Oakland City Council approves the A’s ballpark

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Athletics Nation 22 July, 2021 - 01:24am 6 views

Are the A's leaving Oakland?

The A's are the last professional franchise remaining in Oakland after the NBA's Golden State Warriors relocated to San Francisco and the NFL's Raiders to Las Vegas. The Washington PostOakland OKs terms for $12B ballpark but A's aren't happy

And in this case, the fine print is actually...a pleasant surprise?

Unfortunately, a day that should justifiably have been a day of celebration for A’s fans was instead a day of confusion that needs to be unpacked and translated. So, here we go.

The upshot is that the city approved a non-binding term sheet for the A’s Howard Terminal ballpark and ancillary development. That is, by far, the farthest any new ballpark action has ever gotten in Oakland.

The devil in the details is that it’s not the term sheet proposed by the A’s. However, upon review, it’s not really that far off from what the A’s were asking for. A last minute change by the Council was actually a massive step forward, and a revelation even to A’s marionette-in-chief Dave Kaval.

The A’s previously had been hammering home that they did not want to be on the hook to pay the estimated $350 million bill for offsite infrastructure (i.e. improvements to Broadway and Jack London Square, which are not on the ballpark site, but necessary to have functional and safe access to the park). And lo and behold, the City of Oakland actually came out and agreed to that! They’re smelling infrastructure money flowing from the feds and California, and you can’t get infrastructure money if you’re not building infrastructure. So voila, they’re confident enough to tell the A’s they got this. Ironically, yay covid?

The A’s originally proposed that the team would front the $350 million and collect it back from dedicated property taxes originating from that Broadway corridor. The city is not into that idea, because they don’t feel the A’s deserve tax dollars from the city that are only tangentially connected to the ballpark development.

While Kaval was complaining, astute observers were, well, observing, that this actually takes a $350 million expense off the A’s hands.

And on top of that, the physical ballpark and development site plan approved by the Council is pretty much exactly what the A’s proposed. The “shared vision of the waterfront” that Kaval kept parroting is, apparently, shockingly, actually shared.

It appears the only items in the city’s term sheet that are new and potentially up for negotiation are the affordable housing requirements (the city increased those) and community benefits funding (which is proposed to come from a different source). The city is proposing to fund the community benefits by other mechanisms besides property taxes, including permitting fees and a small tax on property transfers within the district.

The A’s just saved $350 million that they thought they were going to have to spend, and the city’s asking for a few things around the margins that really should come as no surprise. From the moment the term sheet was announced, community benefits and affordable housing were included. In fact, those were in the A’s term sheet. The only difference was there was a different financing mechanism (property taxes, instead of permit/transfer taxes).

Not only did the city move significantly towards the A’s, they also expressed a firm desire to get a binding, final deal by the end of the year. That timing is dictated in part by an approved environmental impact report (EIR), which is expected in the fall.

So, the city basically took the biggest hurdle out of the equation and is pushing for final approval of the project in 2021.

Sadly initially after what should have been a happy moment for A’s fans, Kaval stuck with his “they voted on the wrong thing!” routine without bothering, to you know, note that the city gave him back $350 million. And therefore we were banned from even smiling momentarily at the farthest an A’s ballpark proposal had ever made it.

However, after he actually read the damn thing, his robotic tone slipped into a human range, and he said (gasp!) “We were encouraged there was a positive vote and we were encouraged there was some movement from the city.”

So, if you’re keeping up with the ongoing mouth spew from your favorite team’s president, apparently yesterday “yes means no” but today “yes kinda means yes.” Any objective reading of the term sheets says the two sides aren’t really far apart.

Let’s be practical about this. The city is ready to hand over 55 acres of prime urban waterfront in the Bay Area for the A’s to develop and cash in on. The A’s say it’s a $12 billion project. If that’s the size of the project, the profits are likely many multiples of that. There is absolutely no scenario, none, where the A’s can get that in Las Vegas or any other market for that matter. In addition, the A’s currently own half of the Oakland Coliseum site, which, per the terms of their purchase of that site, they would have to offer up for sale if the A’s don’t stAy in Oakland.

So the tightwad billionaire John Fisher’s decision is either rake in mega billions in East AND West Oakland, in his Bay Area backyard, or give all of that up for a subsidy measuring a tiny fraction of that size, in a much smaller market where he has no personal connection. Maybe I’m naïve, but I don’t see the A’s throwing all that away based on having to pony up 5% more affordable housing than they thought, or whatever pittances the city is asking for. Every alternative pales in comparison.

The A’s probably could make a boatload just by signing on to this term sheet the Council passed with no changes. If some items around the edges need to be worked out, the city is ready to work those out. Hopefully the A’s are ready to deal for real, because they got pretty much everything they asked for.

I am completely incapable of actual optimism on this subject, but at this time I’m at least not pessimistic, which might be the first time I’ve ever said that about the A’s never-ending ballpark quest.

So, pardon me for pouring myself a celebratory beverage. There’s been so little to celebrate in this entire rancid saga, and I’ll take my moments where I can get them.

