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July 22, 2014

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Blame game won’t bring Oakland a new stadium

The Oakland A's rejected the City of Oakland's 10-year lease deal for the Coliseum late Tuesday night. (Ali Thanawalla/SFBay)
The Oakland A's rejected the City of Oakland's 10-year lease deal for the Coliseum late Tuesday night. (Ali Thanawalla/SFBay)
Source   SFBay

O.CO COLISEUM — The A’s and Raiders have shared a relic known by several names, located in an area with one of the highest crime rates in the world, for almost 20 years.

Known for impromptu sewage floods and lacking aesthetics and character, whatever name it goes by, it’s falling apart.

Late Tuesday evening, the A’s announced that they turned down Oakland’s 10-year lease offer. Their official statement went like this:

“The A’s received the Oakland-Alameda County Authority’s proposal earlier this afternoon.  While the proposal was for 10 years, it did not address all of our issues.  Consequently, we cannot accept the terms of the offer.”

The statement added:

“We have tried to negotiate in good faith for the past several months.  As the Authority knows, it is still our preference not to negotiate this agreement through the media.”

Odd, the last part. It’s not even odd that it was sent directly to the media. What’s odd is that just minutes before they released that statement, they released another, which included the following:

“With the Warriors leaving and the Raiders looking elsewhere, the A’s are the only tenant who wants a long term agreement to stay.”

This comes with the Oakland city government pushing more and more resources into keeping the two teams in town.

That’s pretty snarky talk, and coming from an organization that could have just agreed to help foot the bill of Mayor Jean Quan’s Coliseum City project.

As large and expensive — some estimates have the total cost around $2 billion — as the project may be, it’s the only proposition currently on the table that would keep both teams in Oakland. And that might not last long.

Still, blame will be thrown about like rings to a bottle at the county fair. Especially from fans, radio pundits who need to fill four or more hours of airtime, and then there’s the bloggers.

Most of the blame is unreasonable, and there’s hardly any examination of facts, solutions, nor much out-of-the-box thinking. So, shall we begin?

First, a thorough look at the blame game and what’s really reasonable:

“The San Francisco Giants should cede control of their territorial rights in San Jose, since the A’s gave them away as a gift in the late 20th century.”

Sure. They could. Except the Giants have their Single-A club there and it would cost a whole lot to relocate.

And there’s no way they wouldn’t have to, because nobody wants to pay to see minor league ball when they can spend the same amount to watch a big league team.

“Oakland should have ponied up the cash years ago — both team’s need their own park and it’s obvious.”

There’s more juice to this than any argument out there. And they’re trying, despite the lack of results.

But Oakland has the country’s third-highest homicide rate, with most of the murders occurring within the one mile area that surrounds the Oakland Sports Complex.

Colony Capital — a financial juggernaut similar to former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s brainchild Bain Capital — has been the most affluent partner of both the Raiders and A’s in building new stadiums.

Another included in the conversation has been the prince of Dubai, who Mayor Jean Quan told KGMZ was a primary partner before quickly retracting her comments.

It’s a work in progress, but not as simple as many other cities could make it out to be.

“Owner Lew Wolff has so much financial interest in Santa Clara County that he’s locked into moving the team there, it’s his fault there’s no stadium and he needs to go.”

Whoa buddy. Hold your horses. There’s something to the argument, though it’s not that cut and dry.

Wolff has his foot deep in San Jose area hotels and built his financial empire there. Despite all that, the A’s are plenty profitable where they are thanks to shared revenue, broadcasting deals and other such endeavors, even with an ugly ballpark that hardly gets filled up.

In fact, as it stands today, the A’s are the most profitable of the three teams that share the complex. It’s possible that Wolff could make more money by moving 20 miles south, but not guaranteed.

The Raiders could probably make twice the money by moving back to L.A., but they have vehemently denied any intent to move the team there. Instead, they have been fighting for a new stadium in Oakland.

The consensus among Bay Area residents seems to be that all of Oakland’s teams fit that city best: A roughneck town with an independent nature that prides itself on helping to mold the nature of West Coast sports.

The San Francisco Giants dealt with the task of building a new stadium by funding it themselves, with help from other corporations.

Owner Peter McGowan scraped together $357 million in private funds to build AT&T Park, and all concerned parties may need to seriously consider this as an option.

It’d be fair to almost everyone, particularly if Oakland dished out tax breaks for the next 20 years. Further, that’d lend itself the best public relations campaign and franchise could offer.

“We love Oakland, because Oakland loves us.” … “Oakland Sports — the realest in any game.”

That’s a nice catch-line, and L.A. can’t come close.

The city could also just finalize the propositions they have with outside contributors like Colony Capital and build Coliseum City.

Everyone wins there, and nobody takes a huge hit in the wallet. There’s already a BART stop, two freeway exits, and the blame shift turns into a rally cry for local politicians.

Not to mention the prospects of a tourist attraction in Oakland. Three teams on the rise, playing next to each-other, with recreation in the middle of everything.

Or everyone could just go away.

The L.A. Raiders, Oklahoma A’s and the San Francisco Warriors. Regardless or how anyone feels, that’s a real possibility. And the more blame is placed, the more likely it becomes.

But that’s a lose-lose for anyone currently involved. It’s a slap in the face to the many die-hards, who have watched their team’s lose repeatedly for the better part of 50 years.

Leaving it all to the basics, the die-hards deserve more.

More effort. More accountability. More transparency — not empty rhetoric and dishing from every angle.

And at the end of the day — however you feel about any party — it’s enduring pain and struggle while focusing on solutions that gets the job done. Asigning blame only creates larger hurdles.

That’s with anything in life.


Follow @SFBay and @JLeskiwNFL on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Athletics.

Source   SFBay
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© 2011-14 SFBay Media Associates LLC
 

© 2011-14 SFBay Media Associates LLC

© 2011-14 SFBay Media Associates LLC