubs 2
    Location: 3Com Park
    Attendance: 17,074
    Giants’ Record: 20-13, 1/2 GB
    “Great win by the team tonight. And we’re only a 1/2 game out of first in the division! But… sigh… only 17,074 at the game tonight. This low number must surely mean there is no local support for the team left. Personally I don’t think it has anything to do with our aging facility and lack of a new stadium with other amenities nearby that might attract additional fans to come out and buy tickets. I bet even if we had a new downtown stadium in a great waterfront location, it wouldn’t make any difference. Better to just assume that because our attendance is so low on a Saturday night game like this, there’s no point in even exploring this city as a viable option for keeping the team here. And even if there was a “spike” in attendance for a given game, its obviously going to be due to a giveaway or some other promotion that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual fan base. Boy, its a good thing we don’t have owners who said they want to move our team to any other city except this one, or we’d really have no fans coming out, then we’d really get nobody to come out and spend their hard-earned money on tickets.”

  17. @JH510 – I bet there was around 100k people at home watching, while the A’s would celebrate 40k people tuning in tonight. The Knauss plan calls for $100 million in seat licenses. If you want the A’s to stay in Oakland, GREAT! Get together with Baseball Oakland and LGO and open escrow accounts. Find a way to pledge money. Find a way to publicly open up your wallets and show the financial power of the Oakland A’s fan. That would sway public opinion, and maybe MLB’s as well. That needs to be the real goal of any “stAy” effort. It’s going to be necessary under the proposed financing of a “Knauss Stadium”. Right now this Knauss group has $1 million is escrow to show how serious they are. That’s $1 million for a project that could balloon over $1 billion, if they end up buying the team. That’s probably not going to impress MLB. Just a guess. The PR this past week has been brilliant – as far as being anti-Wolff. You want to be pro Oakland? Pro Knauss? Pony up.

  18. Why isn’t Lew Wolff looking at Camp Parks? The Tri-Valley area never really has gotten serious consideration and really deserves a look due to demographics, proximity to the fan base, and corporate prescence. I’ll betcha the next A’s owner will see it differently.

    • @Georob – Have you seen the track record for redeveloping and rehabilitating military property in California? Makes this ballpark business look like a picnic.

  19. Oakland certainly has most of the public and media on its side in efforts to keep the A’s. Even I would like them to stay, given the 44 years of history and all the A’s have done and continue to do for the East Bay community. But lost in all this is Oakland’s official apathy for the A’s ballpark needs for 20 years, a long record of poor attendance even when the A’s are winning and the lack of both a suitable East Bay site and a financing mechanism. Rolling out one PR campaign after another and neat “StAy” t shirts won’t site and pay for a ballpark.

  20. 25k buy tickets and some of you are complaining? “you” say show how much you value the team by showing up and spending money. Friday night was one game, i get that. But do know … the more folks who show up, the more anti-Wolff signs will show up. I’m not usually a sign guy, but me and my oldest will bring one to the next game.

  21. David: Would be nice if 25K showed up without having to lure them in with those free blankets. I have a couple of those in my closet from previous years. Too nice to use. The Giants get 40,000 for a Tuesday night game against non-marquee teams, with no giveaways. The A’s? Not so much.

  22. Please tell me there would be the same uproar if there was a banner that said “Selig – Do Away With T-Rights – Let Us Move To San Jose.”

    Additionally, bleacher banners have been used for non-on-the-field topics for years. For example “Don’t Take Our A’s Away,” “Lew Wolff Hates Oakland,” and “Keep Our A’s In Oakland.”

    Nice post JH510 – keeps things in perspective.

    • @JGMJ – Signs that aren’t related to the game or players are a distraction. No better than “John 3:16” or “Eliminate Me”. Have some respect for the game and stop making it about you.

  23. The Giants have one of the most beautiful parks in the majors, the A’s have blankets. It is what it is right now.

  24. Slogans painted on bedsheets don’t do a damn thing… I mocked the “Lew Wolff Hates Oakland” sign then. Just like the stupid “Slum Lord Billionaire” sign… I have told both Jorge Leon and Mike Davie that they are ridiculous directly (via the internet).
    I actually tried to find Jorge at a game once to say hi, but he was gone (it was a game that started way late due to rain and the A’s absolutely destroyed the Angels so leaving early wasn’t exactly a cardinal sin).
    If someone hung a move the A’s to San Jose banner I’d likewise laugh about it. It reminds me of seeing a car with the back plastered in bumper stickers with political slogans. People who want ot get somehting done, do something. And no, hanging stupid signs in a sports stadium, much like plaster your car with “Obama/Bush is a the Village Idiot” doesn’t count.

