Oakland approves Coliseum EIR & Specific Plan, Raiders lease, Arena refinancing

Thank Jeebus for meeting minutes. I was only able to catch part of the Coliseum City agenda item during the March 31 City Council meeting. Oakland voted 7-0 with one abstention to certify the EIR and Specific Plan, figuratively paving the way for financiers and developers (and, Oakland hopes, at least one team) to make CC happen. The good news is that a major bureaucratic hurdle has been overcome. The bad news is that several key issues related to the project haven’t been resolved.

As has become commonplace over the past few months, a litany of residents and business in the Plan area and surrounding neighborhoods made their way to the mic to address specific concerns. The business owners got their biggest concern dealt with, housing in the Airport Gateway area west of 880. Zoning has been changed to eliminate housing in that area, referred as C/D/E in the Plan. They also got housing eliminated from Area B, along Edgewater facing the Estuary.

D-CO-4 (along Estuary) has become part of D-CO-3

D-CO-4 (along Estuary) has become part of D-CO-3

The change is nothing to sneeze at since it removes 1,750 units out of 5,750 total. All 4,000 units will be located in either around the BART station (2,300) or as part of the “Ballpark Village” at the Coliseum (1,700). That puts even more pressure on money men and developers to figure out creative ways to bridge the football stadium funding gap. It’s also a blessing in disguise because putting housing right on the water was expected to be highly contentious, any development requiring numerous approvals from outside agencies (ALUC, BCDC, EBMUD, EBRPD to name a few).

Residents of East Oakland found less to agree with, thanks to a lack of consensus on just how much affordable and low income housing would be built there. In the post-redevelopment era, Oakland has set targets of 15% of units as affordable or below market rate. Unfortunately, funds used to help subsidize affordable housing have dwindled to practically nothing. The normal instrument for replenishing such funds, housing impact fees, continue to be merely a study topic for Oakland with no release of the study – let alone decision on how to enact such fees – until next year. Larry Reid, in whose district lies the Coliseum and East Oakland, continued his protest against having affordable housing at Coliseum City, running directly in opposition to many of his own residents who maintain concern over gentrification and rising rents in the neighborhoods surrounding the Plan areas.

A community benefits agreement negotiated weeks ago is meant to provide jobs, but that’s the low hanging fruit of the project that is entirely dependent on what gets built. Those jobs won’t materialize on their own. They need a catalyst and willing developers to bring those jobs to fruition.

All of that is not to diminish the accomplishment of getting the EIR work done. It’s done, and while it’s not perfect, it’s an important benchmark to getting something built. The actual deal – that’s the hard stuff. As of today Floyd Kephart has about 11 weeks to start making good on his deliverables.

Not reported elsewhere were two other important items that were also on the agenda. The Raiders lease, which was approved at the JPA level a month ago, was approved 7-0 by the City Council last night. One year, no drama. At least until the fall.


Oakland is also wrestling with what to do with the Arena. The Warriors may be hell bent on leaving, but that isn’t stopping the City from incorporating the Dubs into Coliseum City, hope against hope. In the near term there’s also the problem of the ongoing debt at the Arena, whether or not the Dubs are there past 2017-18. Despite the ongoing uncertainty, the City and County have until June 21 of this year to refinance that debt. Without refinancing in place they could be liable for $19 million per year thanks to the expiration of a letter of credit. Refinancing at current historically low rates could save $10 million per year regardless of the Warriors’ plans. Refinancing would also require meeting of some sort of “seismic criteria,” which could involve a retrofit or other additional work to keep the venue in good shape.

Refinancing was approved 7-0. The Warriors may not be much longer for Oakland, but the City and County appear to be getting ready to move on after the Warriors leave.

52 thoughts on “Oakland approves Coliseum EIR & Specific Plan, Raiders lease, Arena refinancing

  1. re: Floyd Kephart: There will be public funding, but not creating a new debt or taking from general tax fund.

