Well, nobody in a position of power took my advice. Oh well. In fact, just as I was heading out to lunch and my left front tire blew out, I received an email announcement that Coliseum JPA board President Nate Miley and Vice President Larry Reid would have a media availability session at 12:25, right before the start of the final game of the homestand. The session was accompanied by another press release, claiming among other things that the A’s want a large annual subsidy and still owe five years of back rent at the Coliseum:
Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority Issues Statement Regarding Oakland Athletics 10 Year Lease Proposal Negotiations
Authority committed to keeping baseball at O.co Coliseum but concerned about serious issues that could harm taxpayers
OAKLAND, CA – Today, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority issued a statement regarding negotiations with Oakland Athletics on a ten year lease to remain at O.co Coliseum. The Authority remains committed to working with the Athletics; however, they believe there are pressing issues that must be addressed as negotiations continue.
“Yesterday, the Authority made an offer to keep the Athletics at O.co Coliseum that safeguarded city and county taxpayers while addressing the team’s concerns. Unfortunately, it took less than a few hours for them to reject that offer. Despite this, we are still committed to negotiating a fair deal,” said Coliseum Authority Chairman Nate Miley, who serves as an Alameda County Supervisor.
Among the issues cited by the Authority are that the Oakland Athletics owe the City and County more than $5 million because they have not been paying their rent for over five years. While the team is asking that this debt be written off, the Authority insists that this money could be used for public purposes such has hiring more police officers or funding public health services.
Additionally, the Athletics are demanding that the Authority give the team rent subsidies of $3.5 million per year. This is despite the team being an MLB franchise with a market value of nearly $1 billion.
“We look forward to addressing these issues and are committed to negotiations,” stated Oakland Councilmember and Coliseum Authority Vice-chair Larry Reid. “We agree with the A’s that they should stay for at least ten years, and we are staying at the bargaining table. We look forward to continued discussions and to coming to an agreement on a mutually beneficial lease.”
The Authority added that it wants to keep baseball in Oakland, and a ten year extension, lasting through the 2024 season, gives the Athletics a place to a call home and fans an opportunity to cheer a great team.
That was followed up during the game by A’s President Michael Crowley, who refuted the back rent allegation:
Statement by A’s President Michael Crowley Regarding Today’s Announcement by the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority
“First, we owe no back rent or any other amounts. We did deduct rent payments in the past for items that we are allowed under our lease, but that was our negotiated right.
Second, there is absolutely nothing in either our lease offer to them or their counter proposal to us that mentions any kind of subsidy. In fact, under our final offer we would immediately invest no less than $10 million in the facility and our rent would rise from the amounts that we have paid over the last decade.
We have nothing additional to offer and as a result there will be no further negotiations.”
Of course, all of this happened as I was changing a tire and switching out a rental car at Hertz, so I wasn’t able to factcheck right away. Eventually I got back to my laptop and took a look at the JPA’s annual financial statements, which are a matter of public record. The 2013 report isn’t available, but the previous years’ versions are, and it took a quick look to figure out who was right. See for yourself, from the 2012 report:
See that line item named Athletics Rent? Sure looks like a payment of $1.1 million to me. Same goes for 2011. And Crowley’s right that the A’s have the right to deduct maintenance items – such as patching up concrete leaks or fixing plumbing issues – but it appears they haven’t done that for a while. The 2011 report even acknowledges the A’s rent payment. From page 6:
- Lease revenue increased $225 (thousand) or 10 percent primarily due to rent revenue from the Oakland Athletics because of an increase in the rent for the last fiscal year.
What I think happened is that the JPA is conflating the parking fee matter with rent. In 2009, the City of Oakland enacted an 18.5% parking tax at the Coliseum, which the A’s withheld but chose not to pay while it was determined if such a tax was enforceable (it was). As part of the most recent lease extension through 2015, the A’s and the JPA chose to use arbitration to determine the final payout by the A’s. Again, that tax started collection in 2009, which might explain why the JPA thinks the issue goes back five years. (Update: An ABC 7 report indicates that the JPA sees the “rent” matter going to arbitration in June. That’s when the parking revenue matter is expected to go to arbitration.)
Assuming that others factcheck this properly, the JPA will be forced to walk back this goof the same way the City of Oakland has several other allegations. Now do you see why it’s a bad idea to negotiate in the press?
The worst part is that Miley revealed that the JPA has been in talks with Lew Wolff about a Coliseum land deal, one that presumably would supersede the Coliseum City project once that plan hits its probable demise.
@newballpark Miley says of A’s “We’re talking to them about a land deal. We’re talking to them about a new stadium all on the existing site”
— Matthew Artz (@Matthew_Artz) April 23, 2014
@newballpark Miley also said JPA gave A’s info team asked for. “And we are awaiting a proposal on the land.” Also wouldn’t rule out public $
— Matthew Artz (@Matthew_Artz) April 23, 2014
I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that land proposal, Supervisor Miley. From the sound of Crowley’s comment, sure seems like the JPA is getting the silent treatment for the immediate future.