Raiders oppose A’s lease extension, set up showdown for Coliseum development rights

Forget the Oakland city council — an actual heavyweight has weighed in on A’s owner Lew Wolff’s proposed 10-year lease extension, and boy, are they mad:

The development team working to build a new Raiders football stadium has urged city officials to reject a lease extension for the Oakland A’s because it would frustrate the football team’s desire to tear down Coliseum next year.

In a letter to Mayor Jean Quan and council members last week, the development team’s attorney wrote that “the current proposal … simply allows the A’s to buy more time to find a site outside of Oakland … and disrupt the ability to deliver a stadium for the Raiders and the ancillary developments adjacent to that stadium.”

Translation: We wanna build a new stadium where they play! Why aren’t you making them leave? This is so unfair!

Matthew Artz’s article in the Oakland Tribune does shed a bit more light on the gamesmanship going on between the A’s and Raiders owners, though, as well as some of the strategy involved. Both Wolff and Raiders owner Mark Davis, notes Artz, have their sights set on not just building a new stadium where the current Oakland Coliseum now stands — a location that’s plenty big enough to fit two stadiums if need be — but on being the primary partners on developing the rest of the site. And that town literally isn’t big enough for the both of them:

Because outdoor sports stadiums are often money losers and Oakland can’t afford to help pay for them, any new stadium development in the city is expected to include shops, a hotel and offices to subsidize the project. Sports economists have questioned whether the A’s and Raiders would want to work together because a second stadium would remove land that could be used for more profitable development.

“The probability of Coliseum City working financially and some team committing to it would be greater if there was only one team involved,” Stanford University Economics Professor Emeritus Roger Noll said when asked about the development in April.

In other words, it’s clearer than ever now that both owners’ business plans involve extracting as much as possible in negotiations over the Coliseum site, not just in public money, but in development rights to land, which in the suddenly hot Oakland real estate market could be more valuable than any old sports stadium. Which explains both why Davis is insisting on the A’s eviction at the earlier possible time, and why Wolff is eager to get a lease extension signed that would force the Raiders to wait (two years, anyway) on their stadium plans: The owners aren’t just negotiating with Oakland for the best possible deal, they’re competing with each other not just for sports market share, but for dibs on a mammoth piece of prime real estate.

Right now the Oakland council seems cranky about the Raiders’ less than detailed plans, and so is inclined to let Wolff have his way. (Or as much of his way as they have to, anyway.) But then, Davis hasn’t yet sent any late-night emails pointing out the existence of the rest of North America.



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38 comments on “Raiders oppose A’s lease extension, set up showdown for Coliseum development rights

  1. Sure is looking like Oakland is going to have to make Sophie’s choice between the A’s or Raiders. Both need the other gone to make a largely privately funded ballpark/stadium work at the Coliseum site (albeit on public land). Seems a no brained to me if you’re choosing between a team that could drive foot traffic to the development 81 times a year vs 8 but who knows with Oakland. They’ve always had a strange obsession with the Raiders.

  2. Big talk from a team that has gone 4-12 the past 2 years & hasn’t had a winning season since 2002. It’s just a matter of time before czar Roger Goodell hops on a plane to Oakland & threatens with Los Angeles.

  3. @Dan – it’s actually 10 with preseason & could be up to 12 with playoffs. The Raiders were there first & there’s that Super Bowl hosting thing as well. But the whole thing is so stupid & makes MLB & NFL look so petty when they could easily help both teams build new stadiums. I’m actually glad Oakland hasn’t given in.

  4. I don’t even live in Oakland, and I’ve reached my limit.

    Goodbye, Raiders and A’s. Let some other city/cities be the suckers. I think Oakland will be better for it.

    And this spills over on my feelings towards Sacramento’s arena deal, since that’s where I live. If you didn’t think it was possible, now I’m even more opposed to this deal, because THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS. You spend $500M, and gain 200 seats, and expect they won’t be whining about the arena being too small? What part of Naiveville do they think I live in?

  5. “Let some other city/cities be the suckers. I think Oakland will be better for it.”

    Let’s aim higher…

    “Let no cities be the suckers. Sports will still be played. Stadiums will still be built. We’ll all be better for it.”

  6. So…if the Oakland Real Estate market is so hot now, my proposal would be for Oakland to tell the A’s and the Raiders to pound sand, and develop the site to attract some high wage earning tech office, retail and housing on the site. I imagine the tax revenue the city would get would be far, far greater than what any stadium development would get.

    And regarding Oakland then not being considered a ‘major league city’, well, who cares? How about having making Oakland a great place to live that people would want to visit or raise their family?

