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).