Might as well dream big

Coliseum City strikes me as the City of Oakland’s equivalent of playing a big lottery like Mega Millions or Powerball. The chances are infinitesimal at best, yet they can’t win if they don’t play. So they’re putting in a few million dollars to get some studies done in hopes of a lot of circumstances falling very neatly for them to keep the three current tenants at the Coliseum complex.

Never was this more evident than in the Oakland Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, when the City gave more details on the plan. It’s expansive, to put it mildly.
  • 68 – 72,000 seat NFL stadium with 1.8-2.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.6 acres
  • 35 – 39,000 seat ballpark with 1.2 million square feet of space, covering 12.3 acres
  • 18 – 20,000 seat arena with 850,000 square feet space, covering 5 acres
  • 14 million square feet of office, R&D, commercial, and retail space
  • 6,370 housing units
  • 15,000 parking spaces at Coliseum site (mostly through garages, existing site has 10,000 spaces)
The word expansive is often trailed closely by the word expensive. At a conservative $150 per square foot, the non-parking buildout alone hits $2.1 billion, closer to $3 billion when including the additional stadium development costs. Either is an astounding figure, and for anyone who actually operates in the commercial real estate development world or has even basic knowledge of the Oakland market, a truly puzzling one. This is redevelopment era thinking in a post-redevelopment world.
Coliseum City Specific Plan

Coliseum City Specific Plan

The facilities described in the project summary would be among the largest and most expensive in the nation respectively. The football stadium would rival Cowboys Stadium in scope, and while there’s no mention of a dome, there’s no way to get the kind of flexibility the City is aiming for without a dome. Cowboys Stadium was built with a $300 million loan from the City of Arlington, yet City Administrator Fred Blackwell “defiantly” stated that the era of publicly financed stadia was over. All Mayor Jean Quan talks about so far is EB-5 funding or grants to provide infrastructure. Infrastructure will probably end up being 10% of the cost of the project in the end. From the looks of things that will include:
  • A new transit hub, including a widened, more pedestrian-friendly bridge from the BART station to the stadium complex
  • Two additional bridges that span I-880 to the arena and greater development west of the freeway
  • An elevated, landscaped public space that connects everything
  • A revitalized Damon Slough
  • A new water inlet leading from San Leandro Bay to the arena
  • Many new garages
Just this list of items is going to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s a lot of new concrete construction – particularly the bridges, plus land acquisitions, and reshaping of waterfront areas. And let’s also consider the whopping 6,310 housing units. That’s twice as big as the finally reborn Brooklyn Basin project and nearly two-thirds of the way to Jerry Brown’s famed 10k plan, which was largely done under redevelopment. And note that in the map there’s a Ballpark District, which contains housing. Any chance of that getting built if the A’s aren’t there? Not likely.
Furthermore, how on earth is any of this going to be paid for? Something has to drive private development to gamble its own money on the other 90%, and it’s not clear what that is. East Bay Citizen noted that a meeting of East Bay business luminaries will be held to assess corporate capabilities in the region for the Raiders stadium. That’s a start. The stadium will be at least $1 billion to construct. Understand, however, that the East Bay alone isn’t going to cut it. Anyone without blinders on knows that the East Bay’s corporate strength is not a strong suit. Similar to what Kevin Johnson did in Sacramento, East Bay interests need to attract a lot of money from within the Greater Bay Area and outside it to convince anyone that the stadium is feasible. It’s going to be even tougher because the stadium will be twice as expensive as the planned arena.
Some on the Planning Commission rightly asked about how anything would be paid for, a question that went without a real response. Oakland officials can keep talking hope and pie-in-the-sky concepts as much as they want. They can only duck behind that for so long. Eventually they’ll need to reveal the price tag. When they do, they’ll have no place to hide.

