Oakland still has no idea how much Coliseum City would cost, who would pay for it

Finally somebody has noticed that Oakland’s proposed Coliseum City project lacks any semblance of an idea how to pay for it: Members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, which co-owns the Oakland Coliseum site, say they’re concerned that the project — which could include new stadiums for the Raiders and A’s, as well as a massive 800-acre housing and office complex — has no commitment of money from its private partners and would cost the public an as-yet-undetermined amount. As they told SFGate:

“We don’t have all the inside information as to why Forrest City (the original developers) dropped out,” [Supervisor Nate Miley] said. The city’s investment partners, Colony Capital, “have all this money but to date have put no money on the table.”…

“This project is bigger than all of us and the I-880 corridor has great potential benefits,” [Supervisor Richard] Valle said. “I’m not going to be in favor of any public financing or gift of public funds – across the board. If it’s the economic development opportunity that people perceive, then it’s got to stand on its own legs.”…

“The county’s position is that the city can’t do it without the county – and if they … need county resources, then we also want a share in the upside from the project,” [said ... actually, SFGate left off the attribution, but presumably it was someone on the board].

How much in city and county “resources” are we talking about here? No one quite seems to know, though Miley speculated, “At the end of the day — if it’s a $2 billion project and the public share is half a billion — will there be enough revenue to offset that. Who knows?” But why quibble over a couple billion dollars in missing money when there are all these pretty pictures to — wait, is that a monorail? No wonder the Oakland city council hearing on the project went like this.



Raiders owner visits defunct Navy base for day, hopes to earn public riches as result

It must be great to own a sports team: All you have to do to make headlines is to hop a plane to another city, and then let everyone freak out that you’re planning to move your franchise. Or if you’re really lucky, you can just drive to the next town over:

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis took a tour of the old Concord Naval Weapons Station the other day – with an eye toward whether it could be just the place for a new stadium for the team.

“He made no commitments, but my feeling, he liked the looks of the property,” said Concord Mayor Dan Helix.

Yeah, of course he made no commitments: Davis is in the middle of negotiations to get Oakland to build him a new stadium on his current site, and “Don’t make me take my ball and drive across the Oakland hills with it!” is exactly the kind of threat he needs to back up his demands. (Not that Davis would ever say it that way, not when spending 90 minutes in Concord and muttering “Mm-hm” thoughtfully will get the same headlines.) And as CSN Bay Area’s Ray Ratto notes:

You gotta have leverage.

Oakland gets a potential stadium developer, now just needs to find money

Stop the presses! Oakland may have a developer for its planned “Coliseum City” stadium and entertainment complex! Or, well, has a developer maybe interested in building it, though it’s not clear that they’re interested in being the ones to pay for it:

The investment group is composed of Colony Capital LLC, which manages investments totaling $32 billion, and Rashid Al Malik, an investor who recently served as deputy CEO of a multibillion dollar aerospace firm founded by the uncle of Dubai’s ruling sheik.

Operating under the banner Bay Investment Group, LLC, Al Malik and Colony are slated to join Oakland’s master-planning team for the Coliseum complex and help fund a new stadium feasibility study.

More importantly, they also want to take the lead in redeveloping the Coliseum complex, which is surrounded by parking lots and cut off from surrounding neighborhoods and city life.

The Coliseum City idea has been kicking around for a couple of years, and would potentially include new venues for the Raiders, A’s, and Golden State Warriors, though since I don’t think anyone’s put a price tag on any of this, it’s all complete wishcasting at this point. Still, the fact that there’s at least one developer who doesn’t think this is a totally crazy idea, plus Raiders owner Mark Davis’s insistence that he only wants a new stadium if it can be in the exact same place as the old stadium, already has people speculating that this spells the death knell for the A’s in Oakland. Like, for example, Forbes “contributor” (read: unpaid blogger) Alicia Jessop:

While some may see this move as the A’s waiving the white flag and succumbing to life in Oakland, the Raiders may slowly riding in as the A’s knight in shining armor.  The shield that the Raiders hold in this case, is that team’s desire to build a new facility on the current coliseum site.

