Thursday, June 26, 2014

A's Lease "Extension" Just Prolongs Team's Limbo

In terms of the A's "announced" 10-year lease extension with the JPA that oversees the O.co Coliseum, the devil is really in the details.

First, we don't even know that the lease extension has been finalized. Per this San Francisco Chronicle report by Carolyn Jones yesterday:

"We are still negotiating, so were surprised by the announcement of an agreement," [Oakland Mayor Jean Quan] said. "We plan to meet (Thursday), continue negotiations, and hope there will be an agreement soon."

OK. Keep that in mind.

The Associated Press report in circulation regarding the agreement has several very interesting quotes:

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig commended both sides for reaching a deal on a lease extension, while offering, "I continue to believe that the Athletics need a new facility and am fully supportive of the club's view that the best site in Oakland is the Coliseum site."

A certain professional football team happens to feel the same way as well...

An additional quote:

"We very much appreciate Commissioner Selig's support for Oakland to be the home of the A's," coliseum authority Chairman Nate Miley added in a statement. "We also agree, and we believe the A's do as well, that long-term the Coliseum is the best site for them in the East Bay."

OK. Either Miley is either giving the A's the push in the A's-Raiders stadium game. or he still believes in Coliseum City and Santa Claus while we are at it. (Perhaps the latter can deliver the former?)

As previously detailed, the Howard Terminal plan was DOA and remains off-the-table with the current ownership group. A's owner Lew Wolff hammered in another -- if not the final -- nail in the proposed waterfront park with this quote:

"Howard Terminal as a potential ballpark site has been and is totally rejected by MLB and the A's," Wolff said in an email to The Associated Press.

Selig chimed in on the issue in a separate AP article:

"I continue to believe that the Athletics need a new facility and am fully supportive of the club's view that the best site in Oakland is the Coliseum site."

Beautiful renderings do not a ballpark project make.

So, is San Jose dead?

If you read the last quote by Selig carefully, you will note that he qualified his comment with "best site in Oakland (emphasis mine)."

The Oakland Tribune later did some editorializing of its own:

[Rhamesis] Muncada (Newballpark.org blogger), who had supported the A's now-defunct bid to move to San Jose, said the problem for Oakland and Alameda County "is that they want to retain all teams but don't have the resources to keep more than one, and they've been unwilling to choose between the two."

So, according to Tribune writer Matt O'Brien, the move to San Jose is "now-defunct." I wonder if long-time A's-to-San Jose champion and current San Jose mayoral candidate Sam Liccardo feels differently?

The Raiders

Muncada hits the nail on the head with his additional comments in the Tribune piece on the Raiders and A's vying for the same small pool of public funds and, more importantly, the same site:

[Muncada] who has been following the negotiations called the deal a "double edge sword because both the A's and the Raiders are competing for the single most feasible site." 

 "The Raiders and the A's are making statements to appear as if they aren't competing, but it's clearly evident (they are)," said Rhamesis Muncada, a San Jose resident who runs NewBallPark.org. "Raiders will take lease approval as a step toward siding with A's, moving Raiders out. A's will think the same if Raiders reach a deal to build Coliseum City." 

That same article also contains this caveat:

Oakland leaders had recently expressed some misgivings about details of the tentative deal. So did Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose vision for a new football stadium could be complicated by the long-term A's lease on the site the two teams share.

Waiting to Exhale/Much Ado About Nothing

Despite how it may be wrapped up by public officials, the A's lease extension is little more than a short-term solution. There is almost a zero percent chance that, barring massive investment, the A's will play at their current stadium into the 2020's. This fact makes Oakland Councilman Larry Reid's comment all the more amusing:

Fans should not exhale just yet, but you know, we're getting close.

Close to what? To an eventual showdown pitting the city's professional football and baseball interests? In truth, even with an inked extension, pro-Oakland A's fans are no closer to retaining the team in the long run.

Just listen to Wolff:

"I think it's a more-than-fair deal for both sides. There is an exit clause if the Raiders come through with whatever they're planning."

If you are planning on streaking down Broadway shouting,"The A's are staying!," you might want to hold off.

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