ONN – Why Warriors Owing Oakland Coliseum JPA $40 Million Is A Big Deal
The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority won it’s most significant court judgement in its history when an arbitrator ruled that the Golden State Warriors owed $40 Million in outstanding bond payments.
For an organization that had been told the bond payments made primarily from the revenues from the base rental payments and the personal seat license system for the team seats were not the obligation of the Warriors, this sets a precedent that will cause shock-waves through sports legal circles.
The reason is the way the bond document was written, the Warriors intepretation, according to now Senior Vice President Raymond Ridder. In 2014 Ridder claimed that the “base rental payments” the team made were not really tied to the bond debt service. Thus, the Warriors seemed to think they could leave Oakland, build a new arena in San Francisco, and not deal with any debt obligations.
But, as I tried to tell Mr. Ridder in 2014 those payments were done by the Warriors and to help pay for an arena rebuilt so much it was brand new, and for the Warriors in 1998. What is now called Oracle Arena was so new in 1998 that the only remaining construct from the original venue was its cross-hatched exterior design and materials – the inside was all new.
Inspite of that, the Warriors new owner Joe Lacob introduced the idea that they were leaving Oakland almost as soon as he purchased the team in 2010. “It took a year to get our feet wet, examine the organization and make a lot of changes. Step two is starting the process of getting a new arena somewhere in the Bay Area. We’re a Bay Area team. We consider the whole Bay Area our market, whether we’re located in San Francisco or Oakland,” Lacob said at the time.
That was a slap in the face to majority minority Oakland, and sent the message that Lacob would prefer the Warriors be in a mostly-white San Francisco, rather than mostly black, Latino, and Asian Oakland.
Thus, when it became clear the Warriors planned to skip town without paying the rent, the idea that Lacob and company didnt like the place once called “Chocolate City” was cemented in place. Those of us who love Oakland had to sit back and watch as a beloved symbol of our town that should have been named “Oakland Warriors” was taken from us, and there was nothing we could do about it. Heck, we couldn’t even get the rent owed to us.
Not so fast. Thanks to the aggressive work of the Coliseum JPA led by Oakland City Councilmember Larry Reid and Coliseum JPA Executive Director Scott McKibben, as well as the legal work of the San Francisco law firm of Keker Van Nest, a judgment for Oakland prevailed. The Coliseum JPA won and not just for the Coliseum, but for the Soul of Oakland.
For a town that’s losing the Warriors and the Raiders, and some of that soul, and suffers under the weight of enormous changes in a market that for so long ignored Oakland because it was black, it was nice to get a win.
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