A’s lease squabble continues to transition into A’s-Raiders land squabble

The Oakland A’s lease copyediting controversy goes on, now with Oakland’s city attorney making still more “minor” changes to the document, and Alameda County officials charging that they’re anything but minor:

“The city attorney interpreted that to mean that she could go back and insert changes to the language that she had been attempting to get the A’s to agree to for weeks but they had rejected repeatedly,” Streeter said. “This is the kind of thing that we are now going to have to smooth over.”

This is all completely hilarious, but it’s the kind of thing that nobody is likely to blow up the entire lease talks over at this point. Even Streeter said Friday that a final agreement should be in place within “a day or so.”

Marginally bigger news is that A’s owner Lew Wolff has ramped up his battle with the Raiders over the Coliseum site by sending Oakland city administrator Henry Gardner a letter that, in the midst of much sniping at “mean spirited persons” who would criticize his new lease extension or his good faith, declares that once the lease extension is settled, he’ll explore “looking into the bond costs and JPA operating costs to determine if we can present an offer that would vastly reduce or even eliminate the annual City/County subsidy and allow us to develop and control our own destiny.” And Wolff adds that he has “not once said or assumed that the desired new A’s ballpark would rely on or seek public funding” — calling this a “total distortion” put forward by “some parties.”

At the risk of being cut off Wolff’s Christmas card list, this isn’t actually much of a promise: “Looking into” building a stadium while paying off the existing Coliseum bonds isn’t the same as actually doing so, and it’s been clear for a while that any subsidies Wolff would require would likely be in the form of free land and tax breaks, which sports team owners generally don’t count as “public funding,” even though it is. Really, we have no idea — and for all we know Wolff has no idea — what kind of financing and development plan an A’s stadium would require, so it’s impossible to say what kind of deal it would be for Oakland, either compared to giving the Raiders’ Coliseum City partners the rights to the Coliseum site, or compared to not handing it over to either team.

In any event, though, given the amount of verbiage in Wolff’s letter disparaging the city’s exclusive negotiations with the Coliseum City group over the site, it looks like he’s preparing to move on from fighting with Oakland over the lease to fighting with Raiders owner Mark Davis over the land, as expected. If they play their cards right, Oakland and Alameda officials could turn this into a nice bidding war for the site — though given recent events, it might be a bit much to expect those guys to even hold their cards without dropping them all over the floor.

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21 comments on “A’s lease squabble continues to transition into A’s-Raiders land squabble

  1. The A’s are going to reject the lease and for more than one reason:

    -Larry Reid is right on when he says it is not on the Oakland City Council to negotiate any part of the lease itself. That is the job of the JPA and the City is supposed to either approve it or reject it, not alter it.

    -Oakland wants the A’s to give a 3-year notice before leaving. If the A’s terminate after January 1st, 2016 then the lease terminates on December 31st, 2018. That means the A’s would have to play 3 full seasons before vacating. The A”s wanted only to give a 2 year or 2 season notice. Not a small language change, Oakland wants to contain them as much as possible.

    -The City wants the JPA and themselves to be absolved if the Raiders decide to violate their lease causing harm to the A’s. An example would be if the Raiders cut a deal for advertising at the Coliseum when the A’s control that revenue stream. Are you serious? If I am the A’s, the JPA/Council are responsible for this because it was them who allowed the Raiders to move back to the Coliseum violating an agreement in place to renovate for baseball only, it was that proceeding lawsuit where the A’s won control of ad and concession revenue. Oakland wants the A’s to deal with the Raiders directly in a situation like this…SMH.

    -They want to remove the fact the A’s are putting in money for a new scoreboard. Oakland does not want it in the language so for example if the Raiders decided to keep ad revenue for their games instead of giving it to the A’s like they are supposed to then it becomes “ambiguous” on who actually put money in and owns it. It puts the onus on the A’s to prove it instead simply pointing to the document. It creates “ambiguity” and allows for Oakland to wash their hands clean and let the two teams fight it out. How does this make any sense??

    A’s will 100% for sure reject this…..Why would they agree to this? It is a completely different lease from a terms standpoint.