  7. @mp34 re:up to 12 games

    I’m not sure that’s a road worth going down, when you add the same possibles with the A’s making the playoffs (possible 3+4+4) it looks even worse, not to mention it’s not all that desirable to actually host the Super Bowl.

  8. mp, it’s 8 games. The 2 preseason games are always sparsely attended, and the Raiders haven’t made the postseason in 12 years (and don’t look poised to do so again for a long time). But even if you want to go down that hole, that’s 12 games vs 82 baseball games minimum (the A’s always play 1 preseason game minimum against the Giants). And likely even more given that the A’s actually do make the playoffs and on alternating years play 2 preseason games vs the Giants.

    And as for the Raiders being “first”, they’ve only been there since 95. They don’t get to call back to 1966 just because it might suit them. They decamped and moved to LA. The A’s have been there for nearly 50 years and had been good partners with the city until the city started dicking them around in the 90’s. As for MLB helping to build a ballpark, Wolff hasn’t asked them to. Nor has he asked Oakland. He’s apparently offered to buy the county out of the JPA with his own cash. He’s got the funds, he just needs access to the land at the Coliseum. The Raiders however have a $500 million dollar funding gap they need someone to fill, and that’s AFTER the NFL would throw in $200 million.

    Why this is even a discussion for Oakland is baffling. One side (the A’s) is capable of developing the land for the city with no contribution other than the land they’ve had set aside for sports purposes for over half a century. The other side (Raiders) is eventually going to come looking for a handout to cover a very obvious funding gap that even some of their own council members and county partners have recognized is unrealistic to expect to be bridged…

  9. I honestly expect Sacramento will now be thrown into the mix, now that they’ve done such a fantastic job on putting together an arena deal. We’ll be expected to act with haste. MLB will like it, because Sacramento will be willing (victims), and it keeps the A’s in Norcal. I think even the Giants will accept this solution.

    Raley Field will act as a temporary home while the City or some JPA builds a “publicly-owned, privately funded!”-stadium in the railyards.

    We have the momentum, the site, the temporary venue, the fans, and the support. I’d say it’s way better than 50-50 this happens.


  10. Problem is Raley would be a stretch as a temporary venue. It wasn’t really built with MLB in mind. They’d be better off finding a field somewhere and throwing up a temporary stadium.

  11. Raley is a stretch as a temporary venue. Absolutely true.

    But if that’s the only hurdle left, it’ll do fine. Put up some temporary bleachers where the grassy hill is now, and they’d be in business for a season.

  12. The “Major League City” stuff is basically silly propaganda aimed at minimally functional for they generally require external entities to create their self-esteem. If you haven’t read Chris Hedges most recent feature “Kneeling in Fenway Park to the Gods of War” – it’s a pretty stern look at how the psychology of fans is manipulated for financial gain.

  13. Dan:

    “As for MLB helping to build a ballpark, Wolff hasn’t asked them to. Nor has he asked Oakland. He’s apparently offered to buy the county out of the JPA with his own cash.”

    Has Wolff come out and said that on the record? I know he said he would build in San Jose without public subsidies, but I haven’t heard him say the same re: the Coliseum site.

  14. I agree with Sacramento being a great relocation site if San Jose doesn’t materialize. I like the current location of Raley Field. The outfield view includes the Tower Bridge, Capitol dome, Old Sacramento, Ziggurut pyramid building, and Sacramento River. The Railyards site is shielded from the river by the freeway, and is many blocks away from the downtown core. Raley Field would have to be town down and rebuilt from scratch since the foundation was not built to handle a MLB stadium, but the infrastructure is already there. Sacramento may not have as many corporations, but it would draw so many more fans to their games. Oakland residents could still make the drive on weekends to see games.
    The cherry on top would be if the River Cats relocated to the East Bay. A smaller 12K seat stadium could more easily fit into sites south of Jack London Square (not Howard Terminal).
    The effective territory of the A’s could extend from Alameda County all the way east to the Nevada border. This would be a great strategic plan for the A’s.

  15. Lew Wolff has responded.

  16. Quakes fans won’t be happy to hear he’s explored turning their long sought home stadium into a multipurpose venue even on a short term basis. Not that it would work, it’s far too narrow to shoehorn a baseball field into. They’d be better off at a venue like Raley Field.

  17. Wait, what? Wolff says he has “not done one thing relative to” moving the team? So emailing the council that if he didn’t get a lease he could move the team was just a crazy coincidence?

  18. Emailing the council that he could move isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive from “(doing) one thing relative to moving.” The latter in his opinion may only cover actually investigating moving.

