Kephart provides some brutal honesty about Coliseum City

New Coliseum City frontman Floyd Kephart provided a wide-ranging interview to the SF Business Times (main article/additional quotes). After 2+ years of the project lacking real details and general cageyness from its spokespeople and supporters, Kephart’s honesty is a breath of fresh air. He minces no words about the difficulties Coliseum City faces, and sets the table for what needs to follow.


Coliseum City with two new venues plus the existing arena

The article, written by Ron Leuty, lays out Kephart’s previous experience, much of it in the horse-racing business, some of which is in financial crisis management. The latter’s probably the best why to describe his current ordeal, with 90 80 days left in the ENA. Kephart admits that CC is by far the biggest project he’s ever worked on. Among the things he says needs to be done:

  • Public benefit analysis
  • Disposition and development agreement
  • At least one signed team
  • Master developer

I put together a more extensive list last week when the ENA extension was signed. The public benefit analysis, while not a requirement, is an excellent idea since it could help garner public support if conducted honestly. That could be crucial if CC ends up going to the ballot box in the future. The DDA is a potential showstopper, since it can take up to a year after a team and developer sign on to hammer it out, as it did for the 49ers and Santa Clara. The DDA isn’t anything like a apartment rental agreement or even a mortgage, it’s hundreds of pages of details about financing, ownership, rights, timelines, and legal responsibilities. Maybe if the Raiders or A’s sign on prior to the end of the 90 days another extension could be granted for the DDA, but it goes to show how far behind the 8-ball this project is.

The big takeaway is that Kephart is meeting with Wolff in early November (perhaps next week?), which will give Kephart a chance to sell Wolff on having a more competent team in place or tailoring the vision for the A’s. Kephart’s aim appears to be lower than what the City was selling for the last two years, as the goal of having one team in place, maybe two is not nearly the same as bold (or pointless) as saying Everyone can stay here, there’s plenty of land.

Wolff could easily dismiss the plans just as he had done over the summer, but with the finish line drawing near, Wolff may be more likely to listen. The reason? Process. Having an active CEQA/EIR process underway is worth millions of dollars and at least a year’s worth of effort, so if Wolff were to sign on or bring in a master developer that will work in concert with the A’s, they’d already be ahead of the game. It’s a risk for Oakland, though, since the Mark Davis could view this as a sign that the Raiders are about to be marginalized. Since Davis hasn’t signed on himself, there isn’t much room for him to complain. As Kephart notes:

“Nothing says what the Raiders want. Is it a life-sized statue of Al Davis at the entrance of the stadium and then they’ll stay? … Maybe the teams have asked the city that — I don’t know.”

Another big piece of news is the timeline.

Yet even if Kephart’s group assembles all the agreements and documentation needed to win over a master developer for Coliseum City, the soonest the A’s would play in a new ballpark would be 2018 and the Oakland Raiders would land a new stadium in 2019 ‘at the earliest,’ Kephart said.

‘We want to cooperate,’ Wolff said. ‘We want to see what happens in whatever timeframe, 90 days or longer. Then we’ll know better what we have to do.’

2019 for the Raiders is a long ways away. It’s unclear whether that would be acceptable for Davis. If someone’s promising a new stadium in LA earlier, he may be willing to take it if the terms are right, even if he’s the second team in LA. 2018 for the A’s pretty much falls in line with reset expectations coming out of the lengthy Coliseum lease negotiations. We all want it sooner, I know.

For now Kephart is saying the right things – the truth – that can help get everyone on the same page. There’s no doubt that the effort at this point is a Hail Mary. Then again, Kephart probably knows a thing or two about long shots. If his work can help get the A’s in a ballpark in Oakland, he’ll have done his job magnificently.

29 thoughts on “Kephart provides some brutal honesty about Coliseum City

  1. Hiring this guy was worth the money just for this interview. He’s the first person to actually say anything of substances, and it wasn’t a very long interview.

  2. re: “The Raiders and A’s will both be at the table. I don’t know if we get a deal with both of them, but we’ll get a deal with one of them.” …Looks like he realizes there is going to have to be a choice made. He makes no mention of the Warriors (unless I missed a quote somewhere). He must realize the Warriors are a lost cause for Oakland.

