Oakland officials respond to A’s early lease announcement by refusing to show up to vote

Okay, I don’t think anyone saw this coming:

(06-27) 11:54 PDT Oakland — The anticipated approval of a 10-year-lease deal between the Oakland Athletics and the Coliseum authority was canceled Friday when representatives from the city of Oakland failed to show up for the meeting.

The really short explanation here: A’s owner Lew Wolff jumped the gun on Wednesday and announced that a lease extension was in place (to strong-arm Oakland into agreeing to one, possibly?), then Oakland officials said no, they still needed to look at Wolff’s latest offer and say whether they approved of it, and now … they’re implementing a passive resistance strategy and refusing to show up to talk about it? Maybe?

This whole thing is devolving into a game of chicken between two sides pointing guns at their own heads, so your guess is as good as mine what happens next. I’ll report back on further developments on Monday — though presumably not on what is actually in the proposed lease deal, since that was only going to be revealed after the vote, and now there has been no vote. Cray-zee.


31 comments on “Oakland officials respond to A’s early lease announcement by refusing to show up to vote

  1. I’m out the door to a Brooklyn Cyclones game, but feel free to theorize about this one yourselves. Try to play nice.

  2. I hope Wolff calls their bluff. I have never seen a more dysfunctional response to a situation than this. They vote to not allow their members to show up Wed but don’t let any of the parties or the public know? I would not be shocked if this is the last straw for MLB and Wolff vis-a-vis Oakland. If they were looking for a reason to leave, Oakland just gave them a huge one.

  3. Oakland pulled a real childish move not letting their two members show up when the JPA vote is only a procedural one before the Oakland Council City vote.

    They are sending the message “unless Wolff commits to Oakland long run, we will play hard ball”.

    Problem is Oakland wants what San Francisco has and what San Jose wants…..a free ballpark for the people.

    They don’t want to pay a dime for anything……land, infrastructure, the stadium itself, or even parking.

    They figure because the A’s are artificially constrained by MLB/Giants they can play “hardball” and force Wolff to commit financial suicide and build at Howard Terminal for 800M or at the Coliseum as part of the larger plan.

    But there is another issue….The Raiders.

    Oakland does not want to alienate the Raiders as their lease is up and a brand new stadium just popped up 35 miles away that has a 2nd home team locker room and is opening up in 1 month.

    The Raiders are not artificially constrained by the NFL/49ers, they can pick up and go and it scares Oakland big time……Raiders have all the leverage but a moron in an owner who is not willing to go out and get the 500M to get this done like Jed York did with the 49ers.

    In the end Oakland will not negotiate with Wolff because they in fact have the upper hand. The A’s have no where to go but ATT Park and Oakland does not believe that will ever happen.

    Only way the tables turn is if San Jose wins its appeal come August in the 9th circuit and MLB is facing a full blown trial…….Then Oakland has to come to the table as they would be facing real competition like they are with the Raiders.

  4. I love it. It’s about time a public entity played hard ball.

    As for bluffing – who’s really full of hot air on this? Oakland who has 18-months left on the existing lease? Or MLB/A’s who have no legit relocation options? It’s not like the team is providing any meaningful contribution to the city’s budget to begin with. If the city doesn’t get everything they want in the 10-year extension, they can tell Bud and Lew to go kick rocks.

    Lesson on leverage, kiddies: recognize when you have it and don’t be afraid to use it.

  5. Tommy, MLB has plenty of realistic relocation options. They could put the A’s in Montreal next week for starters. I can’t wait to see MLB call the city’s bluff.

  6. Well Dan, it doesn’t seem that you have a clear understanding of the issues in play here. Suggesting that Montreal is a viable option for next week is great hyperbole but not so great analysis. I wouldn’t get your Green and Gold socks in too much of a bunch though, Oakland will likely acquiesce and provide the terms that MLB wants.

  7. A’s fan since 1971. Fed up with the Oakland city politics. I won’t respect fisher/Wolff if they put up it. Move! Call their bluff! Leave’em with that concrete toilet bowl with Marky Bowlcut and the tarps.

