Yesterday’s bizarro news about Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff angrily rejecting a ten-year lease extension on the Oakland Coliseum shortly after demanding a ten-year lease extension on the Oakland Coliseum has come into a bit more focus, though it’s still pretty bizarro. First off, the A’s organization and the Oakland-Alamada County Coliseum Authority (called for short, naturally enough, the “JPA”) issued dueling press releases at the start of yesterday’s A’s game, in which the JPA asserted that Wolff was refusing to pay $5 million a year in back rent and demanding $3.5 million a year in rent subsidies, while A’s president Michael Crowley retorted that the team had paid all its back rent and wasn’t demanding any subsidies.
Thanks to Marine Layer, the proprietor of Newballpark.org who rushed home from changing a flat tire to pore over the actual numbers, we know that the A’s have in fact been paying rent, but deducting maintenance costs on the Coliseum, as they’re allowed to do by their lease; he speculates that the JPA’s gripe may be over back parking revenues that are currently in arbitration. As for the rent subsidy demand — not to mention unsourced rumors that the JPA’s deal would require Wolff to build a new stadium in Oakland if the Coliseum were torn down for a new Raiders stadium — there’s no way to tell the truth, since neither side has released their actual lease proposals.
In fact, Marine Layer argues, none of this is really about actual lease proposals, but rather about trying to lean on MLB to issue a ruling on where the A’s should play, something the league has steadfastly been trying to avoid:
Wolff wants to show MLB that the JPA prefers the Raiders over the A’s by a large margin, and their inaction on the lease extension offer along with previous stalling on previous offers is proof of that. The JPA is also trying to score points with MLB, providing baseball with a copy of their own agreement as a sort of make good. The JPA is already dealing with bad news related to Coliseum City, so there’s a chance for deflection. Meanwhile, MLB’s own track record has been to avoid these two parties like they were lepers, only coming in when talks completely broke down after the 2013 season. You have to wonder what kind of effort is being wasted by both sides, and what effect if any this is all having on MLB’s thoroughly inscrutable decision-making process…
Since nothing actually came out of last night’s revelations other than the two sides pointing fingers yet again, how about a moratorium on interviews, press releases, and any other kinds of dispatches to the public until you actually get a lease extension done? I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I personally don’t mind if I have slightly less to write about, because at least I won’t be writing about nothing. Which is exactly what this 600-word post is about. Nothing. Thanks.
Marine Layer also (in a subsequent post) points out that JPA chair Nate Miley claims that the county is “talking to [Wolff] about a new stadium all on the existing site,” which could involve public money. Which could be a revelation, or it could just be more grandstanding. It’s sure giving us lots of nothing to write about, though.