Coliseum lease negotiations stall over parking taxes

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.

27 thoughts on “Coliseum lease negotiations stall over parking taxes

  1. Why doesn’t Wolfe pay his taxes? Because he doesn’t want to? I wish I could get away with that.

    We’ve been paying the extra $2 the last few years. I guess he feels entitled to just stick that in his pocket. I’d rather give $2 to a homeless guy, a vet, someone who could use it. What a bum.

  2. These negotiating issues between the A’s and the Coliseum Authority would be moot, if and when the A’s sign a short-term lease to become temporary tenants of the Giants at AT&T Park. I believe this scenario could happen as part of a settlement compensation package with the Giants to allow the A’s to move to San Jose.

  3. At what point do the A’s start waving Las Vegas and Sacramento at the Coliseum Authority? “Think we have no place to go? Think again. It’s not like we’re tearing up the league in attendance in Oakland.”

  4. @llpec: The A’s sharing temporarily AT&T Park is a fascinating possibility. Even though it’s highly unlikely, stranger things have happened in MLB so who knows? It would be huge blow to Oakland to not only lose the A’s to SJ, but to have the A’s make a pit stop in SF too.

  5. @ freddy: I get your point, but we’re talking about the Oakland Athletics organization, not Lew Wolff. It’s a business attempting to skirt paying some taxes to maximize their revenue, not Lew Wolff personally sticking it to the City of Oakland.

  6. Well, since the City of Oakland has been sticking it to the A’s for the past 18 years…
    I’m confident that this hang up over the lease is what’s keeping MLB from formally announcing anything re San Jose. Will be interesting how this turns out. Seems pretty strange, but this could be the last year the A’s play in Oakland. In the end however I do hope they work out a short term lease. I place the odds at 50/50.
    Freddy, I’m a proud vet of this nations military, but you can keep your $2 thank you very much..

  7. Imminent announcement #538

  8. It looks like Oakland wants to extract more money from the A’s, who are already heavily subsidized by the rest of MLB because they do not make enough money to sustain themselves. Not sure how this move gives MLB an incentive to keep the team there long-term.

  9. A’s at AT&T? Only gonna happen in interleague games fellas. More likely the A’s play in Vegas or Railey than SF on a temp basis. Come to think of it Railey in an expanded version would be better long-term home than anything in the Bay Area given the price tag and hopeless nature of the SJ situation. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about this possibility?

  10. Regarding the rerouted scoreboard funds towards Coliseum City study: I shudder to think of attending a game in 2018 with 7,000 in the stands and those horrible horrible HORRIBLE scoreboards still in use.

  11. This seems pretty cut and dry to me. The A’s owe the City of Oakland several million dollars from parking tax revenue. Maybe they come to a deal, but they did raise prices $2, to cover the tax. You don’t have to be smarter than a 5th grader to figure this out.

    Like it or not, this will just reinforce the Lew Wolff is a cheapskate feeling that many A’s fan share.

    • @David – Here’s the problem David: Selig wants the Coliseum Authority to forgive some if not all of the money owed as a show of “good faith” for future ballpark negotiations. Don’t be surprised if the A’s and MLB were in cahoots on the withheld taxes.

  12. Ignore trolling. R.M., I asked this previously but I’ll try again; at what point in the near future would the A’s have to seriously plan on playing somewhere else in 2014? I would reckon for sure by January 2014, but perhaps a lot earlier than that (?). Future ballpark negotiations in Oakland? That’s a good one!

  13. @ML – I can see that. That’s why I mentioned a deal. But, that money will have to be accounted for in some way.

    @TonyD – Why does everyone whose opinion differs from yours, have to be a troll? Wouldn’t being banned from a website be trollish? Which one of us have been given a timeout by the webmaster?

  14. Mia Balzich says: “A’s at AT&T? Only gonna happen in interleague games fellas. More likely the A’s play in Vegas or Railey than SF on a temp basis. Come to think of it Railey in an expanded version would be better long-term home than anything in the Bay Area given the price tag and hopeless nature of the SJ situation. Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about this possibility?”

