A’s owner offers Coliseum purchase offer carrot to go with Vegas move threat stick

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.

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12 comments on “A’s owner offers Coliseum purchase offer carrot to go with Vegas move threat stick

  1. Although I am not from Oakland, I have been following this story for a long time and it is time for this to come to an end one way or another. The obvious compromise is for the A’s to buy the entire Coliseum Property at a fair market value. BUT if they do that and agree to play there,they have to be allowed to build a Stadium and whatever they want, not Affordable Housing or some other Government Social Engineering Project.

    1. Why wouldn’t an affordable housing component be a reasonable ask by the city in exchange for a no-bid deal?

      1. In a compromise everyone makes a sacrifice. If the A’s are paying fair market value, building a private stadium and are giving up the Terminal, then Oakland also must be willing to give up something. It should not be one sided in favor of anyone.

    2. I guarantee that an affordable housing component is going to be required at the Coliseum site, as it should be.

  2. Who are the other bidders for the Coliseum location the council member is alluding? There is lots of vacant property around the Coliseum – Walmart abandoned its store years ago and its still vacant. It sits right across the 880 from the Coliseum. Fish or cut bait Oakland City Council!

  3. Maybe the idea was discarded early as “unworkable” and apologies if this has already been addressed here, but hasn’t a simple retrofit of the Coliseum from multipurpose stadium into a smaller baseball-only ballpark been considered? I’m aware that there are some very real problems with the Coliseum, but it seems that with all the pre-existing infrastructure, parking, freeway access, etcetera, it would make more sense to work with something that already exists than starting from scratch.

    Admittedly I’m a naif on this one because I’m simply unaware if a retrofit has bene seriously considered in Oakland, but I’m willing to listen and learn.

    1. There are structural issues with the park that would make retrofitting it tricky. The other problem is where the A’s would go whilst the Coliseum is being rebuilt, and the Giants have effectively told the A’s to pound sand. If it was a doable option, I think A’s ownership would’ve sprung for it a long time ago. The more realistic one, and which A’s fans have been agitating for, is to build a new ballpark in neighboring Oracle Arena’s parking lot now that the Warriors have moves across the Bay, and then tear down the Coliseum for parking and other development when its complete. Or, just tear down the Arena and build over there, or downsize it into a concert-only venue…you get the drift. It’d require the least amount of infrastructure and disruption. Only thing is it’s the least sexy, so it’s perpetually given short shift as a proposal.

      1. Thanks for replying. I thought there might be structural problems at the Coliseum. I can DEFINITELY envision the Giants getting in the way of any solution in Oakland, since the arrival of the A’s in 1968 throttled their golden goose. Frankly, Oakland has never been a good baseball town (going back to the Oaks of the old PCL), but Finley had to move his team somewhere after alienating every living being in KC, including the cattle in the stockyards.

        1. The Giants don’t have any territorial rights to the East Bay, just the peninsula and South Bay. That’s why the A’s went through their abortive attempt to move to Fremont a few years back – it was the closest they could go to San Jose without crossing into Giants territory.

          1. Thanks, Neil. I’d thought they did because they had the Bay Area all to themselves for ten years starting in 1958, and that maybe Horace Stoneham allowed the A’s to move to Oakland so Charlie Finley would just STFU. Charlie O could bitch and moan ad infinitum at league meetings with the best of ’em to get his way.

  4. CCCTL October 4, 2019 comment.

    Coliseum renovation is a non-starter. One of the biggest issues (other than 60-year-old concrete, having a playing field that is 23′ BELOW sea level and resting on a dirt berm foundation that is subsiding) is that the main concourse is too narrow and cramped for crowds over 25K.

    They looked at what it’d take to expand the concourse to something less congested. The answer was that doing so would require removing enough structural support that the *entire third deck* would need to go. It wasn’t built to be renovated.

    Before someone chimes in with “but Mount Davis”, it doesn’t share the same foundation and is connected to the main coliseum structure with expansion joints.

    Me …. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ ….. When in Oaktown, I secretly enjoy going to (Triple) A’s games at the Coliseum Grand ol’ lady plumbing may not work, she’s a bit long in the tooth and neighborhood is no longer up-tight lily, white suburbia (yes, know never was) but get good seats to watch a ball game. Something so wrong about sitting in left field “Premium Bleachers” at Oracle Park and being asked what vintage wine I want with my sushi!

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