  2. A bidding war for this site…based upon what value? It’s value is in giving, not selling, the development rights to someone to offset the cost of building either a $1B or $500M stadium. This is not a highly desirable part of the Bay Area

  3. I find it amazing hose easily history is revised by some SJ experts: ”If I am the A’s, the JPA/Council are responsible for this because it was them who allowed the Raiders to move back to the Coliseum violating an agreement in place to renovate for baseball only, it was that proceeding lawsuit where the A’s won control of ad and concession revenue. Oakland wants the A’s to deal with the Raiders directly in a situation like this…SMH.” That statement is totally false!!!!July 1995 – Steve Schott and Ken Hofmann buy the A’s from the ailing Walter Haas in 1995, with the promise to keep the A’s in Oakland. Haas sold for $16 million below market price with the stipulation that the new owners keep the team in Oakland. Haas hoped the concessions made will increase the chances that Oakland will remain the home of the A’s for years to come. He said he believes the new owners are committed to the city. (S.F. Chronicle 7/22/95) January 1998 – Schott and Hofmann demand $48 million from Oakland and Alameda County in a lawsuit claiming they’ve “lost revenue” due to changes made to the Coliseum.

    HYPERLINK “http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/01/22/MN70618.DTL” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/01/22/MN70618.DTL The lawsuit was settled and not lost and as part of the settlement Schott and Hofmann put the team for sale and Selig tabled the bogus sale. The remodeling of the coliseum was paid by the JPA as part of the settlement and chosen by Hofmann. They added the Diamond Seats and raised the bleachers. A non baseball friendly reconstruction chosen by Schott and Hofmann in order for them to have their premium seats. There was a proposal for a baseball friendly reconstruction that was turned down by Schott and Hofmann.

  4. Lilian, I think you’re confusing your time line. The bleachers of the Coliseum were not raised at the A’s urging. They were raised during the initial football friendly reconstruction foisted on the A’s by the JPA and Raiders in 1995-6. The Diamond Club seats were added as part of the rectification from that settlement, but they only encompass about 25 seats or so. Easily the smallest “club seating” section in baseball.

  5. “This is not a highly desirable spot in the Bay Area”? The current site is served by both BART and Amtrak, not to mention very easy freeway access. If you mean not desirable to build residential housing, maybe. But for professional sports teams, it is a very desirable location. I’ve been going to the Coliseum since 1968, and it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to attend A’s and Raiders games, even when the house is full.

  6. Dean, you haven’t been going as long as many then. When the house is truly full, it is not that easy to get in or out of. Luckily both teams attendances have been so depressed for so long (and now both teams tarp a significant portion of the stadium) that they VERY rarely even get close to a full house. Back in the days when the A’s were getting sellouts on some night it was never fun to try and get in or out of the place. You either parked way out up High Street and walked, or planned on taking 30-60 minutes to crawl your way out of the main lots.

  7. With the Raiders already admitting there is a funding gap for their proposed stadium, a bidding war is unlikely. They can not compete with the A’s owners who have deep pockets, that said you don’t get deep pockets by just throwing money around unless there is a high % for ROI.

    I can see the A’s buying out the County but not the City, the city will align with the Raiders to prevent the A’s from having “site control” haha their is oaklands fav term for HT.

    No reason for the Raiders to even get in a bidding war, they have options to move. Santa clara is there as long as the Raiders want to move or even LA.

  8. SBSJ, remember the A’s and JPA have one more option at their disposal. They can simply write-up their own version of the lease and send it back to the City Council. So, they don’t have to be the “heavy” and reject the lease. They can instead do exactly what the City Council did, write a new lease, then say that the changes are minor and that the City Council should have no problem approving the lease with such minor differences.

    Also could someone provide a description of what “fa baseball friendly reconstruction that was turned down by Schott and Hofmann” looked like? Or a web page that has a rendering? I searched but could not find it. I have a hard time imagining a version of Mt. Davis that had all of the luxury suites that the Raiders wanted but was “more baseball friendly.”

