The Oakland city council’s lawsuit against Alameda County selling its half of the jointly-owned Oakland Coliseum property to the A’s owners instead of offering it to the city first may be kind of impulsive and not even something Oakland’s mayor wants and pointless because Oakland can’t afford to buy the county’s share anyway and to have led to MLB lobbing threats to move the team to Las Vegas, but! It also, according to the San Francisco Chronicles Phil Matier, seems to have shaken loose a new offer from the A’s owners on the property:
In an effort to break the legal logjam that’s threatening their new ballpark, the Oakland A’s are offering to either buy out the city’s half share in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site for $85 million or enter into a long-term lease, sources close to the negotiations say.
The proposed deal also includes a community benefits package and a provision that the team build a new ballpark elsewhere in town, which it’s already planning at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal.
In return, the city must drop the lawsuit it filed to block Alameda County from selling its half share of the site to the A’s.
That doesn’t seem like a terrible deal at all, or at least not a terrible starting point for negotiations. The $85 million price tag for half of 130 acres of land looks about right in terms of land value, and if A’s owner John Fisher is actually buying the land and not just development rights then presumably he’d have to pay property taxes on it, and the team would also take over paying operating costs on the Coliseum and accompanying arena and include a buyback option if the land goes undeveloped. All in exchange for dropping a lawsuit that probably isn’t going anywhere anyway.
While Mayor Libby Schaaf and councilmember Noel Gallo praised the offer, councilmember Dan Kalb still has concerns:
But Councilman Dan Kalb said he still had concerns:
“If they are not going to build a ballpark there, then why should the A’s get special consideration for the Coliseum site?” he said. “Shouldn’t they just submit proposals like everyone else after seeing what the city wants there?”
Which, sure, okay: Fisher is absolutely looking to jump the line and get to bid on developing the Coliseum before anyone else can, in exchange for building himself a new stadium at Howard Terminal and making this now decade-plus long relocation saga go away. But if it’s a fair price, and the main issue is that Fisher may not build “what the city wants there,” then ask to include some development criteria in the sale agreement, or something. And if the issue is that Kalb wants the A’s to build a stadium on the Coliseum site and not Howard Terminal — which seems to be what he’s saying — then just negotiate that directly, rather than engaging in some weird proxy war over who gets to buy the Coliseum land.
Anyway, there’s room for talks here, and even talks that could end up with a deal that is somewhere between not-awful and pretty-decent for the city of Oakland, which by the standards of the kind of stuff we discuss around here is cause for at least mild applause. And if city councils filing lawsuits against the mayor’s wishes proves to be what it takes to shake loose new offers from sports team owners, maybe there’s a lesson here for other municipalities: Two can play at the Madman Theory.