  25. JGMJ,

    How is that list of folks who have committed to PSL’s for an Oakland stadium coming? Because the one for AT&T Park was pretty well filled up, despite the fact that Candlestick Park was mostly empty.

  26. I don’t mind the signs. Sure, at the end of the day they will accomplish next to noting, but they allow the fans of your team the ability to voice their passions. This whole potential move or the trading of fan favorites or the glorifying of current favorites are all connected to the team. Voicing pleasure/displeasure about your team is a sporing tradition.

  27. pjk, everyone has giveaways. Its really not that big of a deal. I am sad I was unable to go last night, because fleece blanket night is one of my faves (I still have some from a few years back with the Oakland skyline on them). It gives me some awesome swag that is functional (unlike bobbleheads, I love those just because it pisses my wife off that they take up a shelf in my house).
    There were 27k there last night. It sounded awesome on the radio. The night before, when I was at the game, there were probaby 6k… But it felt like 2 million when an oppo Grand Slam was sINGEd into the Oaktown sky.
    Let’s all stick to real shit… Which is, building a new stadium requires $500M. Without public funds, 2 million a season won’t finance the thing.

  28. I must say, my favorite sign is the Josh Reddick championship belt. I grew up wanting to be either Rickey Henderson or the Ultimate Warrior someday… Instead I became a geek. Good for him that Josh Reddick gets to be both, sort of.

  29. Voicing your opinion is kool and is the American way. But seriously, if you want to be heard, what speaks louder: Bedsheets proclaiming that you love the Gnats owning you or money deposited in for furure PSLs/STs? If you’re trying to grab attention for yourself, the former seems to be semi-effective. If you’re trying to persuade the owner and MLB, i guarantee you the ladder is what definitely gets their attention. And of course LW haters like Jorge Leon will also dismiss the notion that nice attendance also means it’s less about ownership and more about cheap tickets and giveaways.

  30. If I was working for Oakland’s keep the A’s team… I’d be calling Winnipeg for pointers.

  31. @Jefferey I wanted to be a Road Warrior or Bushwhacker, myself. Looking back at the whole spikes and head licking stuff, I think it’s a good thing I chose college, instead.

  32. ohhhhhhhhhhhhh What a rush!!!!!!!!!!

  33. Funny – I was wondering why the big screen showed a guy holding up a belt. I used to so be into NWA with Hawk and Animal as my favs along with The Ultimate Warrior, Lex Lugar, and company. I had almost forgotten about those old days until now. The memories…

  34. My original fave, though we are going way off topic, was Junk Yard Dog… Grab Them Cakes, yo!
    Back on topic… errr, The Road Warriors started in the AWA which once held it’s big wrestling events at the Metrodome. They rode in on Harleys. It WAS Epic and on ESPN at the time.

  35. I watched it a little as a kid, but usually only when I was over at a friend’s house. I didn’t start watching wresting religiously until I graduated from high school and started taking calculus from the junior college. I found that it was a great distraction. 😉 I was really into WCW, and off-and-on WWF/E. It was sad business when AOL/Turner ditched WCW for pennies to WWE. Glad there is some competition in TNA, but most of the time when I think one of the companies is starting to do something right, they botch it.

  36. Demolition > The Road Warriors

  37. The Rams will for sure use L.A. as major leverage to get St. Louis to upgrade their facility with public dollars as Minnesota just did recently.

    The Raiders should move into Santa Clara temporarily in 2014 to force Oakland and Alameda County to get off their asses and get a new Coliseum erected at the current location.

    By moving to Santa Clara, it gives Oakland great motivation as the Raiders will still use the Oakland name and be in the general market thus not alienating the fans the way Al Davis did when he moved the team to Los Angeles.

  38. @JGMJ, JH510, and Burton- You guys need to understand regardless of $$ the A’s cannot stay in Oakland nor the East Bay as there is no where to build.

    They looked at Laney College, Howard Terminal, Victory Court, Pleasanton, Fremont, Uptown, Coliseum, Coliseum North and 9th to Oak. What did the A’s find?