  9. I don’t know that there was any rendering done of what was planned for the Coliseum. But I’d like to see a link on them turning it down. From what I understood, it was proposed by Schott and Hoffman and was turned down by the city in favor of the Raiders.

  10. @ Dan I was a partial season ticket holder in the early 2000s when I lived in the area (for the As) and had very little problems getting into and out of the stadium via Bart, even on the fireworks days when there was a very full stadium. That being said it probably helped that I wasn’t in a rush.

  11. Dan, I’ve been at the Coliseum numerous times when the stadium was full, and I never had to wait “30 to 60 minutes” to crawl out of the lots. More to the point, the location is favorable for a new stadium given the multiple access point.

  12. Cut us in our your secret Dean- I refuse to drive to it because it’s horrendous getting in and out- now I agree with you that Bart is great- but Bart alone does not make it a great place to build new venues- I know when I go I won’t spend 1 minute longer than I have to in the neighborhood-

  13. So let me see if I’ve got this straight: The Coliseum property is so valuable that developing it could help offset the cost of a $500m to $1b stadium, but also so worthless that it’s not worth asking developers to pay any money for it?

  14. @Neil–the economics of whether the approximately 140 acres that are actually owned by the county/city could actually pay for said stadiums is in question—hence the Raiders shortfall of $500+M; development of housing is where you potentially would get the biggest bang for your buck but definetely not the most area for nice condo’s. So once again–city is saying we will give you development rights but you have to use your profits to build us 1 or 2 stadiums and btw we also expect that you will pay us for the land…and oh btw did we tell you that we still owe nearly $200M on the facilities you will be tearing down…anyway you could cover that also….not alot of developers rushing in for this deal

  15. Right, I can see why a developer wouldn’t want to build condos and then hand over any profits to the A’s or Raiders to help pay for their stadium costs. But if condos would generate any profits at all, then giving the land to Wolff at below-market rate would be a subsidy.

    There’s a bigger question here, of course, of whether it’s *ever* the best use of land to put a stadium on it. There might be to Wolff, since he needs to have his team relatively close to where people live/work in order to sell tickets (the Raiders, who only play on Sundays, could probably put a stadium next to any major highway and be fine), but if so, there’s no reason to give it to him for less than a non-stadium-developer would pay for it.

    This would all be way easier to debate if somebody would estimate a value on the land, needless to say. Maybe Oakland could borrow Anaheim’s appraisers?


  16. we agree on that—if the land is highly desirable (which I question) then if I was Oakland I would focus on shoring up their challenging economic environment rather than divert $1B or so to stadium construction. But—if Oakland wants to hosts professional teams than this is what is required as you can’t try to pull off a model like the ‘9ers did in Silicon Valley–

  17. No secrets, SanJoseA’s, simply common sense. Sometimes I park in the lot, sometimes I park across the street on 66th, sometimes I park in or around the BART parking lot. Just depends on if I’m arriving early or late. But I have several choices most other venues can’t offer. I’ve taken BART, Amtrak, buses and my own car over the past 40 years.

    Try going to Dodger Stadium. Or, better yet, don’t. Getting into and out of Dodger Stadium is a “30 – 60 minute crawl” even when the stadium is half full.

  18. Dean, see I’ve had the opposite experience getting into our out of Dodger the last time I went. Took 10 minutes to get out after the game, and only about 10 to get in. Could be that I show up earlier and stay later than most Dodger fans since the stereotype that they all leave early is most definitely a deserved one.

  19. Looks like we have a deal.


  20. That’s good to know, Dan. A client of mine is the Dodgers team physician. He’s invited me to a few games this year but I have been reluctant. Thanks for sharing your experience…I will feel better taking my client up on his offer.

  21. Dean, do be aware however that I’m rating that time in and out as freeway to parking and vice versa. Getting to the exit in LA is a whole different pain in the ass. But that’s not the Dodgers fault so much as a function of being near downtown LA on the whole and having to deal with the vintage 1950’s freeways that still criss cross that particular part of the south land. That said access to Dodger is still far inferior to Anaheim which isn’t bad at all, and when you consider it is in LA, it’s downright good as far as access goes.

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