Oakland Coliseum, Population: 1

This morning I went into the wayback machine to find out how many times I had written about Scott McKibben. The answer: 4, all in 2014 and 2015. McKibben previously was the head of the Rose Bowl and would, presumably, provide some professionalism to the Coliseum JPA, which had no one in the executive director role for six years. He was hired in early 2015. He abruptly resigned last week after reports indicated that he negotiated an additional $50,000 finder’s fee from the three-year, $3 million naming rights deal with RingCentral.

We’ll see if the other shoe drops and the City and County decide to get litigious. For now, let’s consider what’s happened on Scott McKibben’s watch.

  • Warriors announced move to SF’s Mission Bay site in 2014, after initially announcing a move to Piers 30-32 in 2012
  • Raiders announced move to Vegas in early 2017
  • A’s announce intent to move to Howard Terminal in 2018

Throughout all of this, McKibben was being paid upwards of $250,000 per year. What was he getting paid for again? Prior to the McKibben hire, AEG was brought in to replace SMG as the complex operator. AEG has been to the key to more bookings on the calendar for both the arena and the stadium. McKibben doesn’t deserve blame for the Warriors and Raiders moves, as those decisions were way over his head. Yet there is precious little to replace 8+ NFL games and 41+ NBA games. Plus, as Chase Center establishes itself as the Bay Area’s premier arena for concerts (13 during the opening month of September, 30 through the rest of the year), the JPA and AEG are scrambling to fill dates at the renamed Oakland Arena. Speaking of the name, that also unceremoniously traveled across the bay to the ballpark at China Basin. Thankfully, an arbitrator ruled that the Warriors have to pay the remaining $40 million of debt on the Oakland Arena, though the Raiders settled a much more favorable outcome on their behalf. I would feel bad for McKibben, but he’s the same guy who in 2017 tried to jump ship to the 49ers and Levi’s Stadium, only for the JPA to give him a raise to lure him back. The raise was $50,000. That’s a totally “professional” move if I ever heard one. Regardless, he’ll land on his feet.

Since the Warriors and Raiders announced their exodus, no teams have been brought in to fill their enormous gaps they will leave behind. The closest the JPA got is some talk at the beginning of this year about an Indoor Football League franchise. The new Oakland franchise would be owned by Roy Choi (not that one), who also owns IFL franchises in San Diego and Cedar Rapids. San Diego’s team didn’t do great on the field or at the gate this year, pulling in only 300 fans for its season finale a couple months ago. The sordid history of of indoor football deserves a proper book treatment, maybe even a TV show or film. I’ve heard many colorful stories. I’d still like to know the full story of why the Fry brothers chose not to move forward with the San Jose Sabercats even after they won their fourth championship. Other than Oakland’s arena football dalliance, there has been no talk about fielding other team sports. No WNBA team despite Rebecca Kaplan’s cheerleading for it.. No G-League team as the Dubs chose Santa Cruz instead. No other fringe team sports like roller hockey, indoor lacrosse, or team tennis. At the Coliseum last year there was a bid by an East Bay group to convert the entire shooting match into a soccer complex flanked by the existing arena and a new ballpark. That went nowhere fast.

AEG may not be blameless for this situation. The company makes its money by filling dates and selling concessions, and for a venue operator fringe sports don’t make a lot of money to piggyback from. There is a line where it might make more sense to leave dates empty instead of actively trying to fill the arena to only 5,000 or so. For an outdoor stadium that requirement scales much larger due to the minimum staffing needs for given events.

What do you have when all the kids are leaving you with an empty nest? The only thing that’s worth anything these days is land. There’s plenty of it off Hegenberger, 110-155 acres depending on who you ask, 800 total when you include the land stretching across the Nimitz toward the airport.. There are also sweet, sweet entitlements to cash in if anyone’s interested. That’s why the A’s are sticking around at the Coliseum through 2023. As long as they are a tenant, they could exercise the right to build 3,000+ homes and 4 million square feet of commercial and office space. If that sounds like Coliseum City, that’s because it is. The A’s heard the questions about the confusion over the need to develop both Howard Terminal and the Coliseum. At a social media influencers forum last week, they said that the Coliseum isn’t needed, that the two projects are separate. There’s a timing problem with that position, since the only entitlements available right now are at the Coliseum. The only thing that can generate the cash the A’s are seeking to fund the ballpark is at the Coliseum. Ancillary development at HT is undergoing the approval process. It’s part of the long tail. Scratch that, l-o-o-o-o-o-n-g tail.

From the Coliseum Final Specific Plan, 2015

Now the awkwardness begins. The A’s plan to leave the Coliseum just like the other teams are doing, only they get to cash in on those sweet, sweet entitlements. Personally, I agree that they don’t need them. They have 40-55 acres at HT they can leverage if everything goes to plan. A redevelopment plan at the Coliseum is already approved. It’ll take time to bring in reopen the bidding process and bring the right uses in. That’s exactly what should happen. No shortcuts.

If everything doesn’t go to plan, the Coliseum remains a good backup plan. As we’ve used this joke ad nauseam, we’re talking about the A’s. There is no Plan B. It’s the best dad joke I’ve ever heard.

11 thoughts on “Oakland Coliseum, Population: 1

  1. Man, I’m just sick.

  2. This is the stupidest blog post I have ever seen. You have ZERO IDEA how the Coliseum JPA works in the matter of the A’s and the Raiders. Stay out of it. You’re lost.


    Sent from my iPhone


    • Zennie!

      How’s it going? Are you trying to hitch your wagon to your friend McKibben for when he resurfaces in Vegas? That would be poetic.

      P.S. – I can’t wait for your late night reaction vlog to this.

    • @Zennie

      I do believe it was you that posted a comment here a few years back with totally erroneous information, and then claimed it was some sort of joke or April fools trick.

      Please stay away, you add nothing.

    • Hey Zennie, instead of bitching at the guy, why don’t you tell him what he got wrong and why? Seem childish to just come on here and troll.

  3. Someone heeds to do a financial analysis of the Coliseum. What are the potential revenues less the costs to maintain the facility. I suspect the returns may be negative. If, tear it down.

    Regarding the A’s developing two major projects at the same time without prior experience is a stretch. They may end up cannibalizing their own market.

  4. Sadly, there have been numerous Oakland area personalities of power and influence, both elected and non-elected, who have played at least some indirect role in the impending move of the Warriors and Raiders out of Oakland. If the political climate in the Bay Area regarding the impact of professional sports teams on the greater community doesn’t change, the A’s could wind up being moved to another market, In this case, leaving Oakland without any major professional sports team.

    In my opinion, the idea of the A’s developing the Coliseum site and using its proceeds to build up the infrastructure lacking HT area and its surroundings and for building a new ballpark is unrealistic. i still very much believe that the Laney/Lake Merritt area near downtown Oakland is the best site within Oakland for a new A’s ballpark. At he same time, Laney College could be relocated to a state-of-the-art campus at the Coliseum site, as well as to build badly needed affordable housing and commercial development at that site, too.
    Unfortunately, the political climate in Oakland is against the A’s building a new ballpark at Laney/Lake Merritt for fears that a new ballpark there will spur on gentrification and chip away st the demographically diverse working class character of the city. On this issue, political pressure dictates that preserving the character of the city is more important than retaining its professional sports teams.

  5. @ ML

    I have heard Dave Kavel say on more than one occasion, that he was expecting an initial environmental impact report to be out this summer for HT, he even suggested it could be in August.

    I was wondering if you know how close this could be, I was thing August seemed a bit early and perhaps his estimate was an optimistic one?

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