The stage shifts in 2014

As we bring on a new year and a new baseball season, let’s reflect on the rather tumultuous year that was 2013.

  • January – FanFest was a great event again, though the cramped concourses at Oracle Arena had many fans wishing for the event to be held at the Coliseum instead.
  • The Coliseum Authority raided scoreboard funds to pay for the ongoing Coliseum Study.
  • February – Oakland officials were forced to apologize to A’s owner Lew Wolff for misplacing a letter requesting further lease extension talks.
  • March – The City of Mesa, AZ, approved a renovation plan and 20-year lease for Hohokam Stadium that will bring the A’s over from their longtime spring home, Phoenix Municipal Stadium. 2014 will be the last year at Muni for the A’s, after which the stadium will be home to the ASU Sun Devils. The Cubs, who vacated Hohokam after 2013, are moving to their own mega-complex on the west side of Mesa.
  • San Jose was dealt the first of a series of setbacks when the state rolled back the City’s transfer of the Diridon ballpark site to the Diridon Development Authority. Eventually the City and Santa Clara County worked out the details of a deal, though it remains up in the air for now. In addition, a request to disqualify the Stand for San Jose lawsuit failed.
  • April/May – Kevin Johnson rallied Sacramento and Bay Area interests to put together an ownership group that eventually bought the NBA Kings from the Maloof family.
  • SAP takes over for HP as naming rights sponsor of San Jose’s Arena. Most fans continue to call the building The Shark Tank.
  • The Giants refinance the remaining debt at AT&T Park (originally due to be paid off in 2017) in order to provide funds for their own project in the parking lot across McCovey Cove from the ballpark.
  • Oakland Fan Pledge kicks off a campaign to build a list of fans willing to buy  season tickets (and in some cases PSLs) at a new A’s ballpark in Oakland. Currently there are just over 5,000 pledges.
  • Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers are awarded Super Bowl L in 2016. While the game will take place in the new stadium in Santa Clara, most of the other festivities will take place in San Francisco at venues like Moscone Center.
  • June – San Jose files an antitrust lawsuit against MLB, alleging that the league’s stalling is costing the City tax revenues.
  • A settlement between Howard Terminal operator SSA and the Port of Oakland could help clear the way for a ballpark on the waterfront site. Site proponents call this move “site control.” The Port was also motivated to get rid of an expensive, ongoing lawsuit by SSA over more favorable lease terms given to a nearby rival operator.
  • A sewer main at the Coliseum is clogged, causing sewage to overflow the clubhouse level and requiring the teams to use the Raiders’ facilities (up one level). Eventually a towel or piece of clothing is found to be the culprit.
  • July – A feasibility study for Coliseum City outlines the funding gap (now $400-500 million) that needs to be bridged for a new stadium, along with an explanation of the economic weaknesses of the East Bay market.
  • The Earthquakes’ stadium is further delayed (until 2015) when numerous underground bunkers are found and need to be demolished before building anew. Erection of the stadium bowl would begin in late December.
  • August – Raiders owner Mark Davis starts crowing for a long lease extension at the Coliseum, with the condition that the extension comes with a replacement to the Coliseum, preferably on the same site as the current stadium.
  • MLB and the San Jose make filings in anticipation of an October hearing in their antitrust lawsuit.
  • September – Lew Wolff clarifies that he seeks a five-year lease after the current lease ends after the 2013 season, with flexibility to leave early if impacted by a Raiders stadium.
  • October – A federal judge throws out San Jose’s antitrust complaint against MLB, but allows the City an immediate appeal (Ninth Circuit) and for the state tort claims to continue. The state claims were also thrown out at the end of the year.
  • A private investor group headed by LA mega-hedge fund Colony Capital and Dubai’s HayaH Holdings signs on to be the financial muscle behind the Coliseum City development. The group, teamed up with architecture firm JRDV, is tasked with providing a series of deliverables that will determine the feasibility of the project.
  • Bloomberg estimates that the A’s are worth $590 million, a huge jump over Forbes’ preseason estimate of $468 million.
  • November – With talks between the A’s and the JPA at an impasse, MLB steps in and negotiates a two-year extension for the A’s, resolving an outstanding issue regarding parking taxes. The Raiders receive a one-year extension with a one-year team option, which they would presumably exercise if they saw sufficient progress on the stadium front.
  • December – The Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors hold their first joint session to discuss the pros and cons of Coliseum City. The Supes claim that the City has dragged the County along, and the County has not been sufficiently involved in the process.
  • A court filing in the antitrust case states that MLB denied the A’s proposal to move to San Jose in June, just before the lawsuit was filed. MLB is unwilling to disclose the contents of the rejection letter. Sources inside baseball indicate that the A’s proposal, not the City of San Jose, was denied, opening the door to another proposal that MLB could conceivably accept.
  • Renderings of the Howard Terminal ballpark are released. It appears that the vision would try to avoid the BCDC’s jurisdiction by placing the footprint sufficiently inland. It is unclear if such a move will work. Normal CEQA issues remain, and proper environmental review has not started yet. Meanwhile, the Port solicits bids for use at the vacated terminal per state law.