    Plus Wolff has been pretty consistent that he has no interest in leaving the NorCal area from the beginning and his email didn’t contradict that. He only wants to build the team a stadium somewhere in NorCal and he’s threatened to leave Oakland. But he, like many A’s fans including myself, don’t see the A’s leaving Oakland but staying in NorCal as relocation or moving. Simply building a new stadium in the region they’ve represented for nearly half a century. San Jose, Fremont, Oakland, it’s all the same to Wolff and many A’s fans. It’s all the Bay Area.

  19. Right, but Selig isn’t offering to let him move to San Jose, and Fremont isn’t interested in letting him build a stadium. So that leaves Raley Field and, um, Emeryville?

    See, this is why when someone threatens you, it’s generally a good idea to ask what they actually intend to do.

  20. Well reportedly AT&T Park is their likely destination. Apparently last week MLB reiterated that if Oakland doesn’t sign the lease the A’s are moving across the Bay to San Francisco at least short term. Presumably until MLB figures out if San Jose is going to happen or if they need to fall back elsewhere.

  21. If either Wolff or the Giants wanted the A’s to play at AT&T, this whole thing would have been over a long time ago.

  22. Well they don’t WANT them to play there. But they’ll play nice in a pinch. Sure the Giants and A’s have their disagreements, but if it comes down to being bullied by municipalities and the NFL, the MLB lodge will present a united front. Particularly if Selig has any say in the matter, which he obviously does.

    If Oakland isn’t an option MLB will eventually have to work something out that the Giants aren’t going to love. Because the alternative is cowtowing to a city that has treated one of their franchises like garbage for 20 years. And that just won’t do.

  23. I can see the Giants allowing themselves to be used as leverage by Wolff. Actually putting up the A’s on their sofa indefinitely… that could be a major fight.

  24. I would agree that Wolff doesn’t want to leave the Bay Area. Even splitting it with the Giants, he’s in a much better media market than he would get in Montreal, San Antonio, or anywhere else. Indeed, his behavior has been that San Jose (or nearby Fremont, also still in the Bay Area) were his only intended move locations. I would agree with Neil’s inference that he really doesn’t have a viable relocation threat.

    Oakland’s leaders also don’t have many options. They certainly don’t want to lose the team, especially in an election year. Playing hardball with Wolff might work to call his bluff, but it would also generate political blowback. Hence, the quick willingness to settle. The deal arguably isn’t much worse than the current status quo anyway.

    I think it’s safe to say that enough funding to provide for a new football and/or baseball stadium in Oakland is not going to materialize anytime soon. I also would be very surprised if another city (i.e. Portland) somehow came up with the money to build an actual MLB stadium to lure the A’s there. I think the economic situation is such that public funding of new stadia will be less and less likely going forward.

    Thus, Oakland fans will likely be enjoying their teams for a while, even if prefering to just watch from home.

  25. @Neil- well guess who just said she wholeheartedly supports the new lease- Mayor Quan- yes she is pathetic but all of you who felt the A’s had no options …think again- LW was hoping Quan would continue on her ignorant ways- somehow she managed to save herself before she blew it big time-

  26. 2015: Santa Clara Raiders. Oakland A’s. Then in 2020…Oakland Raiders. San Jose A’s.

  27. From reading the letter from R. Zachary Wasserman, esq to Mayor Quan on, it appears the lawyers may be getting ready for some more work. It was noted at least twice that if Oakland agrees to the new A’s lease, that the city would not longer be honoring the terms of the agreement with the proposed Coliseum City development group. Now all this really does is give the Coliseum City group, who is still approximately $500 million short, a way to save face – “Hey, if it weren’t for the A’s we would have built RaiderLand with left over change and funded the police department” – and possibly receive some money from Oakland to settle breaking the contract terms.

    The funny thing is that the Oakland city council seems to want 1) more money from the A’s with a longer guaranteed time in Oakland and 2) a shorter time before they can demolish the Coliseum. Unless a new ballpark magically pops out of the ground, within Oakland city limits, that seem contradictory. It will be interesting to see how much push the Raiders and the Coliseum City project actually have.

    I think that some of the Oakland City Council’s back-and-forth continues to be how can we kick the can down the road longest until someone actually does something. The status quo is in Oakland’s best interests. How can we keep the A’s, the Raiders and now the Coliseum City Project (which is separate from the Raiders but aligned) from doing anything other than continue to play at the Coliseum or plan for a project that there is no funding for.

    So, if the City votes for the A’s new lease, do the Raiders leave or does the Coliseum City project goes to court to block it? That certainly wouldn’t be the status quo. If the City votes against the A’s new lease, do the A’s move to San Francisco, either at AT&T Park or Candlestick (while it is still standing, of course).