    A’s to Raley/Expanding Raley has been covered here in detail, check the archives…

  15. Agree Mark – as an A’s fan, you couldn’t to pay me to attend a game at phonebooth park (even if the park would be temporarily used as an A’s home) We’ll see how hopeless the A’s in SJ becomes when local officials actually take the gnats managment and/or MLB to court about the issue. Selig and MLB will likely cave in as quickly as when the Tampa Rays owners group challenged the MLB ATE.

  16. The A’s and JPA are going to settle this by the fall. The latest the A’s begin selling their 2014 season tickets is December and there’s no way the A’s are playing at a AAA park until “Cisco Field at City Everyone Approves Of” is ready to open.

  17. I’m curious as to what the A’s would be able to pull in attendance-wise in SF at AT&T. It’s in the middle of Giantstown, parking would still be crazy expensive and many East Bay based fans would not go.

    In San Jose at a temporary location you would at least have the corporations and the fans who think the drive to SF is inconvenient. Even a temporary location in Fremont might be better.

  18. Yeah, it’s hard to see how raising the parking prices on account of tax, and then not paying said tax, is anything but real life trollish.
    My job requires negotiating. This is, potentially, a “scorched earth” kind of negotiating tactic.

  19. Briggs, it’s actually earlier than December. The A’s have to have a season ticket plan in place when they issue playoff tickets (OK, I’m being optimistic), since they make a lot of money by not refunding unused games but offering credit on the next year’s season tix.

  20. Hypothetically, I say the A’s see 1.7-1.9m through the gates at AT&T. I suspect they will be an uproar the first few weeks, but then people will come around. I don’t think that many people’s sense of pride is that tied into where the A’s play their home games once the rubber hits the road.

  21. @Briggs: Two teams in SF might be too much baseball for that city. In a normal large city, it might be ok, but with the shape of the Bay Area and the bottlenecks to the commute, I think it’s too close. Temporarily I think they’d be better off in Fremont or SJ (assuming they would be allowed). This is, of course, not accounting for an AT&T deal as part of the TR transfer.

    As far as people’s pride… you are correct. Most A’s fans are -A’s- fans, and not -Oakland- fans and would probably show up regardless. I would love to see some of the hardest “Oakland Only” folks as they make their way into AT&T Park as a temp home or Cisco Field in SJ. (But I guess that’s probably mean, right? We should just be happy when this is all done.)

  22. “I’m curious as to what the A’s would be able to pull in attendance-wise in SF at AT&T.”

    @LoneStranger, It can’t be any worse than what the A’s are drawing at the Coliseum right now. In fact, playing in an aesthetically beautiful major league ballpark as is AT&T Park will in fact be a big plus for A’s fans, especially as compared with their current ballpark venue. Actually, I am more interested in the potential revenue generating bonanza for the Giants, even on a temporary basis, in having the A’s as tenants. This could be just the deal breaker to allow the A’s to move to San Jose.

  23. In another what if scenario it would be interesting to see the A’s play at AT&T. Sadly that will never happen unless the A’s are willing to pony up and meet the Giants demands if there are any. Since we don’t know what is going on behind the scenes, we just have to resign ourselves to the fact that the A’s are stuck at the O.Com until the fat lady sings. The A’s should do the right thing for city and it’s fans and pay the taxes.

  24. @David,
    Smart ass remarks about “imminent announcements” and calling San Jose hopeless is trolling; trying to bait others into senseless arguments. I’m ignoring that stuff now. Stating an honest opinion, as you have hundreds of times, is not trolling; we can agree to disagree. Yes, I was banned last year for going over the top with some commentary, but after being around since 2005, it was bound to happen sooner or later. No one’s perfect..

  25. @TonyD – Please show me and anyone else here when I said anything about “imminent announcements” or calling SJ “hopeless”?

    Dude, you are putting every contributor who doesn’t fit into your narrative into one package. I never said any of that and whoever did, doesn’t deserve to be called out, as a troll, by you. Maybe you should take another break form the on-going stadium drama.

  26. @David,
    I never said you said any of that stuff (read my post again and all the comments on this thread for details). Relax..

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