    …What’s he have in mind? A rental car or hotel tax? What’s the demand for rental cars and hotels in Oakland? Remember when the 1995 expansion wasn’t supposed to take any money from the general fund? How’d that work out?

    • Uhh, pjk…folks do use Oakland Airport. In fact, it’s busier than SJC (last time I checked). Folks renting cars and using hotels because of the airport…imagine that. BTW, hypothetical taxes on hotels and rental cars are an excellent mechanism for “public funding” because it makes out of town folk pay for your stuff (IMHO of course).

      Make it happen Floyd!!

      • @ pjk/ Tony D.
        Well they are going to have to come up with new taxation from somewhere. There isn’t a great demand for hotels, car rentals in Oakland or even Alameda County if any new tax goes county wide.
        Tony is right about the airport, perhaps they will come up with a new passenger tax on air flights coming in and out of Oakland international airport; the taxes that one pays to fly are already so outrageous, the hope there being that the public won’t notice much.
        The politicians will tell their constituents, that the new tax will be implemented to help several East Bay projects with infrastructure cost. They will say that to make it more palatable to the voters, in hopes that someone won’t get the idea to put it on the ballot. Obviously there going to have to come up with multiple “creative” ways to try to get money for this.

      • What happens when, say, a rental car tax is proposed and opponents say “This tax should be used to pay police officers and teachers, NOT to build billion-dollar stadiums for billionaires!”

      • @ pjk
        I don’t know what happens, but they have to try something. I would suspect that before this is over, assuming they get anything built at the site Oakland /AC will have to come up with multiple public funding sources. We already know that there is money for a new BART station (may include pedestrian bridge); we also know there is money for the transit hub, which is supposed to be in the middle of the project.
        I’m sure there are other federal/state sources (grants, redevelopment enterprise zones), that can be taped into. I’m not suggesting that any of these things by themselves will pay for all the public cost that will be needed, but the idea should be tap into anything that’s there, and create what’s not.
        They could do nothing (which they have in the past), and you would probable complain that they did nothing. (In all fairness I would too) They could try to do something and you would probably say it won’t work (which it may not), they could try and miraculously get something done, and you would probably say they did not deserve the opportunity (which they may not), I can’t see you giving Oakland much credit for anything, even if all they deserved a smidgen.

      • Exactly! Add an airport tax and rental car tax. Also since a new hotel or two will be built on new Coliseum City site…add the hotel tax.

    • Lets say the new homes sell for $400,000 (which is low in the bay area, even in that area of East Oakland/Elmhurst). The property tax in Oakland is 1.7% which would generate over $27M per year for the city. (400,000*.017) * 4000 homes

      • A city usually gets around 10% of property tax these days. So does the county. So you’re looking at $5.4 million total, assuming that the money isn’t earmarked for other city services. Schools receive roughly half of everyone’s property taxes. The rest goes to paying down debt in some form.

  2. Larry Ellison might pay $700M for an NBA expansion team to play at Oracle temporarily once the Warriors are in SF. The NBA is going gangbusters, and it’s the sport of the future generation (far more than football or baseball, anyway). If Milwaukee ends up building an arena for the Bucks, I think we’ll see a 31st NBA team in Seattle, and then a competition for a 32nd franchise.

    If the Raiders leave, the Bay Area could support two NBA teams even with the Kings in Sac. And then Ellison would eventually want to move them into SJ arena after its renovated.

    • There’s precisely a 0% chance of there being an expansion NBA franchise in the Bay Area.

    • Agree with SMG. And if there were somehow going to be an expansion NBA team in the Bay Area, it would be in San Jose from the get go. The NBA is not locked into the same stupidity with respect to franchise location that MLB is.

      Plus, assuming Coliseum City gets off the ground at all, Oracle Arena’s fate will be sealed the moment the Dubs put a spade in the ground in SF. The land Oracle sits on is needed to make the rest of the project work.

      • And a recently done renovation would meet the wrecking ball, probably while the mortgage is still being paid.

