If you haven’t been aware before, the City of Oakland has an ENA (Exclusive Negotiating Agreement) with the principals behind Coliseum City. That includes newcomer New City Development, headed by Floyd Kephart, local architects JRDV, and Colony Capital (to some diminished extent). The ENA would also extend to any teams signing on to the plan, if the Raiders or A’s were interested. So far, neither has gotten on board. Nor has the Warriors, whose sights are set on San Francisco.
Now comes word that a group called O3 Capital is pushing its own plan to redevelop the Coliseum area. O3’s plan would include three new venues for football, baseball, and basketball, along with an unusual twist – a new terminal at Oakland International Airport. It’s unclear why specifically a airport terminal would be involved, but such an inclusion would make an already complex project significantly more complicated. My guess is that O3 would want a cut of revenues coming from running the airport and the sports venues. That would cut into the operations of the Port of Oakland, which oversees more than 70,000 jobs at the airport and the seaport.
It’s also worth questioning the viability of a third terminal. The airport has lost both United and American over the past several years, becoming more reliant on its status as a low-cost alternative to SFO as well as FedEx’s hub operations. It makes little sense for a third terminal to be built, especially after an expansion for Terminal 2 was already undertaken to satisfy Southwest Airlines’ growth at the airport.
Regardless, Alameda County Supervisor and JPA Board President Nate Miley appears willing to hear O3’s plans and others out. O3 head Tarik Hasan is unwilling to show his plans unless the ENA for Coliseum City expires, which would presumably allow for an open bidding process. With nearly $5 million spent on studies, reopening bidding might look to some like following up on a waste of effort and money, putting Coliseum redevelopment back at square one. It could also be said that the lack of progress made by the various groups associated with Coliseum City have simply shone a light on the fact that Coliseum City is too difficult to make work, so starting over is the next best step. Start over or allow for an extension and hope it works out? That should be decided this Tuesday.
Another thing I’m more interested in is whether others echo Miley’s sentiments on the project, especially within Alameda County. Over a year ago the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors finally had a full, lengthy discussion about the project and its prospects. The Supes weren’t nearly as sanguine about Coliseum City as the Council was, given their more pointed questions and statements. There hasn’t been a similar session ever since, and I doubt that the Supes have since gained religion on the project with its struggles. The easiest thing for Oakland to do is the extend the ENA, effectively punting on the project for however many months. Inevitably some hard questions will need to be answered, and the Council will have to decide whether to fish or cut bait. Floyd Kephart has a hell of a sell job to make this week.