MLB commish says his “preference” is keeping A’s in Oakland, decide for yourself what that means

MLB Rob Manfred gave one of his patented mumble-mouthed comments about the Oakland A’s stadium situation yesterday:

I want the A’s to stay in Oakland. It’s a very fundamental policy of baseball. We favor franchise stability. I think it is possible to get a stadium done in Oakland, and that remains my preference.

That could be a statement of commitment to building a stadium in Oakland, or it could be a veiled threat (he said Oakland is his “preference,” so that implies a Plan B, right, people?), or more likely, it could be a way of just ducking a question asked by the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin.

The question was actually about whether MLB would consider moving the team to San Jose now that that city’s lawsuit has crashed and burned, but there’s never been any evidence that MLB was going to force the San Francisco Giants owners to name a price for allowing the A’s to go to San Jose (deemed Giants territory, and no, I really don’t want to get into the historical reasons why, thanks), and so, yeah, no surprise here. There will likely be stronger (if not necessarily clearer) words from Manfred eventually, but if so they’ll be prompted by whatever A’s owner Lew Wolff decided to push for, not what a newspaper writer decides should be news.

Supreme Court leaves San Jose antitrust suit off calendar, A’s really not moving anywhere anytime soon

Judging from some of the reader comments back when I reported on San Jose’s antitrust lawsuit over not allowing the Oakland A’s to move there getting rejected by an appeals court last January, some people were still holding out hope that the Supreme Court would tell MLB where to stick its territorial rights rules. Y’all can stop hoping now:

The Supreme Court of the United States returned from its summer recess to grant appeals on the approximately 2,000 petitions submitted to it over the break, but took no action today on City of San Jose vs. Major League Baseball, a strong indicator that it will allow the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to stand.

The Supreme Court could still try to sneak the San Jose case in with a late acceptance, or ask the Solicitor General for an opinion on whether to hear the case, but neither of those is very likely. MLB’s antitrust exemption may be one of the Supreme Court’s stupidest rulings ever, but like the ruling that corporations are people, at this point it’s so well established that it’s going to take something far more cataclysmic than the fate of the A’s to get the courts to even think about overturning it.
Meanwhile, A’s owner Lew Wolff publicly gave up on San Jose months ago, so this isn’t likely to change his leverage much in seeking a new stadium in Oakland. Not that we’ve heard much about that lately, but presumably he’s just hoping that Mark Davis takes the Raiders to Southern California and gets out of his way in the battle for Oakland Coliseum land. Hey, maybe he’ll bring the team with him the next time he goes to get his hair cut.

A’s owner now says MLB wouldn’t actually help pay for new stadium, world makes sense again

So that San Jose Mercury News report that Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff said MLB would help him fund a new stadium? Now the San Francisco Chronicle says Wolff says it’s not so:

Just this week, Wolff let it be known that new Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was fully behind the A’s effort. However, he dismissed reports that MLB would kick in some money to get it done in Oakland.

“Dismissed reports”? But the reports came from you, according to the Merc News? Why … oh, never mind.

Meanwhile, Wolff is continuing to explore parts of the Oakland Coliseum site where a new stadium could be built while the A’s play in the old one. As for the Raiders, their execs continue to talk with the city of Oakland and Alameda County, though county officials would rather just the city buy them out of the Coliseum entirely so they don’t have to deal with it. The general assumption seems to be that the A’s are closer to a deal than the Raiders are, but that could just be social media getting ahead of itself; anyway, it’s always better to wait until we see actual funding plans, not just site preferences, before declaring anything set in even wet concrete.

Wolff says MLB would help pay for Oakland stadium if public unwilling, film of sky falling at 11

The San Jose Mercury News dropped a weird little bombshell into its report on the Oakland A’s trade deadline moves:

A’s owner [Lew Wolff] said Major League Baseball would likely kick in some money to help the A’s get a stadium done at the Oakland site, public money not being available.

Really? That’s not something MLB has done for any other team — aside from allowing teams to deduct stadium costs from income for purposes of revenue-sharing, which has been standard operating procedure for a while now. But if MLB actually gives in and throws additional cash the A’s way, that would be a huge departure for a league that so far has depended on the kindness of taxpayers for new construction., meanwhile, speculates that the easiest way for MLB to funnel some money to Wolff would be to allow the A’s to keep receiving revenue sharing money once they move into a new stadium. (MLB changed its revenue sharing rules a few years back to prohibit teams in big markets from getting checks, but exempted Oakland from this prohibition until a new stadium is built.) It’s certainly something that the league could do, though you have to wonder if MLB commissioner Rob Manfred would have to twist some  arms to get other owners to agree to kick in to dispense with the Coliseum. He doesn’t seem a very arm-twisty guy, but we’ll see.

