Oakland could be close to securing waterfront land for possible-maybe-kinda-sorta A’s stadium

Oakland could be close to a settlement in a suit over use of land at Howard Terminal that could free up space for an Oakland Athletics stadium, or could be not so close. I’ve already spent valuable vacation time this morning trying to understand the proposed Coyotes lease, but the very short version here looks like: Oakland is going to give up $10 million a year in revenue when SSA Terminals moves out, as they were suing to be allowed to do, but will gain control of a large swath of land that it could use for an A’s stadium. If somebody can come up with the money to pay for one. And if Oakland can afford to hand over land to the A’s instead of seeking another tenant who might actually, you know, pay rent.

A’s owner Lew Wolff, for his part, said Wednesday of the Howard Terminal site that “from what we’ve seen, it looks impossible.” Of course, he would say that, since he wants to convince MLB that the only possible solution is to allow him to move to San Jose. It’d be really nice if someone would issue some actual financial numbers to back up any of these arguments, but it looks like that’s still a long, long ways off.


38 comments on “Oakland could be close to securing waterfront land for possible-maybe-kinda-sorta A’s stadium

  1. @neil- you need to provide some more context on site- clean up of contamination at HT is projected at 100M. There is no parking in the area and infrastructure to handle 35k fans81 days per year will need some serious upgrading- not to mention pedestrian bridges and automobile bridges over railroad tracks- site was already studied by Oakland back in 2002 and deemed too expensive-LW knows this- so do those in power in Oakland- another smoke and mirror- remember VictoryCourt…

  2. Neil, HOK Sport (now Populous) did just such an analysis for us all 14 years ago on that very site. In 2000 they estimated the site including cleanup and ballpark construction would cost $571 million dollars to build on. Take inflation and materials costs into account today and the site would cost in the $750 million range to build on. Over at newballpark.org a regular commenter and structural engineer estimated a similar number just crunching the numbers on site remediation or building a platform over the current cap on the polluted soil along with prevailing estimates of ballpark cost and came to a similar conclusion to HOK’s estimate+inflation. Basically it would be the most expensive ballpark ever built outside New York by a large margin.

    So THAT is why Wolff says it is impossible. It would cost a quarter billion dollars more than anything he has budgeted out for a ballpark in San Jose, and that’s before the inevitable cost overruns. And currently Oakland still have no way to pay for any infrastructure improvements around said ballpark that would be required to get fans in and out safely (and around the current rail line that runs between all access points and the site.

  3. Maybe oakland can use “keep the A’s in oakland” supporter money to conduct the study and EIR… or maybe they can get the CEO of Clorox to pay for the study and EIR

    So from what i read this means oakland is giving up $10 million a year and going to have to contribute money to get the site ready…hmmm yeah sounds like a good deal for the city ;)…typical oakland pols type of deal

  4. Neil, you are brave writing about the Oakland A’s saga. Thanks for today’s post!

  5. The HOK study was commissioned by the Coliseum JPA in 2001 or 2002. They looked a various sites. HOK if i remember correctly ranked the sites. Fremont i believe was ranked 1st and HT last…

    This was way before LW and current ownership came into existence.

  6. So 10+ years later Oak pols going to back to the same sites and ignoring the numbers form a study they commissioned.

  7. John, as Guey said, the Coliseum JPA commisioned the report. In addition to Howard Terminal they explored Pleasanton, a pair of sites in Fremont, the Coliseum and their prime site was the Uptown Oakland location that Jerry Brown sold off to his cronies. Of the sites Howard Terminal was by far the most expensive location they explored.

  8. IF any one is interested here is the HOK report presentation for the city council in oakland…

    http://www.oaklandfans.com/ballpark/hokPresentation/executiveSummary.PDF

    Slide 13 has the cost breakdown for each location.

    Like Dan said the uptown site was the overall best location bust was lost due to other “plans” the mayor at the time had…

  9. “…Howard Terminal was by far the most expensive location…explored…”
    Hang the expense!
    Spend a billion on a place that a few hundred flag-waving/drum beating cheap crazies want in a place nobody wants to be in – OAKLAND.

  10. These posts from other users make it even easier to see why San Jose is the best option. Oakland simply cannot afford this any more; the A’s should be allowed to move to the best available local option.

    As a life-long Giants fan, I hope they can see the logic behind this… But I suspect the real goal here is to try to get the A’s to move to “Anywhere but California.” I just think it’s sort of mean.

    Enough of this antitrust exemption.

  11. But why does it have to be a “local” option, Mike?

    As noted before, Wolff owns the Oakland MLB franchise. If he can’t make it work in Oakland (even if that is due to Oakland’s bad financial situation – as you suggest), why should MLB prevail upon the Giants or anyone else to solve his problem for him?