  8. Mayor Quan press release http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/ceda/documents/pressrelease/oak047858.pdf

  9. Don’t worry…Mayooor Quonset Hut says the Saudi prince will build you a ballpark. Bwaaaaaahahahahahahahahaha

  10. It’s semantics, but I don’t think Wolff and MLB jumped the gun on Wednesday. Technically speaking it does appear the A’s do have a deal with the JPA. Today, the city of Oakland killed the possibility of the JPA approving the deal. The county votes are there, which means the votes are there to approve the deal. The most under-reported part of this whole story was on full display today. That’s the fact the city council members and county supervisors REALLY don’t like each other. Apparently City Hall voted on this in secret on Monday, and then never told their county counterparts. That’s pathetic. This is on them. They need more time to review but forgot to tell their business partners? Yeah, sure…

  11. Oh so Wolff and Selig announce its a done deal before it is even voted but it is the politicians who are are fault for still not in agreement on a bad deal? Wolff has a couple of the politicians in his pocket but not all of them are sell-outs…. MLB tried to strong arm them again and now everybody is upset because for once they refused to be pushed around by the powerful sports owners? Really….get a grip and calm down. Wolff has no where to go and should pay a lot more than he is willing to pay so hold your horses and wait. Why all the hurry. Their present lease goes through 2015.

  12. It’s pretty clear that somebody put the cart before the horse here, but which party is (most) guilty? Not sure on that one.

    With Wolff/Fisher’s history, I don’t blame the city for being cautious. It is unclear to me, however, what they hope to gain from the delay in this case.

    Somebody needs to explain to the two parties that Blazing Saddles was a movie, not a negotiating playbook…

  13. Not that I ever think they (or anyone?) would do it, but a team could move to San Antonio tomorrow and temporarily play in a 50,000-seat dome until a different ballpark is built. Given that San Antonio is now the 25th-largest metro area (and climbing), and that Central Texas has some 5-plus million people (and rapidly growing), it’s a *decent* threat. I wouldn’t move there over San Jose, but it’s likely better than just having the East Bay.
    Alamodome this Spring for a Rangers-Astros exhibition series:
    http://www.bigleagueweekend.com/images/gallery/1.jpg

  14. The Alamodome features a 285-foot distance to right field. I suppose MLB could make an exception if it wanted to, but at that point even Montreal would make more sense.

    The problem here is that if Wolff, or MLB, wants to get a new stadium in another city (and you know they don’t want to just end up in the same situation somewhere else), they need to do what they did with the Expos: Hold a competition among other cities to see who’ll come up with the most generous offer, which rules out moving someplace and then opening talks. I suppose they could do like Philip Roth’s Ruppert Mundys and make the A’s a road team, but if they didn’t try it for the Expos…

    Anyway, I think everyone is jumping the gun a bit here. If Wolff really wanted out of Oakland that desperately, he wouldn’t be trying to negotiate a lease extension. (I know some people think this is just a ploy to have lease talks break down so he can then leave, but really, he wouldn’t need to go through that charade if he wanted out.) And if Oakland really wanted to boot the A’s to make room for a new Raiders stadium, again, they could already have done so. This is a massive game of chicken, and even if lease talks don’t resume, everyone is still in the same place: Oakland wants to keep both teams, Wolff wants to stay in Oakland for now while waiting for a shot at San Jose, and Mark Davis wants the A’s offa his damn lawn but has no way to force it to happen. This can easily drag on like this for a while, even beyond the A’s lease running out, though I imagine there will be at least some stopgap resolution before then.

  15. When the Dodgers played at the LA Coliseum, left field was only 252 ft.

    I’m by no means saying the A’s (or anyone) are moving to San Antonio – I’m merely responding to the idea that there’d be nowhere for them to go since there’s a perception that there aren’t large, baseball-ready stadia elsewhere.

  16. Yeah, and MLB has a “never again” edict in place since then. I believe this came up when somebody was looking at the viability of playing baseball in the Hoosier Dome, I think it was?

