The Oakland A’s stadium situation has gone from “no action since the late Pleistocene” to “everything happened all at once” in record time. In the last two days, we’ve seen a bunch of Oakland corporate magnates release renderings of what a stadium would look like on the Oakland waterfront (cranes! lots of cranes!), which was followed by A’s owner Lew Wolff calling that site “absolutely impossible” but for the first time indicating that the current Oakland Coliseum site is possibly “a place in Oakland where you could do something,” which for Wolff is practically a ringing endorsement.
And then, last night, there was this:
According to knowledgeable sources, the owners of the Golden State Warriors are part of one of at least three potential investment groups who are interested in buying the A’s and building the new ballpark in Oakland on their own…
Despite being spurned by Wolff, the Rogers-Ghielmetti-Knauss-Boxer team is not willing to give up on the waterfront plan. In fact, sources tell us the group knew full well that Wolff might reject their proposal. As such, they made contingency plans and have been shopping around the Howard Terminal proposal for potential investors, identifying at least three groups who are interested in buying the A’s and building the Howard Terminal ballpark themselves, sources say. And one of these groups, sources say, is led by Warriors’ owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber — two wealthy men who had tried to buy the A’s previously.
Given the timeline here, and that the story (in the East Bay Express) is based entirely on unnamed sources, it seems pretty likely that this is Howard Terminal stadium advocates trying to talk up their site in the media. Still, that doesn’t mean a sale to Lacob and Guber couldn’t happen: Even if it’s the Rogers-Ghielmetti-Knauss-Boxer team that came up with the idea, if Wolff eventually tires of waiting in vain for MLB to give him the right to move to San Jose, he could conceivably throw in the towel and let the whole mess be the Golden State Warriors owners’ problem.
Said problem, meanwhile, would first and foremost be how the heck to pay for a stadium at Howard Terminal, which has been estimated to have a $500 million price tag, but that’s 1) probably an underestimate and 2) not including land and infrastructure costs. Lacob and Guber are currently pursuing a mostly privately funded arena on the San Francisco waterfront, of course, but that’s 1) in exchange for development rights to nearby sites, which Howard Terminal can’t really offer (this is Wolff’s main gripe about the site), 2) an arena that can be used 200 or more days a year, not a stadium limited to baseball, and 3) in San Francisco, not Oakland. Shuffling around sites and rich guys is all well and good, but unless you find one so eager to build that he’s willing to lose money (or at least take on massive risk) on the deal, the real trick is figuring out how to pay for it. Maybe the A’s could charge fans extra for crane rides? Just a thought.