Oakland mayor proposes $670m worth of subsidies for Raiders stadium, won’t say where money would come from

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has a stadium offer ready for the Raiders, and it’s a doozy: The city would give Raiders owner Mark Davis free rights to the Oakland Coliseum property, as well as city-funded infrastructure upgrades, plus agree to pay off $120 million in remaining debt on the Coliseum’s last round of renovations. In exchange, Davis would build his own damn stadium.

Much of the report by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier and Ross is devoted to where Oakland would get that $120 million — leading Quan spokesperson Sean Maher (nope, not that one) to hilariously reply, “That’s a great question that we will probably not say anything about.” But the far bigger issue here could be the land and infrastructure gifts: SFGate has previously estimated the needed infrastructure costs at $150 million, and if Quan’s plan includes development rights to all 800 acres that were previously discussed, that could be a value of … let’s see, a piece of undeveloped waterfront property recently went for about $500 an acre (before remediation costs, which presumably here would be paid by the city), so let’s call it possibly $400 million, more or less?

Anyway, this is just a proposal, and one that neither Davis nor the Oakland city council has yet weighed in on. But if it’s setting the boundaries of debate, man, Oakland is looking at getting hosed. At worst, somebody should call A’s owner Lew Wolff to see if he’d be willing to beat that bid for the land — he has to have a Sacagawea to spare, no?

18 comments on “Oakland mayor proposes $670m worth of subsidies for Raiders stadium, won’t say where money would come from

  1. Prediction: “That’s a great question that we will probably not say anything about” will become a meme.

    Think I’ll try it with my boss. Great idea, I think.

  2. What’s interesting is the CITY is planning to give the land away, but did they bother to ask the county? If we learned anything during the A’s lease debacle its that the city and county don’t see eye to eye on anything with regard to the Coliseum. And so far the county seems far more inclined to work with the A’s than the Raiders, unlike the city who seem ready to bend over for the Raiders whenever they can.

  3. Dan: Yeah, I should have noted that the Coliseum Authority hasn’t weighed in on this either. It’s a puzzling one, even as election-year PR fodder.

  4. Neil, I have slightly different figures for costs.

    Infrastructure – $344-425 million (from Spring cost analysis)
    Outstanding debt – $120 million (stadium alone, arena is an extra $60-80 million)

    Oakland and other public agencies control 535 acres of the 800 project acres. 265 acres are privately owned. At $2 million an acre that’s $530 million, not including whatever the cost is for land swaps among the public agencies. All told that’s $1.1 Billion to start.

  5. Neil,
    “recently went for about $500 an acre” should read “recently went for about $500,000 an acre”, right?

  6. The ironic part of this is that I think it reduces Mayor Quan’s chances at winning. That quote is classic. I think it’s time for signs and tee-shirts with that quote. Look at the various comment threads on media outlets that are using that quote.

    I don’t think this is what is meant by “campaign boost.”

  7. Scott: Right — sorry, I can do math but I can’t type…

    ML: I’d forgotten that part of the land is privately held. But $2m/acre seems high when Jack London Square land is going for one-quarter that, no?

    I think it’s clear that the total cost of Quan’s plan would be “a hell of a lot.” I had to put a number on it for a headline, but if you told me anything with eight zeroes on it, I’d say it’s a fair guess.

  8. Here’s ML’s calculation of $1.1b in subsidies, btw, since he’s too shy to link to it himself:


  9. Is this a joke? How can you come out and actually propose something with these types of costs by a Mayor of a city that has many many issues. SMH.

    Well I guess she knows the people who elected her don’t actually care about the numbers.

    So is the middle eastern prince going to come back into the picture and pay for all this? ;)

  10. She can propose it because her chief opponent in the mayor election just came out and very publicly took credit for “saving” the A’s in Oakland. This is classic Quan. Over the top grandstanding with a proposal that any sane person knows has no chance in hell of happening.