      • I think he was saying SAP Center would be renovated, though I’m not sure that would really be necessary.

    • I think that most of you think that Coliseum City is going to actually convince one of the tenants to stay, and I don’t think it will. I agree that the NBA scenario I brought up has a 0% chance in a world where ColiCity happens, but I see 0% chance of ColiCity happening.

      What I’m suggesting is the “ballpark village” concept, but with an expansion NBA team as the only tenant on the Coliseum site, playing in a renovated Oracle…and the Coliseum bulldozed to the ground with the Raiders, Warriors, and A’s all playing elsewhere. I think the ballpark village could work for basketball games, concerts, conventions, etc. in the same way that it could work for baseball. And it requires slightly less parking, too.

      In that scenario, Larry Ellison (or another Bay Area billionaire, but Ellison is a logical target as someone who attempted to buy the Warriors and has the money to do all of this) is playing the Lew Wolff role, offering to pay off the debt of the Coliseum, pay for the demolition of the Coli, pay for the Oracle renovation, AND pay for the expansion team prior to that, obviously…and in return he has site control of Oracle and the 200 acres including the Coli parking lot for any development purposes he chooses.

      If both the A’s and Raiders leave, 10 years from now, that NBA scenario is maybe the best-case scenario for the city and county. They’ll have to get rid of that giant, wasting stadium somehow, and clear debt, and an expansion NBA franchise would allow them to do both.

      • …having said that, I can’t rationalize why an intelligent billionaire would voluntarily put himself in a position that forced him to deal with the politicians of the city and county of Oakland, giving the mountain of evidence of the past two decades that they cannot effectively lead a stadium resolution.

      • @Jacob The reason I don’t think we’ll ever see a second NBA team playing in Oakland with the Warriors playing in SF has nothing to do with whether Coliseum City succeeds or not. it has to do with the fact that it would be monumentally stupid to put two NBA teams that close together, especially given the demographics, traffic patterns and location of the corporate base in the Bay Area. It’s an illogical way to allocate the market for MLB and would be just as illogical for the NBA.

        If Coliseum City fails and the Raiders leave, the most likely scenario is that Lew Wolff offers Oakland salvation and is given the site to do his own development. He has pole position on the site and it would make a lot more sense for him to do it than a theoretical NBA expansion owner ten years from now.

        The only way the Coli site is available for that theoretical expansion owner is if Coliseum City fails and then San Jose becomes available to San Jose. Even if that happened, that theoretical owner would be far more likely to locate in San Jose rather than Oakland.

        It’s a moot point because if the NBA ever does expand there are a lot of markets they’d put a team in before putting a second team in the Bay Area. Seattle, Kansas City, San Diego, Cincinnati, and St. Louis all seem more likely. The most likely way the Bay Area would get a second NBA team would be if an owner like Ellison bought an existing team and moved it here (because the NBA has less control over that).

      • I meant “San Jose becomes available to the A’s.”

  3. Question that still bothers me. Why don’t Kephart and the City planners and A’s just work on building their Ballpark on the DC03 and DCO4 Estaury West Side of 880 near the water?

    Than Kephart and the Raiders can develop the on existing East side 880 site cloer to Bart? Doing this would also create more space for open ground parking as well.

    • Large scale development on the western side of 880 would cost many thousands of people making over $50k a year their jobs. The re-zoning was done in large part to try and protect them.

      • That’s what DC03 and DC05 should have been zoned for on on the SouthWest side of 880 site

    • Most of the land west of 880 is privately owned. Someone would have to figure out how to buy it and relocate businesses. The publicly owned land is either open space (not to be built upon) or otherwise in use (Zhone, bought by Alameda County last year).

      • Hmm….than why doesn’t the greedy big time developer Wolff try and buy the West Side of 880 land near that small basin than he can do whatever he wants with it? Especially since he wants nothing to do with the Coliseum City Kephart led group.

      • Wolff already tried that with Coliseum North. In one was selling so it went nowhere.