What can we expect in 2014? A lot of follow-up to many of the issues above. Lawsuits will continue, and short-term leases only kick the can down the road. With the leases temporarily out of the way, 2014 is the year of the election. Both Oakland and San Jose have mayoral races this year. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan finds herself at the top of a list of five declared candidates. The race to replace San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed will also be hot and heavy, with several current council members facing off against a former councilman and current county supervisor. We should expect to see some serious progress on Coliseum City’s feasibility, as several project deliverables are due in the first half of the year. Oakland partisans will continue to flog Wolff, while San Jose partisans flog Mayor Quan. 2014 is also Commissioner Bud Selig’s last full year in his job. The search for his replacement could be interesting, though the favorite is currently COO and longtime MLB exec Rob Manfred. Movement on the antitrust lawsuit is not expected until the spring, and the “forgotten” Stand for San Jose lawsuit continues its machinations. All in all it looks to be a very newsworthy year. Will attendance continue to grow? Will it be an eventful 2014? That depends on whether anything gets resolved. This site has been running for nearly nine years. The stadium situation has never looked more muddled, with no end in sight. Something’s gotta give, right? Right?

40 thoughts on “The stage shifts in 2014

  1. “The irony is that whatever new law helps the W’s arena could provide a blueprint and pave the way for an A’s ballpark at Howard Terminal, which makes sense because both are on waterfront sites and face the same restrictions.” – ML

    • @BD – The final bills that were signed in September stopped short of the kind of sweeping reform that could benefit Howard Terminal. The State Lands Commission can’t be bypassed, and it looks like if HT were to get any exemptions, they’ll have to be through a separate bill.

  2. Happy 2014! I believe the only real “news” emanating from Oakland this year will be re the Raiders and whether they will get a new stadium at the Coli. But do expect the usual hot air from Quan and Oakland pols/biz leaders re the A’s, I.e. “site control, “viable sites,” “they’ll have no choice but to build here” BS. Heck, perhaps more cool ballpark renderings are in store as well!
    Do believe the machinations will be ongoing to resolve any issues re San Jose and the A’s eventual relocation, I.e. financial projections and Giants indemnification to name a few. All with the current lawsuit providing a “nudge” to MLB to get the deal done.
    All in all, it’s looking to shape up to be a good year. Optimism will rule in 2014. Go A’s and Go SJ!

  3. Damn it BD! I wanted the first comment of the new year 😉
    BTW, “blueprints” and “paving the way” don’t mean a thing unless you have cold cash on hand, and LOTS of it! Just saying…

  4. This site has been going on for 9 years…sigh the coliseum could be remodled upgraded for the Raiders kick the A’s out amd invest in Coliseum City or gtfo of the bay area…Fisher get it together

  5. For this new year, I don’t see any time constraints that will force MLB to have to make a decision regarding the location of the A’s new ballpark. I see the lawsuits as an ongoing process, with no imminent court decision movement anticipated. I also see the Coliseum City project as a strong possibility for the Raiders, but even that will take at least several years before a shovel hits the ground. With what appears to be the lack of urgency from either the A’s or Raiders, both seem to be be willing to wait it out to get their respective desired Bay Area ballpark/stadium venues. Time is on their side. We fans will also have to show a little more patience. I’m confident that this patience will ultimately pay off for both the A’s and Raiders.