48 thoughts on “Might as well dream big

  1. EB-5 seems like something too small for this magnitude. Ratner used that funding for Barclays in Brooklyn, but that was only $1 Billion which is a huge amount. Where else would she expect grants from? TEA-LU cash would only give you a small amount for transpo infrastructure work. There is no CRA money since there are no more CRAs. Could they set-up Mello-Roos? It’s too big a bite to make for a city in Oakland’s fiscal shape.

  2. Fred Blackwell: did you not follow what just happened in Sacramento?

  3. Same old, same old. Big ideas, no way to pay for any of it. A waste of time.

  4. Such negativity from the haters. Obviously it is a big Longshot plan, but Oakland is currently going on the $1B army base project, just got the $1.5B Brooklyn Basin project, and looks like the even bigger Oak Knoll project is restarting.

    I believe in sports that’s referred to as momentum.

  5. Who in their right mind would want to live next to where the Raiders play their home games?

  6. So can we officially stop talking about HT as being another site in Oakland- they have put all their eggs in this basket. Like Jeffrey said does Blackwell live in a hole? How could he not be aware of what just happened in Sacto which from my perspective is the model that Oakland needs to follow in terms of a 50% public subsidy if it hopes to keep any of it’s teams-

  7. Oakland’s hope is that the teams have no place else to go and will be forced to build in Oakland with their own money. That’s pretty much it. Oakland can’t spend money on stadiums.

  8. @das88 – Let’s wait until shovels are in the ground for Brooklyn Basin and Oak Knoll before we start calling it momentum. Besides, BB is using $26 million in RDA funds. Is there something similar for Coliseum City?

  9. @marine layer

    Yep, the similar funding is the TOD component.

    I also don’t understand why people keep making a big deal out of $26M public contribution to a $1.5B project.

    • @Das88 – You mean the TOD component that died when Measure B1 was defeated last November? I suppose they can try again this November, or next.

      The issue with the $26M is that there is little evidence any money is coming besides the City’s pledge and the EB-5 investment (government visas). Where’s Signature’s piece or anyone else’s?

  10. Despite this Coliseum City plan to be totally unrealistic, this plan could be enticing enough for Selig and MLB to further give reason for a delay in having to make a decision regarding a future home for the A’s. Everyone knows that the Coliseum site will have to be redeveloped down the road, regardless of the future of the three sports teams currently playing at that locale. However, I don’t see any redevelopment there for at least ten years, given the current economic climate and the current attitudes of state and local govt. towards direct help in funding such projects. That said, I don’t believe there will be enough of a time duration to save the A’s and Warriors in Oakland, but a significantly downsized Coliseum City plan could include a football stadium for the Raiders. A temporary move by the Raiders to Santa Clara could give the Raiders time flexibility for a possible return to a new stadium at a smaller scaled redeveloped Coliseum site.

  11. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/02/oakland-most-exciting-city_n_3202553.html

    And big shout out to Dubs Nation. Again spotlight was on Oakland and the media couldn’t stop talking about the great crowd in Oakland. Beautiful night in the 510!

    llpec…..A’s arent going to SJ and the Warriors will never get that arena built on the pier. They either get punked by the Giants and be south of Lame T&T or come back with tail between their legs and get on board with Coliseum City

    I can’t wait until all 3 teams still playing in Oakland in 2018…..all the naysayers and haters will disappear….MarineLayer will be around tho

    Oh yeah Sharks fans…….good job on the win. I wont hate on the Sharks in SJ…that’s your team! Revenge tour= 2013 playoffs? You owe the Canucks….You owe the Ducks….You owe the Blackhawks. Eventhough its a strike shortened season this could be a year to breakthrough. Niemi is a shutdown goalie and Shark Tank is a rather a loud place. Us in the East Bay dont want our A’s in SJ…but we definitely not gonna be against the Sharks winning…..so good luck I say!

