The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority finally revealed some details of A’s owner Lew Wolff’s proposed lease extension, and they’re pretty much what we’ve been hearing for a while now:
- Wolff would pay about $15 million in rent over the course of the 10-year extension, a slightly higher rate than they’d be paying now. The team could leave with two years’ notice if the Raiders cut a deal to build a new stadium on the Coliseum site, or starting in 2018 regardless of what the Raiders do, but Wolff would still have to pay rent on the Coliseum.
- Wolff would settle a dispute over $5 million in back rent by instead investing $10 million into a new scoreboard system, something he’s been wanted to do anyway.
- The Coliseum Authority would put $1 million a year into a fund to fix the Coliseum’s sewage issues.
The big news, though, is the dueling “fuck yous” that the Oakland city council and Wolff issued today over tomorrow’s potential vote on this deal. The Oakland council has ordered its four representatives on the stadium board — that’s half the body — to vote against Wolff’s plan, and instead offer its own proposal, which will include higher rent payments, and possibly more restrictions on the A’s out clause. In response, Wolff declared today that “we are 100 percent finished” with lease talks, and “if someone wants to do something else, we have no interest in that. … If we don’t get a positive vote, we’ll be very sad after 14 months of negotiations.”
If you’re scoring this game of multi-dimensional chicken at home, the calculus goes like this: Oakland officials know that Wolff needs to have a place to play after 2015, and if he doesn’t want to be forced to play in the street — or, I guess, in someplace like Sacramento, which would be marginally better than the street — he needs to bargain with them over the Coliseum. Wolff, meanwhile, is simultaneously trying to isolate the Oakland councilmembers — Alameda County board reps, don’t forget, are fine with this deal — and make a case to his fellow MLB owners that “Hey, Oakland won’t give us a lease, won’t you pleeeeeeeeze let us move to San Jose now?”
If anything, Oakland has less to lose in this standoff: Yeah, the A’s could potentially move, but there’s nothing really stopping them from moving if they do sign the lease, anyway. The real question is what Wolff is going to do if Oakland calls his bluff: Is he really going to go into the last year of his lease with nowhere else to play, hoping that either Bud Selig’s successor panics and lets him have San Jose, or some other city jumps in with a new stadium offer? (Though a new stadium elsewhere could never be completed by 2016, and there are pretty much zero available MLB-ready stadiums where he could play in the interim.) That would be gutsy, I suppose, but also leave Wolff potentially having to come crawling back to Oakland if neither MLB nor another city takes the bait.
It all promises to be great drama, anyway. More tomorrow as events develop.