  6. I expect Wolff to ask owners for a vote on San Jose. If that fails, I’d then expect him to ask for not just continued subsidies to stay in Oakland but a dramatic, permanent increase in them. “You want me to stay in Oakland? Fine. Here’s the bill.” Let’s see how far MLB owners are willing to go to protect the Giants.

  7. My 2014 Odds:

    – JQ being reelected : 1 – 4
    – Favorable SJ Mayor being elected: 5 – 7
    – BS being extended again: 1 – 3
    – HT being scrapped: 2 – 3
    – CC being scaled back: 1 – 2
    – Raiders leaving Oakland: 1 – 2
    – SJ winning ATE challenge: 1 – 2
    – SFSF winning lawsuit: 1 – 4
    – SJ TR being decided: 1 – 4
    – LW/JF selling A’s: 1 – 9

    Happy New Years and go Niners!

  8. “We fans will also have to show a little more patience. I’m confident that this patience will ultimately pay off for both the A’s and Raiders”

    15 years hasn’t been patient enough?

  9. my new year resolution: if LW and Fisher don’t give a fvk, why should I?
    oh, I am still following the A’s of course and hope they keep winning but it is past time for LW and Fisher to press for a resolution but they don’t seem to care much especially Fisher.

  10. daniel, Fisher has never cared in terms of making comment. That’s why he’s called the “silent” partner. Hoffman before him was the same way.

  11. @Dan,
    In all fairness, there was nothing going on in 1999 re a new A’s ballpark. I believe at that time the city of Oakland had already rejected Schott/Hoffmans proposal to make vast improvements to the Coli for baseball (choosing the Raiders and Mt. Davis instead) and a possible Santa Clara ballpark was being bandied about. I don’t believe the city of Oakland had yet rejected Uptown for a ballpark (opting instead for condos) and Lew Wolff/San Jose were no where on the A’s radar. The current dreadful saga really goes back to 2009 when Fremont officially died; “just” five years! Wolff has already stated that Cisco Field/SJ won’t be happening until 2018; “just” four years away with possible groundbreaking in two years. Patience…

  12. @ ML Thanks for the over view, on top of it as always “The stadium situation has never looked more muddled” Yeah it’s just going to take time, not that there has not been enough time.

  13. OT: So as a person to watch in 2014, the Chron describes Wolff as being “embattled, hated.” Gee, I wonder who they’re speaking for (sarcasm). They also go on to state that Oakland is getting serious about holding on to the A’s; WTF!? 2014 the year that Wolff learns to love Oakland?

    I have a prediction for 2014: the traditional Bay Area media will reach new lows in their outrageous reporting on this saga. (Hoping for a SJ resolution soon just so that they can all STFU!)

  14. @Tony D: also the giants homer media will experience another difficult year giving the last place giants more favorable press than the repeat AL West champ A’s (in position to three-peat as the division champs in 2014) The lame pro-giants media hacks will continue losing their credibility with their pro giants (last place giants) b.s spin jobs.

  15. My prediction on the A’s stadium in Oakland is SNAFU. (Situation Normal all Fracked Up). I already lost one bet saying they would have a new stadium by the time I ETS’d from the military so I am not making anymore regarding a stadium in Oakland. I still feel LW & Co need to bribe MLB and the Giants so they can move to SJ. Probably would not hurt to have different stadium sights in SJ in case Plan A falls apart again.

    If they can’t get approval for SJ, than the A’s need to put up or shut up and build a new stadium in Oakland or as others say GTFO and find a city in Canada or the US to build them one. Time to stop alienating people by the do nothing attitude coming from the A’s ownership.

    • @Mike2 – Think about what you’re saying. Do you really think that MLB will force A’s ownership to drop $500 million or more on a stadium with little guarantee of making their money back? Seriously?