  12. Das88, what specific TOD funds are you referring too and how much is available?
    I think the big deal with BB is that there is really only about $50M that has been raised to start the project. Half of which are funds that are from the defunct RDA. It’s still a pretty murky situation. Hey, but there was a press conference and all…

  13. re: can’t wait until all 3 teams still playing in Oakland in 2018

    …There’s a good chance that will be the case. But they’ll be in the same obsolete facilities, not new ones…I’m still wondering why I wear shirts that say “Oakland” on them but the Warriors don’t.

  14. @ GoA’s – unfortunately, JQ is still talking about HT as an alternate to CC (see Baseball Oakland interview). With all these pipedream projects flying left and right, Oakland really needs to align on one singular proposal if they have any realistic chance of making it happen. I wish them luck, but odds are well against them given the past history, financials, and of course, politicis.

  15. @ 510 Savage – if you didn’t realize it already, the “Oakland” crowd for the W’s, is actually a Bay Area crowd congregating in Oakland for the game and leaving the area immediately afterwards for other areas . A more representative “Oakland” crowd would of been the A’s one shown in last years playoffs, however where are they now? 😦

  16. I’m guessing the A’s would continue playing at the Coliseum while the new ballpark went up next door, à la Riverfront/Great American Ballpark. While I’m staunching against the A’s playing anywhere near 66th & Hegenberger, it’be neat seeing the construction progress on a new ballpark each time you went to a game.

  17. Fast forward to the year 2018:

    San Francisco Warriors will be playing in downtown SF.

    Sacramento Athletics will be playing in an expanded Railey Field.

    Oakland Raiders will be playing in Clorox Coliseum (aka o.co)

    Oakland Rivercats will be playing in Clorox Coliseum.

  18. Anon…..What have announcers and media been saying? That crowd in Oakland! When Giants play doesnt the media say this San Francisco crowd? Giant fans arent only in SF but they still say SAN FRANCISCO. Same goes for when they speak about crowds at Candlecrap eventhough not everyone is from SF. Wow you mentioned the A’s crowd but according to people on this site SJ folks make trip up as well…so what the hell do you mean Oakland was represented in playoffs last year?

    Shut up talking….you are making a fool out of yourself

    THEY KEEP SAYING THAT CROWD IN OAKLAND….that is where team plays

  19. I just drove through Sacto last week. Lots and lots of empty fields out there. Can the metro area (about 2 million people) support an MLB team? Perhaps it can. At some point, MLB will take action, given the zero progress witnessed in Oakland. Could that mean a move to Sacramento? Maybe it will…Just saw a report the other day about some city hall protesting of budgetary priorities in Oakland. Not seeing any way Oakland spends 20 cents on stadiums for any of the three teams.

  20. That dubs crowd in Oakland is amazing. Best fans in the bay along with shark fans.

  21. Measure B1 will be back with a new name and fewer Jerry Brown tax measures overshadowing it.

    • @xootsuit – Probably. It could also have yet another parcel tax attempt overshadowing it.

  22. @pjk – And who exactly will be paying for a new stadium in Sacramento? Certainly not the city, after investing $250-300 mil in a new arena

  23. @510Savage – So when the W’s were in SJ, does it mean it was a SJ crowd? Or when they move to SF, does that same “Oakland” crowd constitute a SF crowd now?! Those are rhetorical questions, if you can’t figure it out.

    Funny, you Oakland pundits are so quick to cite the “Oakland” crowd when it benefits you (like how boisterous they were in the playoffs last year), but when we mention things like the lack of attendance, you are quick to blame other locales for your convenience. I thought the A’s were in O-A-K-L-A-N-D or is San Jose a large demographic of that crowd as well?! :X

  24. Good point. If Sacto goes through with the new arena, it will have as much money to spend on a ballpark as Oakland: $0.00.

