The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority is set to meet today to discuss a lease extension for the Raiders, which should go relatively smoothly, given that Raiders owner Mark Davis has no other options for where to play in 2016 and the authority doesn’t seem inclined to tell him, “Sign a 30-year renewal or else go play in the street.”
Not likely to go as smoothly is talks over a new stadium in Oakland, since as the San Jose Mercury News reports, even using proceeds from development rights to the Coliseum property isn’t likely to bring in enough money to fill the gap between what Davis is willing to spend and what a stadium is likely to cost:
If the city and BART did assemble the land, real estate experts estimated development rights being worth anywhere from $20 million for office buildings to $50 million for housing...
The amount of available land will depend in part on whether the A’s build a new ballpark at the site and whether Oracle Arena is torn down if the Warriors leave for San Francisco, Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio said. “I think development rights are a medium piece of the puzzle based on the developer and how patient their capital is.”
That’s all interesting, considering that there’s been a ton of speculation about how much the Coliseum property would be worth, given that the East Bay is a white-hot housing market, but the stadium site isn’t exactly in a prime location. (It’s near transit, but kind of a dump. Not that that stops developers in Brooklyn.)
What’s left out of the article, though, is any recognition that whatever the development rights are worth, it’s not free money — this is cash that Oakland could use for other purposes than a stadium, if it wanted to tell the Raiders (and the A’s, presumably) to get lost. Not that that’s necessarily the best option — $50 million in development rights is, sadly, a pretty small price to pay for keeping your sports franchise, as these things go — but it is an option.
So, whatever the development rights are worth, that’s an asset that belongs to the city and county, and if given to Davis, is a loss of future public revenues. If the land is worth more, in other words, that’s not a solution to a problem — it’s just an indication that if Oakland wants to increase its subsidies to the Raiders, it can do so by selling land instead of selling, I guess, blood. It’s a subtle distinction, but an important one.