The A’s could be the last team standing in Oakland.
The Raiders may announce a move to a new stadium in one of a number of locations, as we’ve heard of a state-of-the-art “Black Hole” at Coliseum City, Levi’s Stadium, Golden Gate Fields, Farmer's Field, Inglewood, City of Industry (LA), San Antonio, TX and Carson, CA.
The venue game in California is as thorny as it gets -- especially when it comes to accessing the briar patch of public funds and political maneuvering necessary to pull out infrastructure cash or any other level of taxpayer support.
Elected officials of Oakland and Alameda County have been playing checkers while the franchises and their respective leagues are masters of three-dimensional chess.
Less than a week after the Raiders announced they were pursuing a joint stadium proposal with the San Diego Chargers in Carson, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff said there isn’t enough land available at the Coliseum site to build a stadium and the additional development necessary for the city’s “Coliseum City” concept.
Wolff: “We are going to be 100 percent in control of our own destiny, period. We don’t need a third party involved.”
In a recent rare interview, A’s majority owner John Fisher spoke at the ribbon-cutting of Avaya Stadium, new home of his soccer squad, the San Jose Earthquakes.
“We’re doing some work to the Coliseum to try and improve it, but obviously we need a new facility for the baseball team as well.”
The Raiders’ stadium strategy calls for someone else to pay for all (or most) of a new stadium wherever it might be constructed, and whoever else may play in it. They could have flipped up their eye patch and already be playing in Levi’s Stadium without any of their own major development and construction costs. The New York Jets and Giants are piling up mountains of cash from their joint tenancy of MetLife Stadium in the very posh New York suburb of East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Warriors will be running around in their new Mission Bay Hoop Heaven as early as 2018. Golden State’s ownership check-mated the city and county before they could even begin to move their pieces into a defensive position during Jean Quan’s mayorship. The A’s used the now-famous “Do You Know the Way to San Jose" offense, but that was wiped off the chessboard by the courts up to this point.
Those that promote the argument that Oakland doesn’t have the economic firepower to support even one pro team should look at the history of fan support for three teams over decades in less than state-of-the-art venues.
Oakland is a gritty yet highly competitive city with suburbs, exurbs, and even far away counties with fans, businesses and broadcast entities that will support a coherent stay-at-home strategy for the Raiders and A’s. The desolation of China Basin turned into the Miracle of Mission Bay with AT&T Park as its nucleus. That same dream can turn into reality in and around the Oakland Coliseum site.
The A’s are waiting on the Chargers-Raiders, Rams-Raiders, or a Raiders-only stadium deal. They are waiting on city and county officials to re-engage with the Raiders to rebuild on the Coliseum site and waiting on other new ideas to come including third-party developer Floyd Kephart putting his money on the table for “Coliseum City.”
If the Raiders load up the moving van again, suddenly a new ballpark for the A’s seems a lot more workable because the city and county wouldn’t have the worry about what to do with the Raiders, how to accommodate both, pay for both and negotiate with both.
The A’s seem to be holding all the best pieces, tactical moves and overall strategy on the Coliseum venue chess board:
1) The A’s have an extremely flexible 10-year lease at the Coliseum.
2) They have the money to finance their own ballpark.
3) They have a competitive ballclub that is extremely profitable.
4) They have big project development expertise.
5) Time is on their side.
The A’s control the chess board and the next moves are up to the Raiders, the City of Oakland, Alameda County, and all those who believe Oakland can remain a vibrant sports city.