    Anyway, yes, there are other places you could play baseball games. But none of them are better for baseball, or in bigger media markets, than the Coliseum, which is a big reason why Wolff is talking about a lease extension in the first place, even if he ideally wants an extension that lets him move to San Jose the minute Bud Selig’s successor throws over those mean old Giants and comes rushing into his arms.

  17. If I were the Oakland A’s, I would skip town, but not without a farewell season in 2015. Following that, I would move somewhere east. My choices would be San Antonio, Memphis, or even Montreal. For the record, I would chose Memphis because Autozone Park is major league ready. It just needs a year of expansion. As a result, Oakland’s bluff is called and the only reason why the A’s would stay is to be abused by their mayor and city council.

  18. Rankings of US cities by TV households:

    SF/Oakland/San Jose: 6
    San Antonio: 36
    Memphis: 49

    http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/docs/solutions/measurement/television/2013-2014-DMA-Ranks.pdf

    Even if you grant two-thirds of the Bay Area to the Giants, what’s left for the A’s is as big as San Antonio, and bigger than Memphis.

  19. Neil

    You are right in terms of market size, but somebody with the city of Oakland is bluffing and one would think the A’s would call the team and City’s bluff. We know the situation where the Raiders wants the team outta there so the Raiders could build a new stadium on the site.

    In regards to San Antonio, I know that the Alamodome may not be the ideal situation for the A’s, but the team can call the place home for the short term. Plus San Antonio is ranked right below Cincinnati which is the smallest metro area with a baseball team. However, the team can draw a fanbase from much of central and western Texas.

    Memphis is a bit more problematic at first, but the team can draw from much of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and portions of Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky. But there is a place not speculated in the comments. That is Orlando which is ranked 18th on the list you posted.

  20. Orlando is really close to Tampa Bay. I don’t think its within the Rays’ territorial rights, but I can’t see either MLB or an owner wanting to play second fiddle to a market that’s already been pretty mediocre for baseball.

    But, sure, San Antonio or Memphis or Orlando or Charlotte or Vancouver or Louisville or any of a dozen or two cities could comfortably sit among the smallest markets in baseball. But if you’re Lew Wolff, do you willingly trade a cut of one of the biggest markets (and dreams about getting into San Jose, pipe-style or not) for being Cincinnati Lite? And still having to deal with figuring out how to get a stadium built? He’d be better off just selling the A’s and buying the Reds.

  21. Neil, here’s a note from Matier and Ross (SfGate) and of course very much pro San Francisco and Giants interests. At least they are not just pro San Jose interests. Here is what they said today:In play: The A’s lease showdown between Oakland pols and Alameda County’s reps on the Coliseum authority has generated at least one tweak to the agreement.

    Despite a provision of the 10-year deal that gave the A’s the right to exit any time with a year’s notice, the team is now promising to stay at the Coliseum at least through 2018. Which is probably about how long it would take the team to get a new stadium, anyway.

    Meanwhile, the Oakland City Council isn’t giving up in its efforts to press for other lease changes – including securing the $5.5 million in back parking taxes and interest they say the A’s owe.

    But Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley and Scott Haggerty were having none of it Friday. They convened a Coliseum authority meeting in hopes of pressing ahead with a vote on the lease, despite warnings from their Oakland counterparts to call it off.

    And that’s just what they were finally forced to do when none of Oakland’s four voting members showed up – including City Council members Larry Reid and Rebecca Kaplan – and the authority didn’t have a quorum.

  22. Matier and Ross are good, but there’s a lot here that doesn’t make sense. First off, there’s been lots of reporting previous to Friday that the year-to-year out clauses wouldn’t kick in for the first few years. Second, when was this concession supposedly made? Friday afternoon? And it’s totally unsourced … it may or may not be true, but it’s almost certainly someone trying to score points of some kind by leaking it to M&R.

    Sorry to be a broken record, but we’ll know more when we see the lease. If we ever see the lease.

