Raiders owner: We’d build stadium tomorrow if not for A’s (and, um, being short $500m)

One of the things I find weird about the Twitterized media world is that it always seems like I’m coming into breaking news in the middle of a conversation. For example, here’s how I first heard about Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis’s press conference yesterday about his team’s stadium plans:

As it turned out, this was from a talk Davis had yesterday with reporters at minicamp, in which he said he’d had “positive” talks with Colony Capital, the private developer that is maybe interested in getting involved in the Coliseum City project that Oakland is maybe going to consider building if someone finds the money for it, which isn’t even happening maybe. In the course of this, Kawakami — who is one of the sharper Bay Area sports reporters — asked Davis what he thought about A’s owner Lew Wolff’s plans for a 10-year lease extension on the Oakland Coliseum. Davis’s response:

-Q: But you’ve said in the past that a long-term deal with the A’s on the site could complicate what you want to do.

-DAVIS: It’s not just what I want to do, it’s what the developers want to do as well.

They feel the same way as I do that in order to do a really comprehensive building development there, you have to tear the Coliseum down to start with. You can’t be putting the stadium in a corner here–because of infrastructure and all that…

So the stadium’s got to come down. So it does make a problem, there’s no two ways about it.

-Q: Would “outs” for both sides–for the Coliseum City/Raiders side and for the A’s side–if either gets another deal… would that make it better?

-DAVIS: No. The A’s lease is up in 2015. If we could come to a deal with Colony Capital to build a football stadium there, we would like to be able to tear that Oakland Coliseum down the minute the 2015 baseball season’s over.

And that would get us into a stadium by 2019, I believe. On that site…

But it doesn’t look like it’s going to fit. Lew’s vision and Colony Capital’s vision don’t seem to mesh. So that’s where the problem is.

(Davis added, almost as an aside: “If Lew Wolff was going to do the development there and build a stadium and the Raiders wanted to do it as well, we’d still have to find that $500M funding gap.” Details.)

Ooh, team owner fight, right? Not exactly. The issue here is that while the new A’s lease would let them opt out of the lease extension if the Raiders struck an agreement to tear down the Coliseum for their own new stadium, Wolff wants a guaranteed two years of warning first. (Which makes sense, since they’d have to figure out where else to play in the meantime, and nobody’s building stadiums in a matter of months these days.) Davis, however, wishes that if someone were to find half a billion dollars under the sofa cushions, he could go out and spend it tomorrow, which makes sense from his perspective.

In fact, Wolff can’t be too unhappy with Davis’s comments, because they serve his purpose as well: If the Raiders and Oakland do arrive at a new stadium plan, now Wolff can proclaim, “Look, we’re being evicted — either Oakland, build us a new stadium too, or MLB, let us move to San Jose.” Not that either of those threats is likely to work — if Oakland doesn’t have the money for a football stadium, it really doesn’t have the money for football and baseball stadiums, and MLB would rather see the A’s play on one of those floating Google islands than bust open their territorial rights system that’s been in place since the 19th century. But that hasn’t stopped other owners from trying.

 


16 comments on “Raiders owner: We’d build stadium tomorrow if not for A’s (and, um, being short $500m)

  1. Bust open their territorial rights system that’s been in place since the 19th Century? Really Neil? You mean the territorial rights system that’s been altered/changed many times since the 19th Century (see past MLB relocations/expansions since 1900)? You mean those exclusive Giants territorial rights to SCCo. that have existed only since 1992 (created for the sole purpose of the Giants being able to relocate to San Jose themselves)? Also, way to ignore that all two-team markets (including the one you write from) are shared territories EXCEPT the Bay Area. Allowing the A’s and Giants to share SCCo./SJ (or the whole Bay Area for that matter) would simply be bringing our region in line with NY, LA, Chi and even Balt/Wash…imagine that.

  2. Yes, that one. The MLB owners see it as sacred and (more to the point) something that is solely their jurisdiction, not one for courts or the like. That’s not something they’re going to change their minds over just because one owner is having a lease problem.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any MLB teams have violated another’s territory against the existing team’s will since the AL-NL war of 1901, have they? In all other cases the team owner with dibs signed off on it.