  16. You are right Mike2…if san Jose does not get traction…soon.. the cheapest option for a ballpark in A’s territory is the coliseum area and make it a small 30-32,000 ballpark.. or if not Canada or another city in America..the Raiders should have the coliseum and all revenue streams all to themselves. The Warriors have 3 options
    1.Stay at Oracle as part of Coliseum City
    2. The San Francisco move either at pier 30 orclose to afford giants psparking lot
    3.Downtown Oakland Howard terminal

  17. ML: What do you think of Quan’s suggestion of refurbishing the Coliseum for the A’s? I don’t think there’s all that much that can be done with it, given its 50-year-old age, miles of foul territory, etc. How much would it cost to remove the still-unpaid-for Mount Davis? And let’s not even begin to factor in that the Raiders still play in the place. To me, Quan’s suggestion says: “We cannot provide a new ballpark for the A’s.”

    • @pjk – Like the other “news” from before Christmas, I’m not going to take that seriously. Even if Quan has actually analyzed that possibility (probably not, not her domain), it’s a nonstarter. Nothing to worry about.

  18. ??? ML, of course mlb won’t force the A’s t o build at the coliseum…but they won’t knock the A’s ownership from moving out the bay area for the next public funding giving city either…and Mike2 is right about alienating the fan base, its 2014 Lew has to change that attitude…Oakland city leaders are dopes but they can at least play the good cop role like Mark Davis has been

    • @harry – Let me know when that city that offers up a free stadium shows up. It’s not Montreal, Portland, or even Vegas or San Antonio at this point. Keep in mind the dynamic here. Oakland has to convince Wolff and MLB that it’s feasible to build in Oakland. It’s Wolff and Fisher who are bearing the lion’s share of risk. When the PR and media campaigns all melt away, someone has to pay the bill.

  19. Bud Selig is like a “jackass” stuck in the middle of the road, no matter what you do he refuses to move.

    When San Jose wins in the 9th Circuit later this year, Selig will have to move or expose MLB to the Supreme Court where MLB like all the other sports in recent memory have failed miserably around Anti-Trust issues.

    Piazza paved the road for San Jose to win big it both the 9th Circuit and State Courts.

    The end is coming, San Jose will not only get a free ballpark but $$ from MLB to settle the lawsuit to help with the final pieces and some extra coin for the General Fund.

    Selig will forever hate the Giants, A’s, San Jose, SF and the entire Bay Area for the rest of his life…Hahahah!

  20. To answer the question in the OP’s final sentence: I don’t thing anything has to give this year, unfortunately.

    I’m convinced that nothing will materially change this current status quo until some sort of external pressure or deadline forces the players in this twisted drama to fall into place. I don’t see anything slated to happen in 2014 that would fit this bill. The SJ lawsuit stuff won’t get to a critical stage until a discovery phase is forced on MLB and/or the AE issue gets thrust onto the SCOTUS agenda…those sorts of developments are probably at least a year away from happening…

    For now, Selig knows the A’s are relegated contractually to the Coliseum purgatory for two more years, the lawsuit business is churning along without too much of a headache for MLB and Quan/Oakland will probably just wait for Coliseum City info to sort itself out, mention Howard Terminal in passing every once in awhile and refuse to commit wholeheertedly to one project or the other…

    To me, it’s more likely that 2015 is the make or break/something’s gotta give year. The fate of CC might be pretty clear by then, as might the SJ lawsuit stuff…Selig and Quan might be out of the picture, and with a looming lease expiration at the end of the 2015 season, there just might enough info, urgency and fresh/motivated players for the dominoes to actually start falling for real…

  21. @Taj Adib
    I agree with Taj Adib, adding to that, Wolff is in the cat-bird seat, if he does nothing, he makes money, if he does something, he makes money. The ownership group of the Athletics is going to make money hand over fist (franchise value), no matter what they do, is it any wonder, why Lew is not rocking the boat, back at the at the ledge.

  22. Its not like A’s ownership would go broke… fact in Seligman/mlb won’t let the A’s go to San Jose at a “fair price” ‘re:t.rights….not only I recommend that A’s ownership build a ballpark by the coliseum…but also still receive revenue sharing checks….Sf giants are happy they cankeep san jose area…and east bay fans and ownership get their new ballpark with welfare checks….

