A’s may prefer Coliseum site if it’s less likely to be underwater in a few decades

Ever since the Oakland A’s owners’ plans for a new stadium at the Laney College/Peralta Community College site were rejected by the college’s governing board, team execs have been saying it’s back to the drawing board, with that site, the Oakland Coliseum site, and Howard Terminal all still in the running. And team president Dave Kaval, who’s spearheading the stadium plans, said it again over the weekend, though he kinda sorta hinted that the Coliseum site might be the least problematic:

Team President Dave Kaval spoke in more positive terms about the Coliseum on Saturday than he has previously, and he said Howard Terminal is still getting a strong look. The team hasn’t totally given up on the Peralta/Laney College site, but with the talks over that location called off in December, the other two possibilities are clearly at the forefront.

“We have the three sites in Oakland we deem as viable,” Kaval said. “Peralta was obviously our preferred site. … We’ve kind of taken stock and we’re really spending a lot of time on the other two sites to determine their feasibility. And that includes: technically, can you build it there, especially on the waterfront?”

Kaval mentioned twice that the Howard Terminal site would have to take into account sea-level rise and transportation concerns.

Congratulations, Oakland A’s, on being the first pro sports team that I’ve noticed acknowledging that building on a waterfront might not be the smartest long-term plan when the waterfront is moving at a historically rapid pace. From what I can tell from this map, the elevation of Howard Terminal is between 3 and 7 feet, and it’s somewhat protected from storm surges by the island of Alameda and the San Francisco Bay itself, so sea-level rise probably isn’t as urgent an issue as it for, say, the Miami waterfront. (Also, the Coliseum itself is only 7 feet above sea level, so hmm.) Still, that Kaval thought to mention elevation with regard to Howard Terminal is at least a hint that the team is taking the Coliseum site seriously, which, as noted many times before here, isn’t a bad idea at all for all concerned.

We’re still a ways away from hearing about funding plans — the A’s owners say they’ll pay to build the stadium, but there’s still lease terms and land prices to be discussed — but as (almost) always, these kinds of conversations start on more reasonable terms when they take place in California. The place is almost like Canada or something!

28 comments on “A’s may prefer Coliseum site if it’s less likely to be underwater in a few decades

  1. I believe I saw the A’s payroll is lower than it was in 2004, their owner is notoriously tight-fisted and extremely wealthy as the Gap heir. I am anxiously expecting some juicy articles about this upcoming fiasco!! :)

    • Their payroll is low because

      (1) they graduated a lot of prospects last year onto the main roster replacing free agent fill-ins (Chapman for Ploufffe, Olson for Alonso, super-utilityman Pinder for pretty much everywhere but pitcher/catcher, Maxwell for Vogt, Fowler for Rajai/backup, with Baretto pushing Lowrie out when his bat is a little more ready),

      (2) they lost money last year with a payroll $60M± under the MLB median, and

      (3) the free agent choices were not exactly enticing for a team with low revenue. Alex Cobb was being pushed by pretty much everyone and with the QO he would have cost their 3rd draft pick. Draft picks are more valuable to low-revenue teams.

      BTW, John Fisher isn’t “the Gap heir” … he’s the youngest of three brothers, and the least involved in running The Gap (he tried business and wasn’t good at it). His brothers have cost the company about a third of it’s net worth over the last 10 years. He’s also not interested in being Mike Ilitch 2.0.

      • I’m asking a serious question, because I am skeptical and don’t know how to confirm or deny: Did the As really lose money last year?

        • They spent $5M less in payroll than 2016, but lost $9-10M of what they got previously in revenue sharing, _and_ they’ll lose another $9-10M a year until they don’t get any at all (they get 50% this year).

          Meanwhile, they poured a lot of money into upgrading the entire food service portion of the Coliseum (used to be one central kitchen, now every booth can cook on it’s own), added more selections (drinks as well), dropped beer prices ($10 max even on premium draft/craft beers), went on a PR blitz, untarped the 3rd deck, added monthly passes …

          … and drew 50K less than the year before.

          So, to recap, after costs considered, they paid out the same as the year before but lost $9-10M off the bat and $2M± in gate receipts and concessions.

          Revenue is cratering, revenue sharing is vanishing, and the $50M BAMtech payout was one-time only, so cannot be included as a ‘revenue stream’.

          But sure, “baseballs doing well, they must be lying”.

          And A’s 40-man payroll, with expenses and bonuses, was about $108M, per Forbes.

          • According to Forbes’ estimates, they were bringing in close to $30m a year before dropping the $12m in revenues you cite. So no, still not “losing money.”

            As for attendance, they might want to sign some actual pitchers if they want fans to show up. Or if they don’t want to lose the draft picks, then the next couple of years are going to need to be loss leaders until their young players (hopefully) turn into something. That’s how the Astros (<20k per game in 2012) did it.

          • Money you spend on upgrading your facility/services does not equal one year losses. You have to carry those cost forward quite a bit.