  23. What about Charlotte? I’ve dreamed of the A’s moving to NC. I think the new downtown stadium can be expanded. Or should I just keep dreaming.

  24. Charlotte is marginally bigger, as is Portland. But Wolff would at best still be in the position of being in one of the smallest markets in baseball, which would be no improvement over where he is now.

    Look, I’m not saying the A’s could never move ever. But any solution outside of the Bay Area would mean giving up on actually getting a new stadium in either the East or South Bay, which would be the real win for Wolff. Cities like Charlotte are far more useful as places to threaten to move to in order to get money out of his current city — as they were for teams like the Twins — than they are as actual relocation targets.

  25. Always hoped to see the A’s in Portland, which has been discussed at length. I know that there have been some serious red flags recently, but I see it being successful there.

  26. Northern New Jersey…Nobody mentions Northern New Jersey as a landing spot for the A’s because of the territorial rights that the Yankees and the Mets have. However, there are those same issues with San Antonio and the Astros since San Antonio is about a 2.5 hour drive from Houston. From a media rights standpoint, which are different than the territorial rights, the Rangers are also involved.

    Given that the Astros are currently receiving 0 dollars (and 0 cents) for their local media rights, if anyone thinks that they would allow a team into San Antonio without a fight (or serious compensation) they would be wrong. What the Astros don’t need is more competition. At least they aren’t the worst team in baseball anymore (thanks Rays! thanks DBacks!) but they still have a long way to go to make as much revenue as they used to about 10 years ago.

    BTW, the Rangers and the Astros claim a five state area as their local media market. That’s significantly larger than the territorial rights but it shows how difficult it is to move a team without having to compensate someone.

    However, while we are throwing the A’s at other cities, what about Indianapolis? They seem to like to throw money at major league teams. Of course, the Cubs might not like their AAA farm club being displaced. Not sure if Indianapolis could handle three major league teams.

  27. Apologies, I forgot one thing. It seems no one here saw any of the exhibition games in San Antonio. First, it’s the power alley in right field that are really short, even if they are more than 285 feet. Even the L.A. Coliseum had a greater power alley. The “dugouts” were actually benches on the third base side and the stands were significantly (15 feet?) up from the artificial turf (I think it is Field Turf) playing surface. Most of the stands face where the 50-yard line is, so you actually look past into the outfield not the infield. The scoreboard makes the A’s current boards look good. And, it’s indoors.

    In other words, it actually makes the (Your Name Here) Oakland Coliseum look good for baseball.

    A good exercise would be to figure out how many seats you would have to cutout and then make moveable in order to turn the Alamodome into a real baseball stadium. I’d bet that the cost would not be much less than 1/2 the cost of building a new retractable roof ballpark in San Antonio.

  28. I mentioned New Jersey nine years ago! Also why it won’t happen:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2839

  29. Neil is right the market size of the Bay Area and the TV deal the A’s get (45M per year or so). Remember the A’s are televised to the entire Nor Cal market not just the East Bay. That is 10M people all over the region….Ironic people in San Jose can watch every A’s game but yet they cannot house the team.

    If you move to San Antonio, New Jersey, Portland etc….some team is going to be pissed off because of infringement on their TV money which is worth a ton these days. Imagine Bud Selig trying to negotiate with the Rangers AND Astros on San Antonio? Or the Mariners on Portland? Good lord that would be a mess.

    Wolff is holding out for two things with his 10 year lease:
    -Getting into San Jose
    -Raiders and Warriors leave and he has the Coli to himself.

  30. SBSJ: San Antonio and Portland would be a much simpler deal, since that would only be about TV rights, not territorial rights. (Similarly, Washington was in Baltimore’s TV territory only, so Peter Angelos couldn’t veto the Expos moving there, though he could demand tribute for giving up a slice of his TV market.) NJ and San Jose are in actual exclusive team territories, not just TV territories, so that’s a different level of escalation.

    You’re probably right about Wolff’s motives, though I don’t see either of those things happening anytime soon.
    You’re probably right about

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