    They found transportation issues, businesses unwilling to move, and utility problems such as immovable sewer lines (Howard Terminal, Victory Court, 9th to Oak, Coliseum North), freeway problems (Pleasanton, as everyone drives home that direction in the evening on I-580), and Fremont, where local businesses and citizens drove it to the ground.

    To fix the issues and just to say hello would cost Oakland 100s of millions of dollars as in the case of Victory Court….250M just to say hello.

    The Coliseum has never been ideal and even Knauss and Co. admit that. That site was never considered after the Raiders moved back and the planned baseball only renovation was given up on.

    To consider it now is straight up a PR move by Oakland and a poor one at that. The days of building stadiums in parking lots in bad neighborhoods are over and the A’s need a Downtown urban setting and San Jose is all that is left in the Bay Area.

    To build at the Coliseum would harm the Raiders and Warriors and where would the A’s play in the meanwhile?

    Uptown was the best location but that rat bastard Jerry Brown sold off that land to developers who had him in their back pockets……That was the only true feasible site. I still believe if Oakland had any other mayor at that time the A’s would be in Uptown right now and this blog would not exist.

    In the end guys, there is not a site that can be built on without Oakland paying 100s of millions of dollars that they do not have just to get the site ready.

    PSLs, corporate sponsors, affluent fans mean zero without a viable site to build on. Wolff and Fisher know this and the BRC knows this full well.

    Hence why the BRC stays quiet as they know the facts and if one of those sites I mentioned above was viable, MLB would force Wolff and Fisher to try to build there anyway possible.

    The last thing Selig wants to do is force the A’s into San Jose which he knew would be an uphill battle that he did not want to fight.

    Those are the facts guys, to say anything else is simply lying to yourself.

    You will see once Knauss sits down with Wolff he will become very quiet for the foreseeable future.

    Only the BRC knows the facts and they stay quiet after 1154 days and counting……..San Jose is the only way and the A’s are trying to find their way.

  39. Bryan Grunwald’s 980 park is looking better and better as time goes on…

  40. Oh Larry, what in the world are you thinking? Demolition was a sad ripoff of the Road Warriors 🙂
    Bill, as we allay recall, I once called that the sensible, if overlooked, alternative. At a minimum it is a cool idea. It doesn’t have support from the people it would need support from.

  41. Sid, in 2001 Steve Schott offered $100M towards construction of a park at the Coliseum. It never went anyway (the other tenants opposed and there was no source of funding identified for the rest)

  42. @ ML or Jeffrey – A bit OT. I just read some comments in an article from a few days ago and someone made a post as “guest” saying the following: “Specifically, the list of corporations that are on public record supporting the A’s staying in Oakland, include 5 with revenues over 4 billion dollars last year: Levi Strauss, Genentech, Safeway, Clorox, Kaiser-Permanente. Meanwhile there are 4 corporations of that size that have publicly expressed support for the A’s to relocate to the South Bay: Cisco Systems, Yahoo!, Ebay, and Adobe Systems.” I normally don’t put much weight into posters, especially anonymous ones. Also, I’m aware of the SVLG letter to Selig with all of those companies. I suppose I’m wondering if you’ve heard of anything like this poster said? What made me double-take was their insistence that they are on “public record.” What does that mean? Committed to luxury seats, premium seats, naming rights? The reason I ask is this is the first I’ve heard of Levi Strauss and Genentech being supporters of the A’s in Oakland. Athough I do understand LS is the company that Haas ran so that may not be a surprise. Thanks in advance.

  43. @jeffrey that is not a welcome reminder for the Oakland only people who boycott games but that was an awesome game. Can’t wait till I get to the colseum

  44. probably they are listed on lets go oakland’s web site.

  45. @ Jeffrey – Thanks. I thought about that but so are many other companies. Just because a retired VP is on that list doesn’t necessarily mean the company itself is on “public record” for this. Maybe this poster is just pulling stuff out of his arse.

  46. Genetech is owned by Roche- a company that is notorious for being tight fisted- doubt that they would allow one ofmtheir subsidiaries to invest heavily in a sports team- sounds like more of an individual rather than a company

  47. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was just that someone who used to work at Genentech is listed on LGO’s site and that is being conflated with actual Genentech support. Honestly, I’d stick to paying attention to the companies that were at The Knauss Major Event! as companies that support keeping the team in Oakland. But then again, I am not running a PR campaign meant to make people. Eli’s e Coliseum City is the wave of the future and can be done by 2017, either.

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