  25. I don’t think anyone would be shocked to see measure B1 back in a different form. I voted for it last time, and I’d probably vote for it again (obviously depending on the specifics). I love TOD as much as anyone.
    The point is, press conferences don’t actually put shovels in grounds. Press releases don’t, either. To call those things momentum is naive. To pretend that any of those actual projects is “full steam” ahead is willful ignorance. The Oakland Army Base redevelopment can’t proceed beyond the first phase because the Port can’t raise the appropriate debt to make it so anytime soon. Brooklyn Basin is in in a similar state. Is it not curious that Signature said the project will be built as demand grows the day after JQ was bragging about full steam ahead? Is it not curious that Signature won’t say how much they plan to invest? What we know right now is that Oakland can prepare the site for development with about half of that money coming from RDA funds and the other half from Chinese investors.
    Asking legitimate questions does not make one a “hater.”
    It’s fun to speculate what something might cost and how it would be paid for, but the City of Oakland has had 4 years to come up with something, anything and it’s still vaporware. How much will Coliseum City cost? As presently envisioned, a SHIT TON. How will it be paid for? Partially with funds from a measure that was already voted down and may someday reappear.

  26. @Jeffrey,
    You should get a Pulitzer for that post 😉

  27. yes, might as well dream big! I like the concept… don’t care how it get paid for. Also, would prefer HT for the A’s, but if that doesn’t work out – CC baby!

    For the record, i don’t think its “hater-aid”, more individual biases. I admit mine. Most everything that is written on this blog about Oakland California reminds me of the SFGate comments section. All good though. It’ll be a win-win for the SJ crowd if/when a (baseball) stadium is built in Oakland.

    I respect the interest by many to figure out the funding for all of this, as the saga drags on. Nothing against that, but don’t expect everyone to be as heavily invested in the financial details.

    Let’s Go Oakland!!

  28. @David: “I respect the interest by many to figure out the funding for all of this, as the saga drags on. Nothing against that, but don’t expect everyone to be as heavily invested in the financial details”

    Ignoring the fact that it has to be paid for in some way is detrimental to the cause, be it San Jose/Oakland/Fremont/Sacramento/San Antonio/Indianapolis/Charlotte/Toledo/Sesame Street.

    The people who ignore that and keep pointing to the land as if it were the only thing required are living in their own world.

    I don’t think SJ is the best option for the long term health of the team because I hate Oakland–Rather, I like Oakland but I don’t think it can support it in this day and age. You can tell me it’s growing and thriving and a great place for the arts and what-have-you, but unless the people with the purse strings to invest in it are willing, growth doesn’t mean a thing. So far, in four years, no one has been able to come up with a way to pay for it in Oakland.

  29. @David,
    I would love to own a 20 bedroom Spanish estate in the beautiful Evergreen foothills of San Jose…
    How on Earth does asking legitimate questions and acknowledging the financial realities of Oakland now equted to individual biases? If I can’t afford my dream home making $100k a year, is a realtor telling me so considered hating and bias? Cmon David!

  30. I respect everyone’s opinions. I just don’t a f@#k about how it gets done. I got other things more important (to me) to study. I know everything cost money. I remember the first time I encountered a gas station air pump with the .25 cents on it. I can’t believe they charge or air …

    There’s a big ass pothole on the corner from my house. I don’t care how the City of Oakland pays to fix it, i just want it done.

  31. David, would you rather the money they have go to fixing that pothole or go to building a stadium? Should that money go to funding police, fire, and schools? Or should it go to fixing your pothole? Or a stadium? It’s incredibly foolish and naive to simply say get it done without accounting for the fact that there’s only a finite amount of cash to meet the city’s needs. You balk at paying 25 cents for air, but should you pay a 1,000% sales tax? Would you? What if that was the means of getting it done? What would be the long term impact of that? No one wants to have to think about these things. No one wants to have to jungle the priorities of a large city where everyone in that city prioritizes their needs differently. Meeting your needs means failing to meet someone else’s. And vice versa. You may not care how it gets done, but you should. Because *if* it got done, there would be a fall out that you’ll look back on as the source of a lot new, bigger problems. Without the Mount Davis boondoggle, the City of Oakland and Alameda County would be in a far better position to meet the city’s needs. Including building the A’s a new stadium.