A’s owner Wolff almost sorta kinda says R-word about Oakland Coliseum

Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff is interviewed in the new Athletics Magazine — man, wonder how they got that scoop, huh? — and had this to say about the team’s stadium demands:

We continue to respect the desire of the Raiders for a new football-only venue, while we of course would like to play in a new or vastly improved baseball-only venue.

That’s tantalizingly close to saying he’d consider a renovated Oakland Coliseum, though he doesn’t actually say the word “renovated.” But you don’t say “or vastly improved” to your own house organ if you don’t want to at least leave a door open.

What could possibly be done to the Coliseum to improve it? proprietor Marine Layer has some ideas, including either tearing down the Mount Davis seats installed for the Raiders or incorporating them into a new seating bowl. (I think ML has neglected the setting sun being in batters’ eyes in that plan, but maybe the geography isn’t quite what I think it is.) I’ve previously noted that I’m an unabashed fan of the Coliseum, particularly if Mount Davis were removed, so it’d be interesting to see what, if anything, Wolff has in mind here. Mayor Libby Schaaf, can you ask him next time you see him and report back? Thanks, we’d all appreciate it.

Newspaper calls Raiders stadium plan “worst ever” because NFL’s paid stadium consultant says so

Matthew Artz of the San Jose Mercury News revealed some of the details of Floyd Kephart’s Oakland Raiders officially secret stadium plan on Saturday (full plan is here), and immediately turned to stadium experts to evaluate how good a deal it is. Well, one stadium expert. Actually, Marc Ganis, a paid consultant for the NFL who immediately declared Kephart’s plan to be “the worst stadium proposal I’ve seen … by far” — because the Raiders owners wouldn’t get many public subsidies:

The proposed $900 million, 55,000-seat facility adjacent to the Coliseum would be financed entirely by the Raiders, the NFL and future stadium revenues. The Raiders would have to dip into sponsorship revenue and naming rights fees to help repay $300 million in loans needed to offset an estimated funding gap.

And, other than parking garages, the stadium would get no subsidy from the surrounding “live-work-play” technology campus Kephart plans to build on the rest of the sprawling Coliseum complex. The plan includes 4,000 homes, a shopping center, 400 hotel rooms and several office buildings.

“I can’t think of any sports team owner that would take a proposal like this even remotely seriously,” Ganis said, noting that San Diego has proposed a major public subsidy for a new Chargers football stadium. “It’s so one-sided and so bad, that it’s almost as if local leaders are saying ‘we can’t really do anything, so go ahead and leave.’ “

Finally, toward the end of the article, Artz gets around to explaining the Kephart proposal, which is this:

  • The Raiders would pay for a $900 million stadium via $200 million from personal seat license sales, $200 million in NFL G-4 funding, $100 million in cash, $300 million borrowed (from somewhere, paid back somehow, possibly from naming rights and other revenues), and $100 million from the sale of 20% of the team to Kephart for $200 million.
  • Kephart would buy 90 acres of the Coliseum site from the city and county for $116 million, then develop it into apartments, shopping, a hotel, and office buildings.
  • The city and county would spend about $80 million of that on new parking garages, while paying off $100 million in remaining Coliseum debt from … somewhere.
  • $100 million in infrastructure improvements would come from “grants.”
  • The A’s would have space (somewhere) reserved to build a new stadium until 2019.

Admittedly, that’s a pretty bad deal for the Raiders, though not an awful lot worse than the team’s one in Carson, which would likewise require the team to pay for the stadium with its own revenues. (The upside of Carson would mostly be that things like naming rights should bring in somewhat more money in the larger L.A. market.) It would also potentially be a bad deal for Oakland, which would sell 90 acres of land for only a little over $1 million an acre, which notes is “ridiculously cheap” given how much other nearby parcels have gone for. In fact, the only clear beneficiary of Kephart’s plan would be, let’s see, who would end up with all the proceeds from development on land that he got a dirt-cheap price … oh, right, Kephart!

The real question here is why Oakland and Alameda County thought that a private developer could somehow come up with a way to turn a project with more than $1 billion in costs and nowhere near that much in potential new revenues into a win-win for all concerned, via elfin magic or something. Mayor Libby Schaaf’s whole “have the Raiders and A’s submit bids for the Coliseum site and take whichever one is more” plan is looking better and better.

MLB commissioner: A’s owner wants new stadium on Coliseum site, so we want that too

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred visited Oakland on Friday, grinning terrifyingly and otherwise doing his job of backing up A’s owner Lew Wolff’s company line. Check it out:

“My information is that it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to have two facilities on the current Coliseum site,” Manfred said, indicating that a successful Raiders project could preclude the construction of an adjacent baseball stadium.

