Update 4:15 PM – The Chronicle reports that Oakland City Administrator Fred Blackwell has left his job to become CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. Who exactly is going to do all the dealmaking that Blackwell was doing before?
Just so we get this straight…
Last summer, the Raiders stadium at Coliseum City was projected to cost $700 million, with a $300-400 million funding gap.
In November, the cost estimate was raised to $900 million, with a $400-500 million funding gap.
Yesterday, new Oakland City Administrator Fred Blackwell was interviewed by the Trib’s Matthew Artz. In passing, he mentioned that the funding gap has ballooned to a whopping $500-600 million.
He did note that one of his top projects, getting a new football stadium built for the Oakland Raiders, remained a struggle. Blackwell said the stadium project faces a $500 million to $600 million shortfall that would have to be subsidized by additional development within the Coliseum complex. While he praised the city’s business partners working on the deal, he said “there are a lot of things that can go wrong in a negotiation of that complexity.”
The biggest thing than can go wrong in any stadium project is not knowing how it gets paid for. Coliseum City is clearly at that moment. $600 million just off the development proceeds and fees? Sure, if they have 500 acres to develop at the Coliseum. In this case it’s only 100 acres, and much of that land is already taken up by the pre-existing venues.
How does this gap keep growing? Are the sides still having trouble determining what the proper stadium vision is? For some time the Raiders and the NFL have wanted a smaller, open-air stadium. The City wants a bigger, retractable dome venue that could also be used as a convention center and to attract future Super Bowls. If there’s still no consensus on the scope of the project a year in, it’s not confidence inspiring. And Mark Davis claims he’s being left in the dark.
Already the backers of Coliseum City are looking into alternatives. Perhaps that will involve the existing Coliseum, or further scaling back or cost-engineering the new stadium. The Raiders may even be considered too expensive to retain. Either way, this stadium project has turned into a money pit. Or a black hole, and not the kind cheers emanate from.