The A’s have made it clear that they have no desire to rebuild or build a new stadium on the current coliseum site.  Thus, if the Raiders’ new stadium plan is approved the possibility exists that the A’s will be left without a place to play when construction is ongoing.  Thus, if this situation arises, might MLB be more inclined to allow the team to move to San Jose?

How should I put this? “No.” Though the image of Lew Wolff calling Bud Selig (or his successor) and crying into the phone, “They’re going to put all our stuff on the curb! Puhleeeeeze tell the Giants they have to let us move now!” is pretty amusing.

Also, note that the white flag is now available to any other A.L. team on waivers. Either that or Forbes doesn’t bother to proofread its “contributors,” and surely that can’t be the case.

Raiders owner wants new stadium that’s same size as old Coliseum, on Coliseum site, just not the Coliseum

Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis gave an interview to ESPN.com’s Paul Gutierrez this weekend, in which he said, among other things, that he doesn’t intend to share the San Francisco 49ers‘ new stadium in Santa Clara, and wants to build a new stadium on the site of the Oakland Coliseum:

Oakland is absolutely where we would prefer to get something done. And it would be on that specific site. There’s definitely issues that go along with that. We’ve been meeting with the city and the county.

That “specific site” comment apparently means where the Coliseum is now, not in the parking lot. And that has some people flipping out that it would force the A’s to relocate. Oakland councilmember Larry Reid even hinted that A’s owner Lew Wolff could use this as leverage to force MLB to approve a move to San Jose: “Lew Wolff would be happy if that was the scenario that played out. He could tell Major League Baseball, ‘See, they didn’t want us. Look what they’re doing for the Raiders.’”

It’s actually pretty unlikely that Selig would care about any of this — or, really, anything other than Wolff and the San Francisco Giants owners working out a price tag for territorial rights to San Jose — but it makes for helpfully scary headlines for Wolff, if nothing else. Not addressed by anyone, seemingly, is where the heck the Raiders would play while Mount Davis was being demolished and a new stadium erected in its stead. Davis was pretty clear that sharing Santa Clara is out — “[It's] going to be red and gold, they’re going to have the Joe Montana hotel across the street” — which leaves … Candlestick Park? UC-Berkeley? Seriously, has anyone even hinted at anything about this?

And speaking of Mount Davis, the luxury-seating tower’s namesake (or son of its namesake, anyway) dropped this bomb about the 1990s remodeling of the Coliseum that produced it:

I’ve come to the conclusion that a 53,000-seat stadium, that we played in from the 60’s and all that, is basically what our market is. We’re not an 80,000-seat stadium, we’re not a 65,000-seat stadium, really, unless you’re winning every game and all that stuff. But those aren’t the hardcore fans that are there … for us the 53,000–seat stadium is good and maybe 5,000 club seats bring it up to 58,000 seats. But in all those years, I think when we moved back (to Oakland) we overbuilt the market, so to speak.

In other words: “Hey, Oakland, remember that ginormous seating tower we made you spent $200 million to build in order to get us to move back from Los Angeles, and which helped spur the A’s to demand a new stadium that wasn’t hideously ugly for baseball? Turns out we didn’t need it after all. But hey, everybody makes mistakes, right? Anyway, now we want a smaller stadium after all, so be a doll and give us $300 million to knock down this oversized one and build us one that’s just right, okay?”

Raiders still demanding stadium, deny they’ve determined how much it’ll cost

Yesterday’s report that Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis is looking to build an $800 million, 50,000-seat stadium near the site of the Coliseum was “premature and inaccurate,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle, citing both league and city sources. Which doesn’t mean the Raiders don’t want to build such a stadium, only that no formal offers have been made on either side, just preliminary studies. Which means the price tag could be more, or less, and the public’s expected $300 million share of the construction cost could be more or less, and there could be more seats or maybe just one great big huge seat that one lucky fan will get to sit in while watching the game on a stadium-sized TV, because who wants to try to watch actual football with your own eyes, that’s like impossible, right?

Anyway, everything is just rumors at this point, and very much subject to change. As is always the case, right up till the last minute.

Oakland mulling two new stadiums amid “urgency” of teams not actually threatening to leave so much

Talk about a new stadium in Oakland for either the A’s or the Raiders has been pretty quiet of late, but all that has changed in the last few days. First off, a Raiders-sponsored study is calling for an $800 million, stadium near the current Coliseum site, of which the Raiders owners would pay $300 million. Add in up to $200 million in NFL G-4 money, and that’s only a $300 million shortfall!