    If he really wants out of Oakland, he should make a formal request to relocate and let MLB come up with the best option not currently in anyone else’s “territory”.

    If he were looking to move to Manhattan or Chicago instead of SJ, I bet the “local” support for the move would be cooler, and people wouldn’t be railing against what they see as “unfair” MLB practices.

  12. @jb- you make no sense- all 2 teak markets are shared territory- why is the bay area have arbitrary lines of differentiation especially when MLB has declared it a large market?

  13. SJ: It isn’t arbitrary at all.

    If/when the Cubs decide they want to move, they won’t be allowed to move next door to the White Sox. Similarly, if the Mets had wanted to move to Manhattan rather than build a new stadium in Flushing, they would not have been automatically entitled to do so.

    You think MLB (or the Dodgers) would let the Angels move to downtown LA? MLB’s version of ‘shared’ territory differs greatly from yours.

  14. The $1.5 billion in development from the Chinese in the Brooklyn Basin area coupled with a new waterfront stadium can and will do wonders for the city of Oakland. I envision an area similar to what the Padres have at Petco Field: Beautiful buildings, nice restaurants and a stunning waterfront ballpark.

  15. John, the Angels have been exploring moving to downtown LA (2 miles from Dodger Stadium). And no one has suggested that they’d need MLB or the Dodgers approval to do so. Intra-territorial moves are not subject to the same requirements as inter-territorial moves. The Bay Area is just the only 2 team region where the teams have divided territories for some odd reason that makes little sense (since the same divisions don’t exist in the other 2 team territories).

    Dean, that’s all well and good that a development would help Oakland realize a success similar to San Diego around PETCO Park. But you do realize that San Diego paid approximately 70% of the cost of PETCO Park to make said development happen. And it only cost San DIego $450 million, not $1.5 billion (or $750 million as HOK Sport suggested).

    I’ve been saying this from the start, if Oakland is willing to put up a substantial portion of the building cost (like San Diego did), I’m sure Wolff would be willing to listen. Otherwise Wolff has indicated a private solution does not pencil out in Oakland, and frankly none of the supporters of keeping the team in Oakland seem to be able to find a way for a private development to pencil out either. Even Don Knauss (CEO of Clorox) who is probably the biggest business interest party trying to keep the team in Oakland has no interest in owning the A’s or participating in the actual building process because he knows it’s a money loser. If Oakland wants a San Diego style development they’ll have to pay for it in part like San Diego did. Oakland is no San Francisco, and Oakland is not San Jose.

  16. @ John – actually, if the Cubs wanted to go to the South Side, they could do just that according to the MLB constitution. The Cubs share the exact same “area” as do the Sox; same as for the LAX and NYC markets. If Artie Moreno wanted to build a stadium next to Staples Center, he could (at least per the MLB constitution).

    Only the Bay Area has this arbitrary differential, which is easily solved – mirror-image the marketing area for both teams, taking in the entire nine-county SF Bay Area, and toss in the three counties in the Monterey Bay Area as well. The “number” of people that SFG loses exclusivity to in Santa Clara County is more than made up for by the additional “number” gained in the combined populations of Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Tossing in Solano, Sonoma and San Benito is just frosting on the cake.

  17. Thx guys for correcting JB- that’s the most bizarre thing about the bay area- only thing TR does is keep a team from building a ballpark in that area- and in this case building one 40 miles further away from the existing one- crazy- ideally hope the SJ suit goes to discovery so once and for all the gints claim of a significant amount of SV revenue will be exposed as a lie-

  18. Because moving further away from the team you are “competing” against is the same as a team moving across the street from their competition… right?

    We already know how illogical this is, if anything i hope that the san jose lawsuit makes MLB defend that logic in open court!

  19. Sierra Spartan that is a very logical approach but like SanJoseA’s said, all that already happens. The only thing that TR define is the physical location of the stadium the teams play in.

    Both teams do marketing in all bay area counties, they share TV territory in all the bay area, giants have team stores in A’s territory, bay area companies sponsor both teams regardless of TR location (e.g. chevron is a giants sponsor but located Oakland, Netsuite sponsors the a’s but located in giants territory) etc…

  20. Yep, it’s different from the other two-team regions. And that’s completely irrelevant.

    Wolff and his partners bought their team knowing exactly the boundaries of their territory. And now they’d like the league to change the rules. It’s okay to ask and it’s okay for the league to change the rules. And it’s okay for the Giants to believe they deserve some compensation for the resulting infringement on their territory. There’s nothing fair or unfair about the situation – the cliche fits: it is what it is.

    And, one more time, this has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of monopolistic activity for which anti-trust laws are designed.