          • The Forbes article Neil cited also shows slow but steady growth of revenue in recent years- $216M, $208M, $202M, $187M, $173M, etc.

      • I’m with you on that, Ted. I’d like to see some confirmation that the Athletics lost money on operations last year.

        With the amount of MLB distributed revenue available to all teams, it is hard to imagine any team that far under the payroll median ($51m payroll according to Baseball Reference – some $28m behind the Rays and nearly $150m behind the Red Sox. A’s payroll was ahead of only the Padres {$49m}) actually losing money on operations. The MLB distributed payments alone would nearly cover the A’s payroll… and even with the bargain basement payroll the team still drew 1.45m – more than 200k above the Rays total home attendance.

        In 2016 the A’s spent about $55m on payroll and drew 1.52m.

        Of course, any business (sporting or otherwise) can be made to lose money if it’s chief executive charges it a large enough management fee via a non-affiliated company… Just sayin.

      • 1. If you try business and aren’t good at it, don’t buy a baseball team. He’s been a major shareholder & decision maker for 10 years. The “problem” of the Oakland A’s wasn’t just discovered by him, he’s been a part of it for more than a decade.
        2. No one wants to be Mike Ilitch 2.0 because that is Chris Ilitch and his record is PizzaPizza at running the Detroit franchises so far.

  2. As fans in 2058: If we are to stay in the Coliseum, can’t we at least get rid of Davis Island.

  3. Oy. Neil. You’re being bamboozled by fake news.

    As a reminder, fake news is facts presented in a false narrative. Fact: lots of people believe that sea levels will rise in the next few decades. False narrative: that has anything to do with the A’s stadium plans.

    The A’s have been anti-Howard Terminal from the beginning, for reasons you and the newballpark.org guy have cited for years. This is just the A’s needling Oakland’s mayor, who has to keep her acted as a auto-tuned lefty politician.

  4. If (i.e. when) the A’s end up building at the Coliseum site, we’ll look back at the past 15 years as the most embarrassing and colossal waste of time. It was always the obvious choice on so many levels.

    • Presumably they could build the field at a new stadium higher up. Or, I dunno, surround it with a giant berm.

      The flight patterns at the Oakland airport don’t go over the Coliseum site, right? That’s the only thing I can think of that would prevent them from building up instead of digging down.

      • If they build at the Coliseum, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they raised the stadium site by several feet, and eventually the whole site as it is developed. That’s what is being done for Treasure Island and east side San Francisco developments, including the Giants’ Mission Rock project.

        And none of Oakland Airport’s flight paths, even for the secondary general aviation runways, go over the Coliseum site.

  5. The Bay will definitely get a sea level control structure if the sea level rise is significant. In fact I would expect it to be one of the first places to do so.

    • The problem with the idea of ‘controlling’ sea level is that most examples of same are used to control temporary rises (unusually high tides, weather driven surges etc). When the actual median sea level rises, there really is no long term method of controlling or holding it back.

      Even the Netherlands has converted from the idea of trying to “hold back” the sea to leaving room for the sea.

      • Meh, the types of really large rises people are worried about are more a function of the thermal expansion of the ocean which will take centuries. Sea level rise from melt is likely to be not an unmanageable problem.

      • Thermal expansion does not happen in isolation, though.

        Along with the gradual rise in sea level due to TE, we will also experience (and in fact are already experiencing) significant increases in calving from both polar ice sheets. This in turn changes ocean currents and regional weather. There is a tremendous amount of evidence that sea level rise and fall has not happened as gradually or progressively as many think over the last 100,000 years. Given that the average stadium lifespan is now down to 20 years or so, it may not be impossible to factor this rise into construction plans for coastal stadia… but that’s not the same as saying the problem itself is manageable over the short to mid term (IE: until 2100).

        Or, for the GOP climate deniers who regularly read this site, “all sea level rise is caused by displacement due to the illegal and unconstitutional international ban on whaling. More whales = more ocean displacement = sea level rise. Live whales means drowned Floridians. #alternative facts #maga”

        • Very funny, John, but you know sea level rise is really all about the disappearance of pirates:


  6. My goodness, we’ve come a long way from Mr. Wolff’s decade old comments about there being “No Oakland option”, haven’t we?

  7. Completely off topic… but not a single team in MLB had an average game time of less than 3 hours in 2017 (I believe for the first time, but am not sure on that…)

    The closest was the lowest payroll team, the Padres, at 3:00 even. Clearly Manfred now has the answer to the problem of speeding up the game…

    • yes, Padres players had incentive to finish the game early so they could get to their second jobs on time.

      • Precisely… although I suspect that even players on the MLB minimum salary have housekeepers and gardeners now.

  8. If we were talking about building housing for illegal aliens, we’d have the higher taxes, financing in place and a live cam showing progress. LETS go OAKLAND! Lets GO oakland!