It was bound to happen. As the Coliseum JPA and the A’s got further into lease extension talks, they were sure to hit a snag. KTVU reports that after year of ongoing dialog, talks halted last week over the requirement for the A’s to pay $7 million in parking taxes. (Note: Six weeks ago, Matier & Ross had the number owed at only $3 million.) The issue goes back to when Oakland, looking for a way to boost tax revenues, started to enforce a 18.5% parking levy in 2009. All three tenant teams boosted rates to cover the tax, including the A’s charging $17 instead of the $15 they had charged previously. Unlike the Raiders and Warriors, the A’s pocketed the hike while the City and Alameda County fought it out over how much money the two parties and the JPA should get.
The Authority has been asking the A’s for the money for a few years, with Lew Wolff focused chiefly on plans to move to San Jose, only in the last year or so turning towards an extension at the Coliseum. Both sides indicated that discussions were going well, but it’s probably difficult to come to an agreement over $7 million when that’s more than the A’s have paid in rent the past five years. The A’s say that they don’t owe money but will pay the tax moving forward, which sounds thoroughly disingenuous considering they raised the parking rate in response to the imposition of the tax.
The County wants a bigger cut of concessions revenue, which was practically signed away to the A’s when the team and the JPA settled their post-Mount Davis lawsuit. The A’s were also burned by the JPA when they chose to take money meant to replace scoreboards and rerouted it towards the Coliseum City study.
For their part, the A’s will only say that “The disputed items are subject to arbitration or possibly incorporated in a new five-year lease extension.” Arbitration could easily put the A’s on the losing end, paying the full $7 million, but if they’re aware of that and they could somehow get less through negotiation or arbitration, holding out is not a bad tactic. They know that the City’s and County’s stance is to go ofter them hard as the A’s have really nowhere to go while a move to San Jose sits in limbo.
The A’s abruptly cut off talks for now, which itself may be a negotiation tactic of sorts. Is Wolff willing this to go straight to arbitration, or does he want to wait until after the baseball ends to pick up talks again? If they, it’s not likely that everyone at the table will suddenly become nicer.
P.S. – I did some quick and dirty math on this. The City imposed the tax start in July 2009. That left 3.5 years of tax accrual before the start of the 2013 season. 5000 spaces * 3.5 years * 82 games * 18.5% = $4.5 million. Not $3 million, not $7 million. Free Parking Tuesdays and last year’s playoff parking revenue are not accounted for.