    But it is kinda stupid for Bud to have let this drag on for so long. Let the two teams make proposals for resolving the impasse and arbitrate.

  21. @keith- while I agree with your closing sentiments the fact that the bay area is managed differently than all other 2 team markets is relevant. You can’t claim the territory is a “large market” territory and therefore neither team is able for revenue sharing when one team has 7 counties and the other 2. If MLB wants to keep the $40M welfare check coming to the A’s forever than fine- but don’t take that away from LW and JF and say at the same time your stuck in Oakland- that’s changing the rules by which they bought the team.

  22. ” If MLB wants to keep the $40M welfare check coming to the A’s forever than fine- but don’t take that away from LW and JF and say at the same time your stuck in Oakland- that’s changing the rules by which they bought the team.”

    You’re talking about two entirely separate things, but, sure, if the latest CBA is going to eliminate Oakland’s welfare check then maybe that should be taken into account as part of the negotiations for moving the team. Although the A’s aren’t the only team that has to deal with the impact whenever a new CBA is agreed upon.

  23. Dan, thanks for your reply. That OAK is no SF and not SJ is irrelevant. We all know that. But have you seen downtown SD? It is beautiful with a number of Condo towers and wonderful skyline. I attribute it largely to Petco Field. Developers clearly see the value which has spurred economic growth. This can work in OAK. If LW publicly expressed his desire to sell the team, I believe the right suitors for the team would step up. Yes, OAK will have to chip in but if the right group steps up, it could limit what the city of OAK would have to contribute.

  24. @Dan. South of Petco park is a dangerous neighborhood. The condos you’ve mentioned were there before the ballpark. The ballpark itself sits between a nice downtown and a shady neighborhood. I know because I used to live there. You can’t tell me that downtown SD is nice because of the ballpark. That’s just ludicrous.

  25. “You can’t claim the territory is a ‘large market’ territory and therefore neither team is able for revenue sharing when one team has 7 counties and the other 2.”

    This is apples and oranges — the Giants only “have” seven counties in terms of *territorial* rights, which governs which cities they can move to (or deny other teams the right to move to). In terms of TV rights, which is what matters for actual revenue, the Giants and A’s share a territory that includes all of Northern California and half of Nevada:

    http://cdn.fangraphs.com/blogs/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/MLBBlackoutMap.png

    There’s nothing stopping the A’s from marketing themselves to San Jose residents right now. Yes, they might bring in more money if they were to play in San Jose rather than Oakland, because they’d be closer to more fans with more money. But Oakland is just as much part of a large media market as Queens or Anaheim is.

  26. Agree Neil- so make e territory truly shared like all other “large” 2 team markets- why have an outlier that prohibits a team from moving within its media/tv territory that is 40 miles further away from its competition- bottom line- you can try to hide behind mlb’s anti-trust exemption but thre aren’t many people who will argue that it makes logical sense what the gints are trying to do- hence the lawsuit- sounds like August is when MLB will ask for the suit to be dismissed- cant wait

  27. There’s no reason not to have shared territory, but there’s also no reason not to have the A’s owners pay the Giants owners something for getting an equal share of the territorial rights, especially since Wolff bought at a discount compared to the Giants’ owners. What that “something” is is what’s now holding up everything.

    Now that I think about it, though, I wonder if San Jose would actually be the best site for a stadium, if the A’s had free run of the Bay Area. Would it potentially be even more lucrative for them to just move to San Francisco?

  28. @neil- look up your facts- the gints owners got a discoun t- LW/JF paid a reasonable market price- and your last comment- do you ever wonder why the ’9ers chose to move to SV v. SF? SF is a beautiful albeit cold as hell city. SV is the economic engine of the bay area- once again check your facts-

  29. I’m not saying that Wolff didn’t pay market price. I’m saying that market price for the A’s – $180 million in 2005 – was less than he’d have paid for a team that had the rights to move to San Jose or San Francisco.

    As for the South Bay vs. San Francisco, it’s not about which is the “economic engine” or a better place to live. It’s that SF is centrally located to all the transit lines and highways, so can draw from the entire region. The Bronx doesn’t have as many rich people as New Jersey, but the Yankees stayed put because you can’t easily get to New Jersey from Brooklyn and Queens, let alone Connecticut.

  30. Neil- look at other MLB sales in this same period including one that was in a “large market” in LA where the territory is shared- then tell me that the LW got a discount because the team is in Oakland. Second, SF is not a sports city- fans come from outside the city- if you want butts in the seats than you locate in an area where there are fans, with disposable income- with Caltrain into downtown SJ, first leg of SJ Bart to be completed in 2017, and a cental high speed rail station in downtown SJ giving the central valley access in an hour you have one of the most desirable areas for professional sports. Any wonder why the gints are fighting so hard?