      • Privately owned? I thought the City and County owned the 200 acres in question?

      • He’s referring to 2005/6 Coliseum North. It’s also the reason that Victory Court was a non starter despite being paraded around as “MLB’s Favorite.” Private Land Owners, running businesses.

  4. Raiders, Kephart and whoever is hired to design and build the stadium need to make sure the new stadium is designed like Seattles Century Link Field and and Dallas Stadium and learn from the mistakes of what NOT to do from the rushed and half azz Niners bland Levi Stadium.

    Designing it like Seattles Stadium will also generate big time crowd noise and create that extra home field advantage that is essential.

    • Kansas City (at Arrowhead) broke Seattle’s crowd noise record (at least once). And that’s without any architectural effort to contain noise. And not so long ago, CenturyLink would start emptying out at half time. Fans showing up and staying is the only thing that matters and will ever matter in terms of home field advantage. The building means very little, especially in all the sports with standardized playing surface (i.e. anything that’s not baseball). There is nothing special about the building itself at CenturyLink.

      • I beg to differ. Century Link Field design is sweet IMO. The top level is on top of the field which means the viewing of the field if still great. The crowd noise stays enclosed and ends up being directed down to the field. I will take Century Links design and look more than Arrowheads any day of the week. Only slight issue I have with Century Link is the exterior needs to be a little more up to date like Dallas’ exterior.

        Coliseum City needs to build plenty of retail restaurants, lounges and sports bars and grilles around the new stadium for folks to go to before and after games.

      • I’m glad the City and County “leaders” are finally getting their heads out of their collective arses and realizing how important it is to the community and long term economic growth and rejuvenization of city and county of keeping it’s sports teams here. The Warriors are gone…they should just focus on Raiders and A’s.

        Raiders stadium should be capacity of 62k with the flexibility and ability to expand 70k for larger events such as a Super Bowl.I also think a mobie theater shold be built in Colseum City. Movie theaters are always active and making money especially during the Slate Spring and Summer and Winter mholiday months.

  5. What East Oakland needs is affordable housing, and there is little to no incentive for potential developers to build any such housing, let alone to be able to self generate enough funds to be applied to a new stadium.. Also, potential developers will likely find it too risky to build market rate housing at the Coliseum City site.

  6. I also think a retractable roof for the new stadium is the way to go…especially since Oracle will not be there for long after Warriors leave.

    Multipurpose use is the key. With retractable roof….conventions can be hosted, college hoops games (ncaa tournament) hockey game or two (exhibition games also) soccer and international friendlies (mainly Mexico and U.S. games) wrestling, boxing, concerts, motorcross, rodeo, dog shows etc…

    • @cisco- you must know of money sources no one else does- retractable roof, keeping both teams, building to 70k capacity…are you Jean Quan using an assumed name?

      • Retracatble roof or transparent roof. If there is a dream or vision. Than dream big and have the vision be big. They want a 55k seat stadium…so adding 6k more seats with some flexibility to eventually add more shoudn’t cost billions more.

        The retractable/transparent roof will cost an extra 100 million….but the project is gonna cost 1.4-1.6 mill anyways. The key is making this new Stadia Multipurpose where it would be used all year round potentially and not just for 8 home Raider games. The other key is making it look much better than that crap Levis Stadium. More events will come to a newer and nicer looking stadium for their events than bland Levis in a crap location. Kephart says he has investors lined up…so we will see what happens.

      • If the greedy Lew Wolff doesn’t want any part of Oakland…which he doesn’t unless it is under his own terms where he develops it and makes money off everything….than let him build his own ballpark somewhere on the North Side of the existing lot or have him look into Jack London Square.

      • Plus if crappy cities like Detroit, Philly, Baltimore, Wash DC, Cinncy, Cleveland can build their teams multiple new stadiums and arenas and some on the same plot of land (Detroit, Philly, Baltimore) than why can’t Oakland? They need get their crap together and realize keeping both teams is the way to go!