    I mean those number we’re discussing above are at minimum $500 million in public funding (if not up to $1 billion as ML suggests) and that’s JUST for the infrastructure and existing debt service. No one has addressed the fact the Raiders are still between $500 million and $900 million short on funding for their new stadium after their own contribution. All told the public could be on the line for at best 1 billion dollars total, at worst just shy of 2 billion. All to keep a perennial loser team in town that’s already proven so loyal to Oakland they’ve threatened to leave multiple times and have actually bolted once already.

    And worse yet they’re doing so at the obvious expense of their other pro team which actually has a good civic reputation (unlike the Raiders) and who have at worst proposed actually helping pay down the city’s existing debt service while they build their own privately funded ballpark. Now admittedly the A’s plan is not as developed yet, but we already know for sure that the cost to the city/county would be far lower given the lower cost of a ballpark and the lesser infrastructure layout needed to support it (even if the A’s ask for such a layout as so far they’ve only really implied they’d need access to the existing Coliseum land (not any of the additional land the Raiders want between BART and the site or on the far side of I-880)).

  11. Well, 800 acres of development rights could take a nice chunk out of the Raiders’ budget hole. But yeah, this looks like a disaster even if Davis agrees to it without added demands, which is no sure thing.

  12. I’m sure it will help, but I imagine their partners will be taking a chunk of those development rights for themselves in the equation. But even if it comes down to JUST the infrastructure and debt costs I don’t see how Quan gets the voting public to sign off on a half billion dollar giveaway. Particularly when you’re talking about a hugely unpopular team in a city that has no funds to provide and a taxpayer base which is still smarting from the Raiders last screwjob. To even suggest such a public giveaway is political suicide.

  13. Presumably she was counting on the headlines all saying “Quan proposes Raiders stadium with no public money.” If so, she might have tried leaking it to someone a bit more gullible than Matier & Ross.

  14. Neil – Land costs reflect real market conditions in the East Bay and the Greater Bay Area. If you’re seeing lower figures for JLS or the Brooklyn Basin project, it’s because they were public-to-public sales. As you documented so well with DC/Navy Yard, the private market is a completely different situation.

  15. Um. When you sign a new ten year lease on a building (even a crappy 50yr old one), you do sort of expect that you’ll get to play in it…

    I get that the A’s new lease has out clauses should the coliseum “become unavailable”, but given that part of the deal sees Wolff investing money in the coliseum in lieu of rent, surely it would be appropriate to, you know, actually talk to him about the other (utterly incompatible) deal you are working on. I’ve learned a good deal about Oakland’s political landscape following this story for the last ten years, but Quan continues to find new and interesting ways to disappoint me. Like this.

    The good news is that it does appear to be a classic negotiating ploy… offer “something” that appears to have value down the road (developable land) and try to gloss over the major issues the plan has (like how to pay for the stadium itself).

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, the best thing that could happen to Oakland (after Quan’s electoral defeat) is the Raiders moving out again. They can’t sell the number of tickets they need to sell – even Davis has admitted that. The city would get much more “back” from a new deal with the A’s than they ever will from the Raiders. Maybe it’s just time to let them go and be someone else’s problem child.

  16. So it’s basically two franchises fighting over the same spot, unique now that it’s the only venue to host an NFL and MLB team.
    Meanwhile the MLB is fighting with another MLB team across the bridge over how “shared” territory should be shared.

    I get the feeling that the A’s will lose on this because
    Football > Baseball to the sports fans and
    Giants won a title last so they are North California’s TEAM until the A’s win again.

  17. The local media yesterday (TV and Radio) were reporting this deal. Non of them mentioned that the debt would be assumed by Oakland. All kept saying this deal would be “privately financed”. Making it sound as if this was a great deal for Oakland. Some reports went into some detail about what the project was about but neglected to mention the debt.

    The Giants, 49ers, and Raiders always get passes on Local Media but not the A’s.

  18. Another city lines up to give the NFL what it wants… I smell public stadium cash in the air!!! Mmmmmm.