  31. “…then tell me that the LW got a discount because the team is in Oakland.”

    They paid what they paid for the territory they knew they were getting. They would’ve had to pay more if it included San Jose. As you wrote…

    “Any wonder why the gints are fighting so hard?”

    Which is in line with Neil’s point: There’s significant value to be gained by the A’s by having their territory changed. And they should get it for free?

  32. @keith- Neil’s point was that LW got a sweetheart deal because of being in Oakland- false. Neil’s second point was that SF is the best city for a ballpark because- well- it has transit and freeways- true but no different than SJ. Yes LW bought the team knowing that SJ was given to the gints free of charge in the early 90′s when they themselves wanted to move to SJ. They didn’t- the fact that SV remains relatively untapped because they built their ballpark in SF not SJ sounds like a bad business decision on the gints part. So MLB has a business decision to make – share the territory completely which it is other than where you can build a ballpark or miss out on the most desirable location for a ballpark. So sure- stay in Oakland- continue to collect $40M welfare checks because there is no way in hell Oakland can afford public dollars for a ballpark and no way in hell anybody privately builds in Oakland- or go to SJ, gets off of welfare, and have one of your last 2 ballpark issues resolved-

  33. We’re a bit off-site-topic, so this is the last I’ll post on this, but…

    “Neil’s point was that LW got a sweetheart deal because of being in Oakland…”

    No. Neil wrote…

    “I’m not saying that Wolff didn’t pay market price. I’m saying that market price for the A’s – $180 million in 2005 – was less than he’d have paid for a team that had the rights to move to San Jose or San Francisco.”

    So, now they have the option of purchasing an “add-on” for their territory, via negotiation with the “gints” and MLB.

    Sorry, you’re just never going to convince me that the A’s ownership has been treated poorly by the league since they bought into the club. I’m 100% certain they knew what they were getting into.

    “…have one of your last 2 ballpark issues resolved”

    In the minds of MLB owners, there are always 30 ballpark issues ;)

  34. @Keith- Moreno also paid 180M in 2003 for a large market team that has no restrictions on where they can build their ballpark in their territory- neither you nor I have any indications what might have been promised to him by MLB who as I recall choose to appoint a BRC to study the issue- bttm line LW can/will just stay where he is- collect $40m a year welfare and have MLB totally embarrassed when the A”s are playing in the WS in an outdated football stadium that will be torn up from the Raider games- this isn’t LW problem to solve- he’s doi g just fine- its MLB’s to solve-

  35. @Keith- MLB rules on T-rights are flat out wrong and they will pay dearly in the lawsuit San Jose has filed.

    The value of the A’s and Giants is far higher now than in 2005. In fact, the increase is so large for both teams whatever Wolff bought the team for in 2005 becomes irrelevant.

    The Bay Area was split on accident, Selig let this happen years ago. The reason why duopolies are set up T-rights wise in Chicago, New York , and LA was to avoid this exact situation from occurring.

    Here is the problem Selig has, in Washington-Baltimore Selig got a free ballpark for the Nationals so he was able to barter TV rights to the Orioles to keep them happy.

    In the case with the Giants-A’s TV is shared already and the A’s are building privately in San Jose. Therefore Selig cannot ask the A’s to pay the Giants 100M+ and build privately in San Jose. It makes zero sense, therefore Selig is stuck in mud and cannot get both teams to agree. Now if the ballpark in San Jose was free like in Washington then Selig would have made the A’s pay the Giants off.

    Selig hates privately financed ballparks and two in one market is far too much for him to stomach.

    Hence the 4+ year delay and San Jose suing MLB. Selig is such a coward he will not do what is right and call for a vote and let the A’s in San Jose. In which case, the A’s “try” to build in San Jose and if it succeeds (very good chance) then MLB can compensate the Giants through revenue sharing with breaks for a few years.

    San Jose has a very strong lawsuit with lawyers who know how it is to “lose” being on the other side…..Hence why they took it on a contingency.

    Therefore your argument about Wolff buying at a discount in 2005 with San Jose not included holds zero weight. What MLB and Selig has done is wrong and their error when the leagues combined in 1993 not having the Bay Area shared 100% shows they acting like a “illegal cartel”.

    San Jose will get the A’s, it is a matter of time.

  36. “In which case, the A’s ‘try’ to build in San Jose and if it succeeds (very good chance) then MLB can compensate the Giants through revenue sharing with breaks for a few years.”

    Show of hands who thinks the other 28 owners are going to vote to take reduced revenue sharing payments for the next several years in order to let Lew Wolff move to San Jose?

  37. @neil- you’ll see 30 owners do just about anything if SJ obtains standing in August and the discovery process gets set to begin.

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