    Unlike some editorial writers, I think it would be easy for the A’s to share AT&T Park for a couple of years. The only headache is in September when college football is played at AT&T Park. But, the Yankees, the Mets, the Jets and the (football) Giants all used Shea Stadium in 1975 (the year of no turf remaining). It wasn’t easy scheduling but it can be done. So, two baseball teams and a college football team should be relatively easy.

    But, I think it’s safe to say the next big decision block is the Oakland city council vote. Then watch what the reaction is. My bet is that in 2019 (since we’re all prognosticating) both the A’s and the Raiders are still playing in the Coliseum and complaining about the building while negotiating another lease agreement.

  28. And if the A’s are kicked out of Oaktown, where does that leave the Raiders? Berkeley? Palo Alto? God forbid, Los Angeles?

    I’m not all that certain that the NFL will let the Raiders use a baseball park as a temporary home.

  29. If the A’s were kicked out the Raiders would move down to Santa Clara no doubt to share with the Niners while the new hypothetical Oakland stadium was built. Remember Levis Stadium was designed specifically with 3 locker rooms so the Raiders could move in. Berkeley was also an option being considered due to the university’s desperation to pay off the seismic rebuild of Memorial Stadium.

  30. The Oakland A’s cannot play at AT&T park.

    It’s expressly prohibited in Section 2 et seq. of the Ground Lease between City and County of San Francisco (through the SF Port Commission) and China Basin Ballpark Company LLC.

    Regardless of any report, MLB, the A’s and the Giants cannot just get together and wave a wand and make it possible. And anyone who thinks that the SF Port can just “go along with it” is probably not familiar with the approval process and what happened with America’s Cup, Warriors Arena, 8 Washington, Prob B, etc.

    A’s at AT&T is great for faux leverage and it seems to have really taken hold with the under-informed but it’s not actually possible.

  31. Tommy, anything is possible. And with the Giants status in the city right now I’d be shocked if the city and port turned them down when it comes to temporary use of AT&T Park. Yes it’s not as easy as just waving a wand, but leases can be modified, the ports can be assuaged, and even Art Agnos would have a hard time blocking it. Remember the primary reason the Warriors arena was derailed and moved wasn’t some grassroots organization, it was the Giants who primarily drove that effort.

    But it’s neither here, nor there, at this point since it is looking like the A’s are staying put for the next decade. Or until the San Jose lawsuit shakes out at any rate.

  32. Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to modify a lease is insignificant next to the power of the San Francisco Waterfront Alliance.

  33. You mean Art Agnos’ crotchty band of losers with nothing better to do? My money is on the Giants and their allies at city hall. They created the influence of the Waterfront Alliance. They can destroy it just as easily. Besides people like that in SF are easily distracted. Simply put a new Google bus stop on the Embarcadero and they’ll all be so busy dealing with that you could build an airport next to AT&T Park and they’d hardly notice.

  34. Despite how some of my posts probably read, I really enjoy reading your comments.

    As for betting on the Giants and their allies, did you see how quickly Art, Aaron, and the SFWA squashed the Giants big Mission Rock plans at SWL337? That’s not to say that I agree with the crotchty band of losers but I do acknowledge their ability to significantly impact these types of things.

  35. Well I found that to be the Giants getting their just desserts. They rile these folks up, set them loose on the Warriors and their arena, and then the hand that fed them got bit in the process. What’s the old adage, be careful what you wish for?

  36. MLB is the problem. They would prefer pay the A’s $30M a year in welfare payments than have them earn that money in a new ballpark in San Jose. Why not let them have their San Jose home and let MLB pay the Giants the welfare payments for ten yaers or so. It’s a net plus for everyone and it opens up the Coliseum property for Davis and his wishful followers.

  37. JJ: It’s not a net plus for MLB. If the A’s don’t get that money, someone else will. So the amount paid out of the RS fund is basically the same.

    That doesn’t mean that the A’s (or any other team) shouldn’t seek a better solution than they have, but it is not like MLB gets to pocket that $30m if the A’s don’t get it (even if they did, given the numbers baseball operates on, $30m is a relatively paltry sum… you can’t even pay two aging, suspended infielders with that…)

    Generally in business, when you want something from someone else you have to pay for it. I have always believed, and continue to believe, that when Wolff and Fisher are ready to discuss realistic terms for San Jose with the Giants (and MLB) both parties will be willing to negotiate with them. Wolff & Fisher may or may not be able to make a deal that makes financial sense for them. However, they will never get there if they just sit around complaining to newspapers about how MLB needs to act.

    MLB doesn’t need to act. They have already acted (in declaring SJ Giants territory, rightly or wrongly). It’s Wolff and Fisher who need to act now… and sending out cryptic emails isn’t going to get it done.

  38. JB- those “cryptic emails” worked their magic- watching Oakland bend over should be humorous to try and retain their remaining 2 teams-

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