15 September 2006

Coliseum extension talks die

Any time it takes several months to essentially repeat a pre-existing financial arrangement, something must be amiss. And so tonight it's being reported that talks between the A's and Coliseum JPA over a three-year lease extension have broken down. This obviously sets the stage for the A's last season in Oakland to be 2010. Here are some links:
This puts the A's in a little bit of a bind. Wolff admitted in the Aguirre interview (worthwhile read - Wolff explains the funding mechanism) that it would take at least a year for environmental and other studies to be completed. That's an indicator that the previous EIR's for the original Pacific Commons wouldn't simply be accepted with addenda or other changes that reflected the modified scope of the project. Assuming everything went smoothly from this point forward, it's possible construction could start either in the spring or summer of 2007, but any number of things could delay the project. 48 months is plenty of time to build a ballpark - especially are smaller-than-MLB-normal park. The A's will be helped by the fact that there's no demolition involved.

Should the delay push the groundbreaking out, the team could still get started by the end of the 2007 season without significant impact. If it goes beyond the end of the 2008 season, the A's would be faced with a number of options, none of which are terribly palatable:
  • Ask for a short-term extension of the Coliseum lease for 3 months or so. They'll likely pay through the nose for such an option, and it's possible that it wouldn't even be on the table if the JPA and the Raiders are already talking about a Coliseum renovation that makes the bowl even more of a football-specific venue (don't expect the Raiders to bolt for LA). Precedent: the Seattle Mariners used the Kingdome for the first part of the 1999 season when delays pushed the opening of Safeco Field until July 15.
  • Use Raley Field as a temporary home for the first half of the season. This would be similar to the how the A's were forced to play at Las Vegas' Cashman Field for the first few weeks of the 1996 season. At least the facilities at Raley are in significantly better shape than utilitarian Cashman. Raley could conceivably be expanded by some 5-10,000 seats, but that would have to be negotiated since the A's-River Cats deal ends in 2010. Impact to the River Cats' schedule is unknown.
  • Ask the Giants to use SBC Park temporarily. While there is precedent to crosstown rivals using each others' parks (Precedent: the Yanks used the Mets' Shea Stadium in 1975-76 while the House that Ruth Built was getting modernized), don't count on it happening.
My guess is that the greatest opposition will come from environmental and land use advocates, as well as Fremont residents who either don't want a large project like a ballpark in town and/or don't support any potential subsidies for the A's - regardless of what shape those subsidies take. There promises to be an outcry from the stay-in-Oakland crowd, but it remains to be seen exactly strong it will stay or how it will evolve over the next year or so.

One other thing - Lew put a price tag on the stadium without land: $400 million (thanks James).


jrbh said...

As far as I can tell, this amounts to Wolff blaming the Coliseum for not making it easier for the A's to leave Oakland. The fact that he'd burn some bridges the way he did it is an ominous sign indeed.

Wolff is turning into a Bob Short or a George Shinn.

Georob said...

That makes no sense. Wolff gains nothing by playing "look at what Oakland made me do by being so mean". If anything, he WANTS to stay in the Coliseum before moving because going anywhere else temporarily will be a big distraction that will probably cost the A's plenty.

My guess is that Oakland played the only card they have left and that was to say "no more extensions". They're betting that Fremont has more problems than we're being led to believe and who can blame them? And by Wolff publicly closing the door on San Jose(for the time being), he may have backed the A's into a corner.

Therefore, Wolff plays the one card HE has left and that is to announce a definite departure date from the Coliseum no matter what.

The only scenario where I see 2010 being the A's last season at the Coliseum is if the JPA is truly serious about upgrading it as football-only and doesn't want to waste any more time.

It's all posturing. Whether the A's build a stadium in Oakland, Fremont, or San Jose(quit jumping up and down, Tony!) the A's will stay at the Coliseum as long as they need to.

As for you JRBH, NOW would have been a much better time to cancel your season tickets, as Wolff has truly launched a "shot across the bow" at Oakland.

anthony dominguez said...

Assuming that 2010 is the last year for the A's at the Coliseum, I wouldn't expect them to play (and pay $$$) at AT&T Park UNLESS it was part of a resurrected San Jose deal (thanks Rob!). Imagine Wolff and Co. forking over boat loads of cash to Magowan to use AT&T (after he/The Giants kept them out of San Jose proper)...IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN! If Cisco Park at Pac Commons isn't quite ready for opening day 2011...SEE YOU ALL IN W. SAC!!

Jeff said...

Everyone has stated some very interesting opinions. However, the obvious seems to have been overlooked. Maybe Wolfe is confident he no longer needs the Coli after 2010.

TRM said...

The JPA represents the City of Oakland and Alameda County. They know Wolff wants nothing to do with Oakland. I think the JPA is taking a very sensible position. I think they will provide Wolff his lease when he provides a deal for a new stadium site within Alameda County.

jrbh said...

I'm thinking that cancelling season tickets on Sept. 17 wouldn't be much of a strategy. :)

I do feel vindicated in general, though; my sense of Wolff as a bad custodian of the ballclub and his community and a selfish and not entirely honest player has been born out. In spades.

Anonymous said...

Repeat after me....."30 miles say, within the same COUNTY does not equal a move across the country"

You and LIL go and have a nice soothing cup of Tea (it beats the Kool-Aide you OAFCers are trying to serve).

Anonymous said...

Wolff is not afraid to move the team out of the Bay Area. He clearly sees no reason to stay with the band-aid at the Coliseum. The JPA has had the good sense to all his bluff. If Wolff can't get something done and underway VERY soon in Fremont then he'll entertain offers elsewhere.

See: Portland, OR

This is a serious bunch. They have funding from the state. A serious team with a serious owner will get it done.

Marine Layer said...

Problem: the Portland public funding proposal siphons revenues away from the team. While it's nice that it doesn't burden the populace with additional general taxes, the revenue sources hit the team negatively in two ways: by taking money out of the revenue streams (ticket and concessions fees) and by taxing the players and personnel.

So if you're Billy Beane, who happens to be part-owner and GM, you're hit triple hard. Ticket and concessions fees mean less money for payroll. Payroll tax hits Beane directly since he works for the team. And that same payroll tax can't be good for potential free agents, whose agents would see that tax as eating into their salaries.

If the Portland group can come up with a large swath of land that can accommodate the Wolff private financing plan, they may have something. But why do that when Wolff has a plan in place in Fremont, and all the connections that come with working in the South Bay for several decades?

anthony dominguez said...

Ditto your 7:59 reply Rhamesis. If I may add...
"Wolff is not afraid to move the team out of the Bay Area"...What about John "SF" Fisher, San Jose's Familia DiNapoli, Mr. Beane, and Steve "Santa Clara" Schott? Again, to many people are getting caught up on what Wolff wants. Who knows, maybe the other "owners" haven't closed the door on San Jose proper yet (Rob?). In short, Portlands out of the question and the A's will stay put in the Bay!

Anonymous said...

..because the best made plans

particularly when we're discussing major public-private partnerships in the Bay Area. Wolff has a Plan B, for sure.

Marine Layer said...

Plan B isn't necessarily Portland. Or Vegas. Or anywhere else outside the Bay Area for that matter. As I understand it representatives from various cities have been in touch with Wolff, but he's set the terms of the discussions. If someone comes up with a completely publicly subsidized ballpark it'll be a compelling choice, but none of those come without strings attached. And by eschewing a public vote, Wolff has been clear on what he thinks about that type of string.

Anonymous said...

Public-funded ballpark in the Bay Area? Not going to happen.