12 April 2006

Oakland bites on the extension

In what can be construed as the only positive news to come out City Hall re: the A's in some time, Oakland officials and the Coliseum Authority agreed to a three-year extension for the A's. The extension could potentially keep the A's in the Coliseum through 2013. The structure of the deal is such that the pre-existing deal, which was guaranteed through 2007 and had one-year options through 2010, now guarantees the A's stay through 2010 and push the options out to 2011-2013. Some of the finer points:
  • The lease allows the team to leave with 120 days notice without penalty if it moves to a 40,000-or-more capacity stadium in Alameda County.
  • Should the team leave the area, it would have to pay the remainder of its lease and a $250,000 penalty.
  • Whether the 2011-2013 years are optional or guaranteed has not yet been finalized.
  • The payments will be higher than in the pre-existing lease, totalling $4.7 million over the last five years. The A's payment for 2006 is only $500K.
On the surface this sounds like a nice reciprocal goodwill gesture, but as I wrote earlier on this matter, simply pushing the options out three more years mostly benefits the A's since they get a nice safety in case a new ballpark is beset with delays. I suppose it makes City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente look better during an election year, and he certainly needs the help.

Taking off my cynical cap, it's possible that once the election's over, Oakland pols can get to work on a good Oakland site. Council member/mayoral candidate Nancy Nadel nixed my Broadway Auto Row idea. I think it deserves a second look.

Wolff confronts rumor mill

A second Argus article by Chris De Benedetti has Wolff fielding questions about the seemingly endless rumor mill (yes, I'm partly responsible for this) regarding the A's intentions. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty comes to Wolff's defense:
"I don't think in any way are the A's playing us against another community," said Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents Fremont and grew up there. "The Wolffs are genuine people. They're the most sincere people I have ever met."
Wolff tried to quash the rumors as well:

"We don't have any hidden agenda," Wolff told The Daily Review last week. "Anyone who's a sports fan thinks everyone has a hidden agenda. Even if I wanted to go, I couldn't go."

Both Wolff and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, a longtime friend and former college fraternity brother of Wolff's, also have said they have no intention of challenging the Giants' territorial rights in Santa Clara County. But supporters of bringing the A's to the South Bay point out that Wolff has several real estate holdings in San Jose.

The Mulcahy-DiNapoli connection was downplayed as well, simply as longtime business associates:

... the day after meeting with Fremont leaders, television cameras showed Wolff at the A's-New York Yankees game in Oakland, sitting next to San Jose mayoral candidate Michael Mulcahy.

Mixed messages?

"There is no intention of that," Wolff said.

He said there was little significance to their visit during the game, adding that Mulcahy owns A's season tickets near Wolff's seats and the two have known each other for years. Mulcahy's cousins are John and Jason DiNapoli, who own a small interest in the A's and have partnered with Wolff in some San Jose real estate deals.

"I've been a friend and a business partner with Lew Wolff for 30 years," Mulcahy said. "He's a supporter of mine."

Finally, Wolff issues a "firm" denial:

"We really want to stay in California, in the Bay Area, in the East Bay," he said.

"I don't know how many times I have to say that."

So are you satisfied with the responses? I know one thing: when this saga has finally played out and the A's have a new home, this blog will make for some interesting - and at times painful - retrospective reading.

Props to De Benedetti for tackling the rumor mill head-on.

Confidence in Fremont

The Argus's Chris De Benedetti reports that Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz is exuding confidence regarding the city's chances of luring Fremont.
"I think we are the lead candidate for the new home of the A's,'' Diaz added. "If there's a deal to make for both the A's and the City of Fremont, then we'll find it and make that happen.''
Though little news has emerged in the last week, the article appears to further confirm Fremont's now frontrunner status. Lew Wolff even has a few words for naysayers who dislike the current lack of transportation options at the Pacific Commons site:
"Everybody is looking for the negative here,'' he said. "There are lots of issues, and we'll deal with all of them. I don't have all the answers this minute.''
There will have to be three or four distinct mass transit solutions.
  • Shuttle from the existing Fremont BART station
  • Shuttle from the planned Warm Springs BART station (if it's built)
  • ACE/Amtrak to the planned Pacific Commons station
  • Bus/shuttle from Santa Clara County
Wolff also reaffirmed the notion that he's not looking for a public subsidy.