When the season starts and you notice the A’s-themed tarps that will stay up the entire year except when replaced by Raiders-themed tarps, remember this:
It can’t be emphasized enough that whatever is planned in the future for the Coliseum, this debt has to be factored in. The City and County will want to repackage the debt in a way that takes the burden away from their respective general funds. Naturally, the A’s and Raiders probably want no part of this, considering how expensive it already is to privately build anything. Even if nothing gets built until 2018, $100 million in debt will remain, making that a sort of tax on any new stadium(s). The JPA is asking the A’s to pay more in rent, reportedly up to $3 million a year. Even then a substantial subsidy will be required. Ultimately, no deal on Coliseum City – no matter the size or scale – will go anywhere unless the outstanding debt at the Coliseum is addressed to all parties’ satisfaction. That’s a challenge as towering as Mt. Davis itself.
Added 11:30 AM – Matier and Ross have an item covering the JPA’s ongoing lease negotiations with the A’s and Raiders.
The tug-of-war for the five-year extension is over the $3 million in parking taxes that Oakland says the team owes, and over the A’s claim to about a third of the beer sales at the Coliseum – be they at an A’s game, a Raiders game, a U2 concert or any other event.
The tightrope is with the Raiders, who don’t like giving the A’s the beer money and don’t appreciate the A’s request for ballpark “improvements” that may come at the Raiders’ expense.
The parking tax referred to in the piece dates back to 2009, when Oakland unilaterally decided to enforce a long-dormant 18.75% tax per car at the Coliseum. The A’s hiked up parking fees from $15 to $17, and the price stayed there ever since. However, the A’s sat on the additional revenue while other details shook out, such as a revenue split between Oakland and Alameda County that was only settled last year. Assuming that a 2014-18 (or longer) lease extension can be worked out, the parking tax would be yet another detail to negotiate. The beer revenue split goes back to when the A’s sued the Coliseum Authority and received lease concessions, including a split on pouring rights for all events and some advertising revenues. As for the baseball-specific improvements that the Raiders may be resisting, I’m not clear on those. I’ll try to dig that up. All I know at the moment is that Lew Wolff has wanted an escape clause if the Coliseum undergoes changes for the Raiders.
Finally, M&R end on a vague note – MLB might look favorably on Oakland if a short-term deal can be worked with Wolff/Fisher or “a new set of local owners”. Perhaps, but let’s be clear on a couple of things. First, even if Wolff were to declare today that the he and John Fisher were putting the team up for sale, the actual process to vet prospective bidders (such as a Don Knauss & Co. bid) and then complete the sale would take the better part of a year or more to complete, which is of no help to the A’s immediately as they try to work out a short-term extension. Second, MLB won’t approve a sale to an East Bay-focused group unless there is an ironclad ballpark deal in place. Otherwise there’s no point because the A’s would remain revenue sharing recipients indefinitely, even though it’s written into the CBA that they’re supposed to be off revenue sharing in the next several years. Third, MLB has offered to insert itself into the lease discussions, only to be told no by Wolff. Wolff’s making a leverage play here. He did well in getting a ton of flexibility in the last two lease negotiations. This time, talks are sure to be more rancorous. If MLB wants to float a feel good item to help soften up the JPA, I’m sure Wolff won’t mind. Finally, there’s the issue that appearing to help the A’s and MLB may send the wrong message to the Raiders, who are the only team directly working with the JPA and Oakland at the moment. It’s a very fragile, fluid situation. No one said it’d be easy.