To its credit, the Oakland Tribune is cold-eyed about the plan, stating in its lede that “the team might not be able to cover even half the costs” of the new 50,000-seat (or maybe 56,000-seat) stadium. (Which, by the way, is yet another sign that the NFL is heading toward smaller stadiums with more TV lounges.) Less to its credit, it includes this paragraph:

There is a growing urgency in Oakland to strike a deal with the Raiders to keep the team from returning to Los Angeles, where a 75,000-seat stadium has been proposed in the nearby City of Industry.

Seriously, the City of Industry? Where the only thing anyone’s heard about NFL stadium plans in the last year or two was a rumor that the developers would be giving up on football and trying to lure the Los Angeles Angels instead? That’s “urgency”?

Even as Oakland is being pressed to pay for a Raiders stadium, meanwhile, there’s renewed talk of a possible A’s stadium at the Howard Terminal site adjacent to Jack London Square on the Oakland waterfront, thanks to an all-but-concluded lawsuit settlement that will clear out one of the port tenants. This has some people extremely excited about the prospect of keeping the A’s in Oakland, even though nobody knows how much it’ll cost, let alone who’ll pay for it.

Oakland councilmember Larry Reid says all this (or at least money for a Raiders stadium) is necessary because “this is a city that always had three major league teams and that now there is the possibility that we will have none.” That would be the A’s, Raiders, and Golden State Warriors, whose San Francisco waterfront arena plan is, um, actually maybe not happening until 2018, if at all?

Aw, hell with it. Let’s just build some stadiums because Dr. Death wants us to. Cities have done it before for sillier reasons.

Downtown L.A. stadium declared officially dead, unofficially

I’m not actually how to read this, as the official NFL position on AEG’s downtown Los Angeles stadium plan has been that they’ve hated it for a year and a half now, but: Yahoo! Sports is reporting that two “sources” (one of them a “league source”) are saying that the AEG plan is dead as far as the league is concerned, as “Unofficially, the NFL believes that the cost of the AEG plan, which the league believes will be at least $1.8 billion, will make it unworkable”:

“The numbers just don’t work, no matter how you look at the deal,” a league source said in February. “It’s either too hard for AEG to make money [and pay the debt on the stadium] or too hard for the team. I just can’t see a way for it to work.”

Again, nothing really new, except that the NFL is now sending off-the-record staffers to leak the word that really, it’s time to move on to other L.A. stadium proposals. Not to mention a decidedly on-the-record Marc Ganis, the NFL consultant who might as well be a league source, who pointedly told Yahoo!: “The focus on the sale of AEG has stalled the chance for people in the area to view potential other sites and opportunities. … If Los Angeles leaders don’t move on to look at other options it will only delay the return of the NFL to Los Angeles further, possibly even years longer.”

This might be a reasonable ploy to get L.A. moving on some other stadium possibilities — or at least vague rumors of possibilities — but it’s terrible timing for the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders, and any other NFL teams I may have left out that are currently using the “L.A. has a stadium deal ready to go!” threat to try to extract money from their current hometowns for new or renovated stadiums. I was just telling a reporter yesterday that these teams are all scrambling for stadium funds now because they have a limited window to use the L.A. threat before it either falls apart or somebody else moves there first; it looks like that window may have just begun to slide shut.


Raiders to close off top deck of seats they forced Oakland to build in ’90s

Okay, the trend toward NFL teams wanting smaller stadiums is officially a thing: The Oakland Raiders have announced that they’re going to be reducing capacity by 10,000 seats for the 2013 season, including tarping off the top deck of Mount Davis, the stadium addition that was installed for the Raiders’ return to Oakland in 1996.

This would make the Coliseum the smallest venue in the NFL, and would maybe help the team avoid the TV blackouts that have been common in recent years. But mostly, it would mean the Oakland stadium sagas’ final descent into farce: Oakland spent $200 million on building Mount Davis, tried to sell PSLs to pay off the costs then found that no one would buy them, and then saw the A’s owners vow to leave town because the renovations had ruined the stadium for baseball — mostly by blocking views of the Oakland hills, which wouldn’t be as much of an issue if they hadn’t built that towering third deck that the Raiders now say they don’t need.