  3. @ ML

    You have oftentimes, mentioned the “Adult Conversation”, it’s so refreshing to hear someone at least begin to approach it.

  4. if the a’s were to build at the coliseum site, would they stay at the coliseum during this time like teams like cin and stl did when they built new parks basically next door to their own venue or will they go the route of the nats in dc when they played at rfk for a couple of seasons i think before they moved into their current new park?

    if it’s just the a’s at the coliseum does the park stay in the area of where the baseball venue is located in all these pics we’ve seen for months now or would they move it where the football venue is which i’d guess near the center of the entire project? if that were the case they’d probably have to play a couple of years lets say at at&t while if the baseball venue is located where the coliseum city pics they could maybe stay at the coliseum during the construction?

    • @letsgoas – There’s enough flexibility within the plan that it could be modified to support the A’s needs first. The alignment of the new plaza is runs into the seats in right field. The ballpark could be placed where the football stadium is planned to go, and built first to accommodate the A’s schedule. Then the plaza and other infrastructure could be built along with the revamped Coliseum transit hub. I doubt they’d need to use AT&T Park at all.

      • isn’t where that football stadium is in the coliseum city pics where the coliseum is at this point? if that’s the case where would the a’s play for the 2-3 years on average it takes to build a mlb park.

      • @letsgoas – No, the football stadium site is in the B lot south of the current stadium, where the buses park. As part of the project, the creek that separates from the Malibu (gravel) triangular lot further to the south would be rerouted and paved over.

  5. with bart running through coliseum city its a no brainer to want to keep these teams in oakland. and for these teams to stay.,. the new project needs to get started sooner than later so there is a reason to believe in the future the entire bay area, There are to many sport fans going to get left out if team move to the suburbs and inner city declines

  6. Refreshing conversation from Kephart. Seems someone in a place on control finally has a grasp of how difficult the city’s insane vision of Coliseum city really is…

  7. Putting recent comments form Lew Wolff together with Kephart’s, I am trying really hard to fight optimism.

    • @ jeffreyaugust

      Me too.

    • It’s hard to know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. I keep getting the feeling from the tone of these articles and quotes from elected officials and developers, that the Raiders are the favored team for Coliseum City. It seems inconceivable that any elected official could support the Raiders over the A’s for any reason other than pure politics (votes): many more games with baseball, the Raiders’ previous disloyalty in bolting from Oakland, the damage done to the stadium upon their return and the multi-million dollar debt incurred as a result. The only reason would be that somehow the politicians sense/know that the majority of Oakland voters want the Raiders. So I’m hoping that this 90-day extension would get us past the election b.s., and then the true support for the A’s will emerge.

      On the other hand, it could be that Lew is simply harder to deal with — he’s an experienced developer and wants to control part of the project, which may be a deal killer. If he can show mlb that he was aced out of the Coliseum City project, then that may be his ticket to SJ.

      • I would like to support the A’s over the Raiders, they deserve it! However, MLB and their poor vs the rich needs to change before we can believe again.

      • When I look at it, thinking of occam’s razor, the simplest answer is that Lew Wolff sees exactly what we all see: The Raiders aren’t going to make it happen, he can influence the project (probably even be the master developer) best from the outset.

        If you go deeper and read the comments from Kephart and Wolff:
        1. We don’t know what the Raiders want. (Kephart)
        2. We aren’t sure we can get a deal with 2, but we are sure we can with 1. (Kephart)
        3. We want to be involved so we know what we have to do within 90 days, or even longer. (Wolff)

        Go back to Lew Wolff’s ORIGINAL preference for a new stadium “Lot B of the Coliseum.”
        And his fallback option “Mixed Use Development centered around a Ballpark across 66th from the current Coliseum.”

        Mix in the stuff we know from the old, outdated HOK study: Best site, Uptown, Second Best, Coliseum, Third Best, Fremont (all of which have been explored and now the first is gone and the second might be available).

        It’s crazy, but I think Kephart and crew working the financing with Wolff’s support, plus Wolff working as the master developer on the project is all it will take to get a doable version of “Coliseum City” rolling (which is not the 800 acre, 3 team pipe dream, but a scaled back, 150-200 Acre, 1 team realistic plan).