  3. Classic Neil DeMause rebuttal to the facts I presented…AWESOME! Just view the existing Bay Area situation through a black and white lense and call it a day…BRILLIANT! Again, for the umpteenth time, all of the other two-team markets enjoy SHARED territory status (look it up!) and the Giants have exclusivity to SCCo./SJ only because 1) they had planned to relocate here back in 1992 and 2) because A’s ownership at the time agreed to the territorial expansion. MLB owners working together for the betterment of the entire league…imagine that.
    (BTW, the A’s and Giants have co-existed in the Bay Area since 1968 and the A’s are trying to relocate 40 miles further south from SF. Keep that in mind moving forward Neil…)

  4. I think Tony’s being a little tough on Neil on that response. What Neil was (I think) trying to bring forth is that when the Expos moved to Washington, they got in with a price being paid to Peter Angelos, the owner of the Orioles, who now controls the TV rights to both teams via MASN.

    The market exclusivity that blocks the A’s from moving to San Jose is part of the MLB constitution, and can be changed by a 2/3 vote. All that’s required is somebody with the stones enough to call the question. Lew could do it at the next ownership meeting if he so chose.

  5. Logic tells me Fisher/Wolff have the upper hand because they have the cash money. Marky Bowlcut’s BS walks.

  6. Actually, Washington was never part of the Orioles’ territorial rights, just their TV rights.

    Yes, MLB could make the South Bay shared territory tomorrow if two-thirds of the owners wanted to. I think it’s pretty clear that two-thirds of the owners do not want to, or else we wouldn’t still be debating this in 2014. And whatever you or me or anyone else thinks about what *should* happen, I doubt the Coliseum facing demolition would change their minds.

  7. Neil I don’t think you’re wrong. Otherwise there’s no reason for Wolff to have not forced the issue by now. Only thing that still remains a mystery is why hasn’t Wolff pulled the old “threaten to leave” card? He’s actually gone out of his way to NOT play that card. Even when there are obvious markets for him to court like San Antonio, Portland or even Sacramento…

    Could it be that the A’s situation as the bastard son of the Bay Area playing in the worst stadium in the Big 4… really isn’t that bad for them. Seems to me MLB wouldn’t want to promulgate that POV (nor would the other big 3 leagues since it undermines the whole, “we need new stadiums!!!” refrain we’ve been hearing for decades.

  8. My apologies for being so tough on you Neil. You’re the best! Have a great day…

  9. I wonder what would happen if Davis gives up and just moves to LA. Let’s say that Kroenke doesn’t get his way in St. Louis and decides to build a stadium in Inglewood on the lot that he recently purchased and then invites Davis to share the stadium with him. Knowing that the Warriors are on their way out, that would leave the A’s as the only team left in Oakland. Would Colony Capital be willing to work with the A’s at that point?

    What about the city? Knowing that they would hypothetically have just one team left, would they go out of their way and make a risky deal to keep the A’s?

  10. “Even when there are obvious markets for him to court like San Antonio, Portland or even Sacramento…”
    Obvious markets? I’m not the stadium expert here but chances of the A’s relocating there are zero. The only city with an MLB-ready stadium is Montreal & that’s basically just as bad; if not worse. It also would mess up the divisions & would probably force the Rays to the A.L.Central & the Royals to the A.L. West again.

  11. I’m having fun with the “Back to Montreal” scenario. While it will never happen, theoretically it could be done:

    - OAK –> MON goes back to NL East
    - PHI goes to NL Central (reunited with PIT and other pre-1994 division mates)
    - MIL goes back to AL Central
    - KC goes to AL West

    Nothing like a compromise that leaves everyone mad. Youppi!

  12. LOL, I would love to see Milwaukee in the AL Central.

    Seriously, the A’s are going to sign a lease with somebody and it will likely be Candlestick park. They can renovate that area so quickly that they open the 2016 season there. The only thing stopping them is the fact that the city likely wants to use the stadium for the Olympics.

  13. Trueblood, this Colony rumor is a fairy tale. There is no free money. Only Obama and his welfare followers believes in it.

  14. Is Candlestick available? The only thing probably with a remote chance. Why would we assume a team in Montreal would automatically go to the N.L.? Would they be the A’s or the Expos? Would PHI want to move to the N.L.Central? I too would like the Brewers back in the A.L.Central. But more off, I’d like to see divisions scrapped, a balanced league-only schedule in a 16/14 MLB which would be the most fair. But it will never happen because ESPN would cry about only 13 Red Sox/Yankees games as opposed to 19.

  15. Candlestick is set to be torn down next year, so no, not so much.

    And the amount that divisional alignment factors into league relocations decisions is pretty much zero. They’ll put teams where they want, then figure out the divisions later.

  16. Re Candlestick – not to mention the fact that Candlestick is in San Francisco County, which is in the Giants’ “exclusive” area (along with San Mateo and Santa Clara counties). If the A’s are allowed to move to Candlestick, then there’s no reason they would not be allowed to construct in San Jose – the same limitations apply.

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