Despite that, the league is not pushing the A’s to consider alternate locations. Stadiums are a “peculiarly local” issue, and the league leaves decisions involving them to individual clubs, Manfred said.

“The A’s folks have been pretty clear that they believe the Coliseum site is the best site for a baseball stadium in Oakland,” Manfred said.

All of that’s true enough: While there’s plenty of room for both an A’s stadium and a Raiders stadium, there wouldn’t be much land left over for parking and residential development, and that’s the only way this plan has any hopes of paying for itself. (As much as Wolff hates the Oakland Coliseum, a new stadium wouldn’t actually bring in so much more money that it would justify its construction cost.) And Wolff indeed is focused on the Coliseum site, as are the Raiders, because this is fundamentally a battle to the death for who’s going to get development rights to the site.

So mostly what you have here is Manfred saying to Oakland, “Hey, get those Raiders offa the A’s lawn.” Which might actually work, given that the Raiders stadium plan is going nowhere fast and the team has a possible stadium plan in L.A. (or, the Rams move to L.A. instead, possibly the option of moving to St. Louis). But make no mistake: Manfred’s statements were about leverage, not information.

A’s owner says fighting to move to San Jose “not worth nasty battle” with Giants

You’d think this would make bigger headlines, but Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff has apparently admitted he’s all but given up on moving to San Jose:

Oakland A’s owner Lew Wolff said a possible move to San Jose is “not worth a nasty battle” over territorial rights with the San Francisco Giants, and is hopeful the city’s new mayor can help them get a new stadium built in Oakland.

Wolff sounded open to staying in Oakland in an exclusive interview with KPIX 5’s Phil Matier.

“Every article I read says I can’t wait to move to San Jose, and that’s not true,” Wolff said.

This has been more or less a fait accompli for a while, but still it’s interesting to see Wolff openly talking up Oakland and talking down San Jose. Of course, this could also be mostly a ploy to prove to Oakland officials that he loves them more than the Raiders do, but still.

Chargers, Raiders, Rams still working on stadiums everywhere, still anybody’s guess who ends up where

What’s going on the past few days in the NFL-to-Los-Angeles competition, you ask? (Strange thing to ask first thing on a Monday morning, but hey, who am I to judge?) Man, what isn’t going on?

  • The proposed Carson stadium for the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders has gathered enough signatures to get on the ballot, which means it’s also gathered enough signatures for the Carson city council to just pass it without it ever getting to the ballot. No word yet from the council on what its plans are.
  • St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is set to bring “schematic plans for the world’s most interactive and integrated football stadium” in Inglewood to the NFL owners meetings this week, which include a clear plastic roof that covers not just the stadium but a performance space and plaza next door. (I can’t figure out how to link directly to the L.A. Times’ slideshow, but click through here and scroll down for your vaportecture fix.)
  • L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, standing in the back and waving his arms wildly for attention, says he still wants to build a stadium next to the L.A. Convention Center, even if nobody else does: “We have a good stadium deal downtown if anybody wants to take us up on it.”
  • The chair of the advisory group tasked with figuring out how to build a new Chargers stadium in San Diego says it will cost between $700 million and $1.5 billion and “rely on a mix of revenue streams,” as reported by San Diego TV station XETV. That sure narrows it down.
  • The Oakland city council voted to add Alameda County to its negotiations over the going-nowhere-fast Coliseum City project, then the council president promptly put it in terms of the creepiest metaphor ever: “Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney said the agreement with [Coliseum City’s Floyd] Kephart was in its early stages — like a new relationship. At this point there hasn’t even been a first kiss, McElhaney said. The city and county coming together is a crucial step, she said, like two parents supporting a child. ‘We’ve been separated for awhile, but we agree the baby is valuable,’ she said.” Cue the obvious sound clip.

In other words, still nobody knows nothing, but everyone is working really hard at everything that doesn’t involve actual money being raised or approvals being gotten. Tune in next week for more non-news!

MLB commissioner says A’s stadium situation “does need to get handled,” terrifying no one

Two months into the job, and new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred still lacks his predecessor’s penchant for issuing broad ultimatums to scare cities into submission on stadium issues. Here’s Manfred yesterday on the Oakland A’s stadium situation:

“When I think about the five longer term issues that I feel need to be resolved, the stadium situation for the A’s is right at the top of that list,” Manfred said Monday. “It’s one that does need to get handled.”

You call that a threat? Now this is a threat.

Manfred also said he’s going to be investigating the A’s stadium situation himself, rather than appointing blue ribbon commissions that never actually issue reports. So maybe he’s approaching this that his job as commissioner is to try to come up with a stadium solution that works for all parties, and not just to wave threat sticks around in order to increase team owners’ leverage. Poor, deluded Rob Manfred.