        That’s the optimism I am fighting 🙂 I am fighting it by remembering how Oakland as a government has botched plenty over the years and how they can complicate the screwing in of a light bulb with ridiculous in fighting and the politics of ego.

  8. I love it that Kephart said, *should* both teams sign on to stay, Oakland would build the A’s a park before the Raiders!

    It appears to me like it’s OK to say that now, even during a mayoral election drive. But the sad part is that it’s likely not because ppl favor As over the Raiders now, it’s because ppl realize the Raiders are almost as gone as the Warriors. The A’s is the only team to salvage.

  9. …say what you will on how they come up with these online top ten list but Oakland certainly not looked upon as all that safe ranking #2 here.

    • Crime stats and stadium politics are two completely different subjects. City finances and revenue are always fair game when discussing a stadium project but you could counter by saying a privately financed stadium project could spur growth and grow revenue for all areas of city needs. I don’t see how this is relevant to anything – especially without a financing model.

    • @letsgoas – Completely irrelevant to the issues at hand.

      • yeah i know but there alway been this talk about the past about the whole crime rates between oakland and other cities including the two other major cities here in the bay area in frisco and sj.

        but as an oaklander this kind of video does make me sad that my city that i’ve lived my whole life in is that high on this type of a list that tens and even hundreds of thousands view. unlike many of those other cities they really don’t get that danger stigma attached to them as a city like oakland has gotten and i guess that happens when your neighboring city is supposedly adored nationally for being one of the “beautiful” places in the country.

      • If anything, the crime stats illustrate the need for some kind of economic development in the area of the Coliseum.

        Crime is a function of economic disparity. I don’t think anyone with any critical thinking skills doubts that East Oakland needs something to spur growth for the folks that live there.

  10. also if you want to delete the post/video you can.

  11. Even though crime in Oakland is way down this year with a 20% reduction in homicides, 35% reduction in robberies, 35% reduction in home burgalries, the San Jose crowd wants to take crime from previous years to make Oakland look bad. How many here know that according to SF experiences on average 2200 crimes per week compared to 450 crime per week for Oakland? How many here realize that there are 16,000 auto burglaries in SF and 6,000 in Oakland?

    Saint Louis with a population of 320,000 has recorded over 110 homicides while Oakland with 406,000 has recorded 67 non-justifiable homicdes to date.

    The vast majority of Oakland is not a “dangerous city” and I resent you bringing that silly video on this blog. The ignorance of the San Jose side certainly doesn’t suprise me.

    • @Elmano – letsgoas is an Oakland resident. You on the other hand are an Oakland cheerleader who doesn’t live in Oakland. He was admonished for bringing the crime issue up and he acknowledged it. You on the other hand are the Baghdad Bob of Oakland cheerleaders.

  12. The problem is that the “crime issue” in Oakland is distorted based on lack of actual knowledge of the actual crime figures. Anyone who thinks that Oakland is “more dangerous” than Camden, Flint, Saint Louis, Baltimore, and many other urban cities in the United States, doesn’t know what they are talking about. These rankings and studies are meaningless and are simply used to marginalize certain cities. Even the FBI puts no credence in these “most dangerous” rankings.

    I’m surprised a random opinionated video based on crime rates occurring years ago is used on this blog to misrepresent and fear monger Oakland to those who don’t know the actual crime numbers or the city.

    Evidently you must agree with this video since you’re calling me “Baghdad Bob” as if I were simply an Oakland cheerleader without command of the actual crime numbers. On that count you are simply wrong Marine Layer.

  13. Here are the actual OPD crime numbers. We had a rough October so homicides are down only 15% from last year. That 15% reduction is in addition to a 28% reduction in homicides in 2013. Oakland is also down 30% in robberies and 29% in residential burglaries.

    Oakland still gets hammered with ignorant and misinformed crime videos regardless of the actual crime. This is to set the record straight about current crime in Oakland. The city does not need any more misrepresentations about crime when crime is actually down the last two years.

    Click to access oak050040.pdf

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