Imagine a Coliseum without Mount Davis

Following up Monday’s post about Mt. Davis, here are the specifications for the Coliseum if the Raiders did not come back in 1995. The ballpark boom had begun, but the Coliseum hadn’t yet been completely overshadowed by the retro mallpark. In 1993, the Coliseum complex won a statewide architectural award. Improvements conceived by both the Coliseum and the A’s were feasible and small in scale. Compared to the $80 million $100 million $200 million renovation for the Raiders, the changes for the A’s would have been fairly modest at the outset.


4.1 Stadium Improvement Plan. Licensor (Coliseum JPA) and Licensee (A’s) have approved a scope of improvements to the Stadium as set forth in Exhibit C. In the event the Raiders have not entered into or agreed to enter into an agreement for more than ten years with Licensor for the Raiders’ use of the Stadium on or before September 30, 1995, Licensee shall have the right in its sole discretion by notice given not later than September 30, 1995, to cause Licensor to complete Stadium improvements as follows:

[a] Construction of up to 5,000 club seats and a related club lounge, for completion by March 31, 1996, and as more particularly described in Exhibit C. The total cost of the stadium improvements plan will not exceed $10 million. Licensee’s representatives will be included in all design, planning and construction meetings.

[b] Stadium improvements described in [a] above will be financed through the issuance of bonds. The bonds will be authorized in 1995 and sold as construction is implemented. It is understood that Licensor’s existing bonds will be deceased.

[c] Licensee shall have the right, at Licensee’s sole cost and obligation, to finance and cause Lincesor to construct such additional Stadium improvements as Licensor and Licensee shall mutually agree in connection with the construction of the Stadium improvements and finance plan described above.

[d] On or after November 1, 1995, either Licensor or Licensee may request the other to negotiate in good faith to approve, in the sole discretion of both parties, respectively, a Stadium improvements and finance plan to provide for the construction of improvements in addition to those set forth in Section 4.1[a] and [c] above, in an amount not to exceed $60 million and under financing terms mutually agreeable to Licensor and Licensee, provided however, to the extent permitted by such financing, Licensee shall recover the actual cost of additional Stadium improvements financed by it under Section 4.1[c] above. Licensee’s sole remedy for the parties failure to approve such a plan shall be the early termination rights described in Section 7.3 below.

[e] In order to provide amortization of the existing bonds issued by Licensor and new improvement bonds, Licensor’s revenue from the Stadium naming rights, club seat premium, together with ticket surcharge revenues would be deposited into an improvements construction fund beginning in 1995.

[f] In addition to stadium improvements, a stadium maintenance fund shall be established and funded by Licensor in the amount of $500,000 annually beginning in 1996 and escalated at 5% per year thereafter. Stadium major maintenance would be paid for from this fund annually. In the event that the transfer in any year is less than the required annual contribution, then Licensor shall deposit the shortfall. Surpluses in the improvements construction fund which are available for the transfer shall be used to offset prior years deficits.

Effectively, the renovation project would have only consisted of what is now known as the West Side Club, for $10 million ($1.2 million/year). Another $50 million could have been available over time, which would’ve been used to replace all of the orange seats and bleachers, redo the clubhouses (maybe the A’s would’ve taken the old Exhibit Hall space instead of the Raiders) while adding a batting cage, build more field boxes, maybe even remove the outfield stairs and move the bullpens there. New scoreboards would’ve required a new agreement and new funding.

All of that would’ve been nice for the 10-year lease that was under consideration. By the end of that lease, December 2004, the pressure would’ve been on to replace the Coliseum. Why? At the time, all of the old cookie-cutter stadia were in the process of being replaced. While Three Rivers and Veterans didn’t get any improvements prior to their replacement, Busch Stadium was made more baseball friendly after the football Cardinals left for Arizona and the Rams played half of the 1995 season at Busch. That arrangement lasted a decade, setting up a transition period until the current Busch was funded and built.

What we don’t know is whether or not Oakland and Alameda County would’ve given up on trying to get the Raiders back. My guess is that the various forces working to bring the team back (Don Perata, Elilu Harris, George Vukasin Sr., Scott Haggerty) would’ve kept trying, at least until Harris gave way to anti-stadium Jerry Brown. Who knows? Oakland by now may have completely established its identity as a baseball town, instead of dealing with two unsatisfied teams in, what Monte Poole called, “a house without distinction”.

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