        None of this half azz…passive aggressive…well…maybe we can keep at least one team non sense. Keep them both or don’t keep them at all! The Warriors are gone…focus on Raiders and A’s!

      • Yes greedy LW- the same guy who wants to keep the A’s in the Bay Area even with the mighty Gints trying to do all they can to force them out. And of course Mark Davis, the same guy who could have kept the Raiders in the Bay Area by partnering with the ‘9ers instead is proposing to partner with the Chargers in LA, or move to San Antonio, or move to St Louis when the Rams leave- that my friend is greed-

    • A more practical solution is a Coliseum re-tool into a football-only stadium (Much less costly than a building a new facility from scratch – besides Davis already has enough finances to finance a redo privately)

      • I an not for a renovation. Reason being the foundation and piping is still old as a heck! With a whole renovation….the exisitng stadium will still need to be torn down to it’s foundation with all new piping and sewage systems framing etc…It would also have to be raised and built above sea level this time as opposed to the existing site where the field is below sea level. A big problem.

      • @ cisco007

        I’m with you on the remodel, while it makes more economic sense I really wouldn’t want to do that other then a last resort. Also with a remodel we could be back in the same situation in 15-20 years, never mind the fact that Davis hasn’t indicated that he would go for it. Let’s just go new. With the retractable roof you make some decent points, but I don’t think there’s enough of a need with other Bay Area venues, to justify the increased coast.

    • NEVER going to happen. Nobody that matters is even considering that.

      • A football only Coliseum conversion would be too practical of a solution for this ongoing farce – that’s why it may not occur.

      • “Nobody that matters is even considering that.”

        We really don’t know that. And even if they aren’t yet, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t consider it as a fall back if their preferred options fail. Even if a remodel is currently Davis’ fourth choice, if a new stadium at Coliseum City doesn’t pencil out and both the Rams and Chargers get deals done in St. Louis and San Diego, it could quickly become his first choice. It’s way premature to say “never;” there are too many variables.

    • There’s no way a retractable roof makes any kind of sense. It would cost something like $200 million. East Oakland is going to have a tough time competing with San Francisco (and even San Jose) for convention business no matter what you build there. And most of the other events you mentioned can be held in an open air stadium.

      Kephart and the Raiders are already struggling to find a way to make an $800 million stadium (plus $100 million in existing bond debt) pencil out. Adding hundreds of millions of dollars to that is a non-starter. There just isn’t enough demand for a venue that size whether you put a roof on it or not.

      • I don’t get why the convention idea keeps coming up. A domed stadium a convention center. Domes that are sometimes used for conventions are right next to an actual convention center. The dome itself can’t host a convention. They just support specific components of the convention.

        Conventions also need a lot of hotel and restaurant options close by. Unless the whole 800 acre Coliseum City idea gets built, there’s no way the coli site would come close to having the infrastructure to support a convention.

        Plus as Bartleby referenced, at that point you’re competing with SF and East Oakland is going to lose out there.

        A football stadium (domed or not) has limited uses, especially when factoring all of the other sites available in the Bay Area. This is why the Raiders should have teamed up with the 49ers on a new stadium. Having two NFL stadiums in the Bay Area is a massive waste of resources.

  7. Also, Davis may not have other options (besides St Louis- ugh!)
    Kroenke is the front runner to Los Angeles, and may share a new stadium. However, Davis would be wise to avoid that arrangement – Kroenke is worth $6 bil. – Davis $500 mil. Kroenke would have big time leverage over the Raiders in a possible stadium share in LA.

    The Raiders would also be more successful playing at a revamped football-only Coliseum than trying St Louis (which has demonstrated that it’s fanbase does not support the NFL)

    • @ duffer Don’t agree it’s been demonstrated that St. Louis does not support the NFL. It has rarely had any winning NFL teams. The Rams win-loss history since moving to STL is very similar to the Raiders in Oakland – which is to say bad except for a few years in the late 90s/early 2000s. Nevertheless the Rams have generally drawn considerably higher than the Raiders in Oakland. I think the record shows, considered in context, that St. Louis is an adequate market.

