City Of Oakland Can Buyout Alameda County Share Of Oakland Coliseum, But Shouldn’t – Here’s Why

Howard Terminal as home for the A'sHoward Terminal as home for the Oakland A's (Photo courtesy of City of Oakland)

(Last Updated On: December 29, 2018)

Oakland News Now – The City of can buyout the County of Alameda’s “share” of the Coliseum.

That’s contrary to a media report claiming the The Mayor of said could not buyout the County of Alameda’s ownership stake in the Coliseum. Further, I know for a fact the Libby Schaaf, The Mayor of , did not say that in a report on a meeting with business leaders last week. The truth is, the City of can, indeed, afford to pay for the County of Alameda’s share of the Coliseum – and it can do this in a number of ways.

That does not mean City of should buyout the County of Alameda.

The City of should not give the County of Alameda one dime for the Coliseum. And reason is simple: the County of Alameda is essentially forcing into a place where it spends public money just so the County can get a free-ride on new revenue from a privately-financed ballpark, even if it’s built at Howard Terminal at Jack London’s Waterfront. See, the County of Alameda gets 35 percent of each property tax dollar.

So if a ballpark is constructed at Howard Terminal, the County of Alameda gets rich off the land speculation from property being bought up around the proposed stadium. Then it gets money from the Oakland A’s – and would have already scored $90 million from the City of Oakland. The City of Oakland is less $90 million (which is about what it would take to buy out the Coliseum debt exposure). So the County of Alameda wins not just by getting Oakland’s buyout, but then by the activity of a privately financed stadium – which pays property taxes.

Also, the County of Alameda, in pulling out of the Coliseum, takes its debt capacity with it, too. That also hurts the City of Oakland, which needs the County’s credit to more easily build structures at the Coliseum, where private financing needs to be helped.

That’s not right and it makes Oakland look like a complete sucker.

Just say “NO” Mayor Schaaf. Just say no.

Rather, the County of Alameda should recognize the fact that Oakland bears the brunt of the operating cost and infrasture service cost to the Coliseum, and just ask that the City of Oakland fashion a deal that earns money for the County, too. And the County should remember that we have an emergency-level homeless problem that we have yet to solve. Supervisor Nate Miley knows this.

It was Nate (one of the best public servants in California) who came up with this idea of “allowing” Oakland to buyout the Coliseum in 2015. And all because he and the Board of Supervisors became royally upset with what they saw as the City of Oakland’s collectively inflexible negotiating style. Nate claimed that was losing money from the Coliseum, but Oakland wasn’t because it controlled parking and fees.

Well, that was kinda true, but the real reason for that state of affairs was Nate and the Board of Supervisors on the Coliseum Joint Powers Authority insisted on having Coliseum JPA Executive Directors who were not the best negotiators. Plus, in 2014, the Coliseum JPA was all set to install another person who had no sports business experience in former California Assemblyman Guy Houston until I intervened and went to bat to get current Coliseum boss Scott McKibben hired, and gained an ally in Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who was on the Coliseum JPA Board.

Scott ran the Rose Bowl and ANG Newspapers, was on my Oakland Super Bowl Bid Committee, and so was the best candidate for the Coliseum job, and since his installation, has made more money from the Coliseum, and stands to do even better if the Raiders sign the proposed lease extension (the Silver and Black are of the belief they’re going to get tricked into getting into the deal, only to get sued by the City of Oakland, so they’re playing a game of chicken that has an end date, but I digress.)

Anyway, my point here is that Nate and the County of Alameda have only themselves to blame for the bad revenue flow to its coffers from the Coliseum. I’ll never forget when I had a Oakland Super Bowl Bid briefing with the County and City (specifically, Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid on my left, Supervisor Scott Haggerty on my right, County Administrator Susan Muranishi across the table to the left, and the Coliseum Executive Director Deena McClain across the table opposite me) on August 25th 1999 (as I was working to bring the 2005 Super Bowl to Oakland), and McClain, the then-current Coliseum JPA executive director openly said “I don’t get this thing called sports sponsorship.” I about fell out of my chair.

In fairness to Ms. McClain, she was a skilled bond lawyer – sports business was not her deal, as they say, at the time – even as she was running the Coliseum. But Deena was well-liked by the Board of Supervisors, and was an aggressive lawyer who would file a lawsuit against the Raiders over a poorly-written lease letter from Amy Trask.

I know that’s a lot of background, but I want you to appreciate how many years of, shall we say, ‘improper’ management we had. So, by 2015, I can understand why Nate was upset, but, again they made their own bed long ago, did Alameda County.

Holding Oakland responsible for that and asking us to take a sucker deal is wrong. Funny, but wrong.

Stay tuned.

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About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media

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