by Steve Tavares, East Bay Citizen
The Athletics and Raiders have a home in Oakland, at least, for the next few years. The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority approved a two-year lease Monday for the Athletics, along with a one-year extension of its current deal with the Raiders. Both teams are seeking new stadiums, if not in Oakland, but somewhere in the Bay Area.
The short-term lease agreements were also described as short-term successes for keeping the teams in Oakland. Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, also the chair of the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority, said primarily of the Raiders deal, “It’s progress. But we haven’t finished the ballgame, but we scored two points.”
Of the three teams eyeing an exodus from the Coliseum, the Raiders have long been viewed as the most amendable to working with the JPA. Upon voting for the lease extension, Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty applauded Raiders owner Mark Davis for his cooperation. “We have a partner who wants to work with us and I find that definitely refreshing,” said Haggerty.
The Raiders are seeking to be the main tenants at the same location, dubbed as Coliseum City. The A’s have had their sight on a new ballpark in San Jose for years, yet two potential sites in Oakland remain a possibility–one at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square and another at the current location.
Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, one of the city’s representatives on the JPA, said East Bay sports fans should view Monday’s vote as a positive step toward Oakland keeping two of its professional sports franchises. “We can tell the fans we have finished our short-term goals and now we can move toward resolving the long-term issue of building facilities,” said Kaplan following Monday’s JPA meeting at Oracle Arena. “Oakland is a sports town – and this is good news for the teams, the fans and the city alike.”
However, many of the Coliseum Authority board members were far less than enthusiastic about the terms of the deals, especially with the Athletics. Kaplan for instance, called it “not a horrible deal.” Haggerty added, “This falls short of what I would have hoped we winded up with,” but he says he supports it with the fans in mind. “They put up with a lot, but they continue to support a very good team.” Coliseum Authority board member Aaron Goodwin registered the only no vote against either deal. In an interview, Goodwin declined to say the agreements were bad, but he also noted his colleagues consistently voiced tepid support for the agreements. “I don’t vote for bad deals,” he told EBC.
Pressure from Major League Baseball on the JPA earlier this month to finalize a lease deal or risk the possibility of the team playing at San Francisco’s AT&T Park was a determining factor in negotiations, said Miley, “It’s not ideal, but it’s progress.” Miley and Kaplan both added, the new lease might even ingratiate the city and county with MLB as it fights to keep the team in Oakland, despite very public overtures to San Jose. A blue ribbon committee created by MLB to study the San Francisco Giants exclusive rights to the Santa Clara market has almost comically yielded few reports since its founding in 2009.
Under terms of the Raiders lease extension agreement, which still must be approved by the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the Raiders will play at O.co Coliseum through the end of the 2014-15 football season and pay $400,000, plus half of concessions and stadium club dues. The JPA also agrees to allow the team to play a home game next season in London. Tailgating may get even more expensive, too, with allowances for the Raiders to charge up to $35 for parking. The lease also gives ownership the option of continuing to rent its practice facility in Alameda past the life of the lease at a fair market rate capped at $525,000 annually.
The Athletics lease runs from Dec. 31, 2015 and will pay the JPA $1.75 million annually. The deal also allows the team to control concession providers at the Coliseum complex and one interesting clause. The new deal prohibits the Athletics from making “unfactual statements” about the Coliseum, said the JPA’s Interim Executive Director Deena McClain. During the past baseball season, Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff mad several disparaging comments about the stadium’s plumbing and overall condition following incidents of flooding in the players’ locker room and dugout. AEG, the operator of the Coliseum, said the accidents had nothing to do with the state of the facility’s plumbing, but occurred after towels were flushed down toilets in restricted areas.
Cross posted from East Bay Citizen