      Anyway, because of NFL revenue sharing, the market matters much less than the stadium deal. A new SOTA stadium in St. Louis with a significant public contribution is a very attractive proposition for an NFL team. I am worried.

      • The Raiders missed the playoffs or even played a winning season for 12 years – St Louis has made the playoffs recently, The Rams play at a 22 year old domed football only stadium (better than the Coliseum) Under the circumstances, the Rams attendance in St Louis has been dissapointing -that’s why Kroenke likely is moving the team to Los Angeles. The Rams’ attendance has been in a steady decline for several years.

      • Raiders win pct. since 2012 : .292

        Rams win pct. since 2012: .362

        Comparing the Ram’s football-only stadium (built in 1993) to the Coliseum (an odd looking multi purpose stadium completed in ’66) under the circumstances, the Raiders fanbase is better than the St Louis Rams has proven to be.

    • correction: since 2002, not 2012!

  8. @duffer

    “The Raiders missed the playoffs or even played a winning season for 12 years – St Louis has made the playoffs recently,”

    The Rams have not had a winning season in 11 years and have not made the playoffs in 10 years. They only got in (as a wild card) in 2004 with an 8-8 record because of the overall wretchedness of the NFC that year – l not the kind of thing to set the fan base on fire. Their fan base also endured a stretch of 4 out of 5 years in that period when the Rams won 3 games or less (including 1-15 in 2009). By way of comparison, the Raiders were at least in playoff contention in 2010 and 2011 with 8-8 records in a tough division.

    “The Rams play at a 22 year old domed football only stadium (better than the Coliseum).”

    The Rams play on turf in a faceless, featureless indoor venue that was almost obsolete at the time it was built. The Coliseum is a shitty stadium, but when you consider the fact it is a grass field outdoors with beautiful weather, I’d argue it still offers a better game day experience than Edward Jones Dome.

    “Under the circumstances, the Rams attendance in St Louis has been disappointing”

    The Rams sold out every single game they played in St. Louis from 1995 until an 0-8 start in 2007. The Raiders never came close to this despite playing in a stadium that was significantly smaller than Edward Jones (63K vs 66K), even before the upper deck of the Coli was tarped.

    “-that’s why Kroenke likely is moving the team to Los Angeles”

    Kroenke may move to Los Angeles for the same reasons the Raiders may move to Los Angeles – they both need new venues, have uncertain prospects of getting them in their current markets, and see potential upside in a larger market.

    “The Rams’ attendance has been in a steady decline for several years.”

    Actually, Rams’ attendance has been pretty consistent since 2008 averaging 56,458 (see http://www.statista.com/statistics/250082/average-home-attendance-of-the-st-louis-rams/). By comparison Raider attendance has been much more up and down (and lousier) in that time frame with an inferior average of 52,309 (see http://www.statista.com/statistics/250076/average-home-attendance-of-the-oakland-raiders/). No teams are immune to extended periods of crappy teams.

  9. @duffer

    “Raiders win pct. since 2002 : .292

    Rams win pct. since 2002: .362”

    This difference is statistically insignificant and is almost entirely due to the Rams strong performance in 2003, which was a long time ago. As noted above the Raiders have had two recent seasons (2010, 2011) when they were at least competitive at 8-8, the Rams none since 2004.

    “Comparing the Ram’s football-only stadium (built in 1993) to the Coliseum (an odd looking multi purpose stadium completed in ’66) under the circumstances,”

    As noted above, and having been to both, the Coli actually offers a better game day experience.

    “…the Raiders fanbase is better than the St Louis Rams has proven to be.”

    As a die hard Raider fan I’d love to say this is true, but it’s just not the case.

  10. Relocate to the closed army base, build new and improved……take a page from Emeryville and Staple Center…..venues, sports, concerts, retail shops, high end town homes…..visitors center…..

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