I’d say this is the greatest example of multi-leveled irony I’ve seen in a while, but it still can’t quite top this.

The week in stupid, California edition

There are days when I feel like things are getting better. Days where I get calls from daily newspaper journalists asking intelligent questions about stadium financing, where elected officials actually make some substantive demands of team owners, recognizing that they, too, have leverage. Days where it seems like 17 years of writing about this crap hasn’t been entirely for naught.

And then there are days like today. First up, from an article on something called San Jose Inside, by Rich Robinson, a “political consultant in Silicon Valley”:

While the NHL lockout allegedly hurts owners and players, the real victims are businesses in or around arenas. Small businesses that cater to fans and are dependent on the league don’t have the luxury of losing over a billion dollars on principle…

These businesses are not hobbies or philanthropic endeavors. Few will retire after four years of labor. For them, hockey really does matter. And it is for this reason the lockout must end.

I appreciate that Robinson is probably a hockey fan, and so probably fed up with the comical non-negotiations that have the NHL barreling toward its second canceled season in the last nine years. (Even if the rest of us are finding it endlessly entertaining.) But we’ve covered this before, as have others: Just because people aren’t going to San Jose Sharks games doesn’t mean they’re not going out to eat or otherwise spending money. In fact, in all likelihood businesses in San Jose not near the arena are seeing at least a minor windfall of customers as local residents try to figure out what to do with all that refunded ticket money that’s burning a hole in their pockets — just like the Toronto comedy club owner who, during the MLB baseball strike, quipped, “We really feel it would be in the best interest of entertainment in Toronto if the hockey players sat out the whole season too.”

Moving on, we have the alleged journalism enterprise Bleacher Report, which today sees its AFC West Lead Writer Christopher Hansen proclaim that the Oakland Raiders really really need a new stadium because:

A new stadium does wonders for a team’s value by drastically increasing revenue. The Raiders have a revenue problem which can’t be sustained long-term. If the Raiders don’t get a new stadium soon, Mark Davis could be forced to cut back on expenses or sell the team.

Where to begin? Perhaps with the fact that yes, stadiums bring in more revenue, but they also come with additional costs, namely about a billion dollars to put one of them up. That’ll cut into your drastically increased revenue pretty fast, unless you get somebody else (i.e., taxpayers) to pay for it. As for Mark Davis having to cut corners or sell the team, according to Forbes, yes, the Raiders are one of the less-valuable teams in the NFL, but they’re still turning a profit ($23 million last year). So Davis would be selling the team … what, in a huff because he’s not making enough money? Actually, wouldn’t it be more likely that he’d sell the teamafter getting a stadium deal, since he’d be selling high? Don’t any editors at Bleacher Report actually read these things before they’re posted? (Don’t answer that.)

Meanwhile, the Bleacher Report piece links to a Bloomberg News report that notes that Oakland fired a quarter of its police force last year to save money, but still made good on the $17.3 million a year it’s obligated to pay off each year on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum that induced the Raiders to return to town. You’d think this would be a pretty good cautionary tale of why not to devote scarce city resources to a sports team that only plays 10 games a year in town, but not if you’re Raiders CEO Amy Trask:

“The 1995 deal didn’t work from a financial perspective for any party to the deal — city, county or Raiders,” says Amy Trask, chief executive officer of the Raiders. “That shouldn’t stop us from trying to reach a deal that works for everyone.”

Really, trust her, this time it’ll totally work. You don’t want anyone to think you’ve lost your ability to believe in people, do you?

Roger Goodell can get in the newspaper just by opening his mouth

From the “Newspapers will report on anything famous people say” department:

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday the league is willing to contribute funding to help build a stadium in Oakland to keep the Raiders in town…

”It’s our stage. It’s part of where we present our game. It’s the biggest part,” Goodell said. ”It’s also really important to the fan experience. Having full stadiums is critical for us. We want to have our fans in the stadium, we want to make sure they have the best facilities, we want to make sure the teams can generate enough revenue to be successful and competitive.”

Wait, you mean the NFL is actually willing to give the Raiders stadium money as part of its league-wide program to provide teams with stadium money? Stop the presses!