  23. Thanks for your intelligent insight Harry (sarcasm)…and welcome to the blog.

  24. Of course, the main point of the A’s getting a new ballpark is to get them OFF revenue-sharing. If building a new ballpark in Oakland requires, well, permanent, increased revenue-sharing, then what’s the point? And if MLB doesn’t want a privately funded ballpark in a place as lucrative as San Jose, why would it accept one in Oakland, which, no offense, folks, simply does not have the deep pockets residents and corporations that San Jose has? Meanwhile, we’re coming up on the fifth anniversary of Bud Selig’s declaration that the A’s cannot and will not continue in their current situation indefinitely, as they continue in their current situation indefinitely. Bud sure is a man of his word, no?

  25. @harry- still getting welfare by building in Oakland confirms that it is less than desirable solution-

  26. Thanks for all your tireless work here. Even though I often disagree with your opinions you dig up a lot of info and present it in a clear, easy to understand way, and you’re always on top of the latest news. Like the actual Marine Layer, you can love it or hate it but you can’t avoid it if you’re an A’s fan.

  27. Perhaps MLB does not care, as much about the free cheeks, as we thought. Who the hell knows?

  28. @LSN- it’s in the CBA that the Bay Area is a 2 team large market with the A’s losing their welfare check once a new ballpark is built. Restoring welfare if they build in Oakland would be one hell of a statement about the Oakland market

  29. @GoAs I here you, and we have talked about this a lot, in the past. I dont think any reasonable person, could say Oakland was better, then SJ in that regard. As I have said in the past, no way it happends in Oakland without RS part of the deal, and I say that as a Pro-Oakland fan. For anyone not to notice that SJSV is where the money is in the SF Bay, is just not looking at the facts, I think some of these SF folks just dont want to see anything happen in SJ, they act like they would love the A’s to stay in Oakland, but SF already has Oakland pimped, they just dont want it in SJ

  30. Thanks tony.

    Well the only thing us pro Oakland can wait on now is if Ali Malik and his colony capital company could bridge the gap with Raiders, A’s and Warriors…if it goes thru then im happy but if not ill stop stressing out over new ballparks…and just enjoy the teams whether they stay or go. I hope city of Oakland makes ali malik happy and give him the entire coliseum land.

  31. “it’s in the CBA that the Bay Area is a 2 team large market with the A’s losing their welfare check once a new ballpark is built.”

    That fact has to change. MLB can’t have it both ways. On the one hand treat the Bay Area as a shared two team major market, while at the same time divide the Bay Area market into two distinct separate unequally divided territories. In effect, forcing the A’s to have their ballpark in the far less populated, far less corporate/business based, and far less wealthier portion of the Bay Area market, as compared the far more lucrative Bay Area territory allocated and designated to the Giants.

  32. One more point, If the A’s are forced to remain in the specific Bay Area territory designated for them, they should still be considered a smaller market franchise, and thus still be able to be on the receiving end for revenue sharing.

  33. Yes, it is not right to give the Giants the six most-lucrative counties and the two largest and most-lucrative cities while giving the A’s struggling Oakland and then saying “Now go get a ballpark done in your territory just like the Giants did,” with the presumption that the A’s can get public funding from Oakland that they’re not going to get.

  34. @pjk Your right, cant have it both ways, your restrected to 2 of 9 parts of the area, but your big time? No other team in MLB has to do business like that.

  35. re: Well the only thing us pro Oakland can wait on now is if Ali Malik and his colony capital company could bridge the gap with Raiders, A’s and Warriors…

    …Private developers are not exactly philanthropists. They are going to want to be assured they’ll make Big Big Time $$ back on any stadium development at the Coliseum property. (We know the Raiders have been considering this whole deal with the city and private developers but still, no stadium deal). And we have to question the wisdom of creating a brand new “downtown” Oakland to compete with the existing downtown Oakland. I wonder what current downtown Oakland office owners with empty space to lease think of the Coliseum City plan.

  36. Of all the articles that ML has written, this one depressed me. It just puts into clear terms the annual frustration A’s fans have regarding seeing the A’s in a new ballpark.

    ML, another great year of reporting and let’s hope that very soon you can move on to reporting a different issue, like some youth league getting a new field while the A’s finally reside in a new shiny home.

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