  32. @dmoas – the City of Oakland is getting lots of things done. Lake Merritt has never looked better. Kaiser is building like crazy and progress is happening. I didn’t study Civil Engineering or finance in college, so i’m going to leave it to the experts. I’m not trying to hijack this thread, but I hope you understand every major project like this always costs more than we think, e.g. the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Whatever plan Wolff has for SJ, would encounter lots of financial unknowns. I don’t believe his plan is “shovel ready” anymore than what Oakland has planned so far.

    • @David – Considering that you claim to not worry about the details, it makes sense that you’d be mistaken in that manner.

  33. @ML – Time will tell.

    • @David – No, it’s not a matter of “time will tell”. Your desire to remain blissfully ignorant makes it so that you have very little place judging either City’s situation. Do you think the NFL or MLB will make a decision based on “time will tell”? They’re going to base their decisions on the best facts they have at their disposal. I’m astonished that you can have this cavalier attitude despite reading the news on a regular basis.

  34. I hope to God this project doesn’t happen.

  35. It’s a bold plan that’s for sure. If Oakland had a couple a million ppl living in the area I think they could pull this off with the right amount of taxes and private donations that would be needed to build a project of this size and magnitude. Nice dream and another delay tactic to try and stall the already stalled MLB relocation committee. The city F up the last time it helped out a sports team in the Raiders (Mount Davis Debt), this would bankrupt an already bankrupt city even further.

    PS I am going to enjoy taking pictures of the Raider tarps when my Cowboys play the Raiders this August.

  36. @ML – now you are twisting it. i didn’t say I don’t know anything about financing, I just am not an expert. And I don’t have the time to become one. You are way more invested in that, than i will ever be. You have learned a lot about blogging, stadium finance and CEQA, shit over the years because that’s one of your passions. It ain’t mine, so, end the end, i don’t care how it gets done. I can stick my head in the sand, and whatever is going to happen, will happen, without my blog contributions or expertise on the topic.

    Do you require expertise on the subject to contribute on this site? rhetorical question, but c’mon now… Selig, the giants, the A’s – they are going to do, what they are going to do. We just like to speculate. If you want this blog to be 100% guys who see the facts as you do – you have the control to moderate, or close the comments.

    Let’s Go Oakland!

    • @David – You said you don’t care about the details. That speaks volumes. You may as well be ignorant about the details.

  37. 4+ years that the Blue Ribbon Committee has looked but not found a solution in Oakland, David.

  38. David, you’ve already twisted things yourself. The reason why things take as long as they do to get done and go so far over budget is because people like you refuse to take responsibility. These things nearly always require a vote, but since you don’t care, you bankrupt your town. If you want things done, you need to fully invest yourself in the process. If you’re unwilling to do that, then you shouldn’t be pushing what you want on those willing to do so. The “just get it done, I don’t care how” doesn’t cut it. It’s either “Get it done by sacrificing this, this, and this” OR “I’d like this done, but if it doesn’t, oh well.” You want the cake eaten for you.

  39. The list of cities that are suffering the ramifications of “oh, just get it done” is long and distinguished: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Miami…should I go on?

  40. @dmoas – “people like me” have absolutely no say in what’s going on. I take my sons and friends to multiple games a year. I always drive and pay for parking. I buy food and memorabilia for the clones. I pledged to buy season tickets at a new venue in Oakland. I pay property taxes in Oakland.. and I’m good to small animals. I can’t do anymore. If I had an extra billion in my bank account i’d offer to become a minority owner. I’m a middle-class worker. The people who are going to be the deciders in this “ongoing saga” are not ordinary fans like you and me.

    @ML – You don’t care for me. I understand.

    Let’s Go Oakland!

    • @David – Not at all. I’m more concerned that there are others in Oakland who think similarly to you. It’s dangerous and frankly, reckless.

  41. Pingback: Oakland Athletics: What Happens If They Can't Move To San Jose?

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