Read full article at Athletics Nation

A's fans react to Howard terminal vote

KRON 4 22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

Despite Oakland city council vote, A's keep eye on Las Vegas

FOX5 Las Vegas 22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

Editorial: How Oakland should respond to the A's hardball tactics

San Francisco Chronicle 22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

The A’s have demanded that the council approve lopsided terms for the $12 billion project at Howard Terminal, a site fraught with logistical and other complications. Their proposal would finance associated infrastructure and community benefits with future tax revenue from not one but two special districts, encompassing nearby Jack London Square as well as the stadium site at the port. The team also balked at a long-term commitment to the city and outrageously tried to escape a legal requirement that a share of the 3,000 housing units be designated as affordable, though executives appear to have softened their troubling stances on those issues.

The city reasonably countered last week with terms limiting the plan’s reliance on tax revenues to the stadium district while compromising on matters such as the duration of the team’s commitment. Hours later, A’s President Dave Kaval rejected that as equivalent to “a no vote on the project” that would “end our last option to build a new ballpark in Oakland” while unnecessarily reiterating the team’s interest in Las Vegas. His haughty tone was in marked contrast to that of Mayor Libby Schaaf, who expressed support for the project and the negotiations.

The team’s hardball strategy has all but dared Oakland to refuse unreasonable demands on the city and its taxpayers and “force” the A’s do what they seem to want to do anyway. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said last week that the council’s vote would “determine the fate of baseball in Oakland” and heaped more superfluous emphasis on the threat to leave for Las Vegas, where A’s executives scheduled a visit for the day after the vote.

Schaaf is right to insist on protecting the city from effectively subsidizing the enrichment of a private sports franchise and its billionaire owner. If that means Oakland can’t compete with officials who have shown their eagerness to sell out, so be it.

Oakland Athletics continue stadium negotiations to stay in town, still considering Las Vegas option

ESPN 22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

Oakland Athletics president Dave Kaval stood somewhere near the south side of the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday morning, with the Cosmopolitan and Planet Hollywood within eyesight. Kaval will be there alongside his architect over the next two days, he said, sitting in on a series of meetings and analyzing where a prospective new stadium could someday reside. Meanwhile, negotiations with the city of Oakland regarding a 35,000-seat waterfront ballpark at the Howard Terminal site are in what Kaval described as "the bottom of the ninth inning."

Oakland City Council officials voted Tuesday in favor of a non-binding term sheet for the ballpark and its surrounding development, a project that will cost up to $12 billion. But Kaval pushed back because the city voted in favor of a term sheet that differed from the one the A's proposed three months earlier and included amendments that the team was seeing for the first time. Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred followed with a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome and promising to "immediately begin conversations with the A's to chart a path forward for the Club."

"I think we need to unpack what was passed and what it means," Kaval said in a phone interview with ESPN. "The fact that the city did not vote on our proposal -- I mean it's unusual to have that positioning. We do appreciate some of the concessions that were made. I think the party had been negotiating in good faith to try to get to a mutually agreeable solution. Obviously we didn't get there before the vote. And so we have to balance that progress with some of the stark realities of, 'How do we move this project into an implementation phase?' We can't let the process be the product."

The A's made a public proposal in April stating they would privately finance the ballpark, which will cost an estimated $1 billion, while also providing $450 million in community benefits and arranging for an additional $11 billion in private investment to eventually build up the surrounding neighborhood with 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, 270,000 square feet for retail, an indoor 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms and up to 18 acres available for public parks.

The city countered with a plan that includes three key differences: a new financial structure that depends on only one infrastructure financing district, denying the A's request to create an additional one at Jack London Square; an increase in affordable housing demands to 35% of residential units; and an additional community benefits fund that isn't solely committed to capital investments.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other community leaders hosted a news conference near the Howard Terminal site on Wednesday morning in which they touted the city's proposal and urged the A's to continue negotiating. Schaaf said she's noticing an "openness" from the A's, adding that the city "provided the primary things that they asked for, that they have said they need to keep going on this process."

"I respect that they're trying to keep the heat on," Schaaf said, "and what better place to go than Vegas for heat."

Kaval, on the other hand, painted the Vegas trips as due diligence to cover for a project that might not materialize and provide a parallel path for a team playing in an outdated facility. Kaval said he wants more specifics about how the A's would be reimbursed for a $352 million infrastructure payment and more specificity around when environmental clearances will be given and when a final binding vote can occur, ideally by the end of the current baseball season.

Oakland city officials see their counterproposal from Friday, and the amendments that were introduced on Tuesday, as the natural evolution of a negotiation.

A's officials basically see it as a new agreement entirely.

"We need to know what was passed, how it relates to our original proposal," Kaval said. "We need to understand the timeline to get the definitive vote. And we need to work really closely with the league, because they have a strong point of view on this. They wanna make sure the A's have a home. We really are running out of time. We're under a lot of pressure because our current facility is 10 years past its useful life. Let's not forget that going sideways is really no longer an option."

The A's have spent the better part of the past two decades hoping to secure a new stadium in the Bay Area, a pursuit that took them through San Jose, Fremont and multiple sites in Oakland, most notably around Laney College. Renovations of the current Coliseum site, where the A's have played since 1968, have been deemed nonviable largely because of the team's stated desire for a downtown location.

Manfred said before last week's All-Star Game that it would be a "mistake" to refer to the Las Vegas option as a bluff, calling it "a viable alternative for a major league club." Other relocation options -- including Portland, Oregon; Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Montreal -- could materialize if the team's deal with the city falls through.

That is not necessarily the case just yet.

"We're focused on the two parallel paths -- Oakland and southern Nevada," Kaval said. "That's by the direction of the league, and that will remain our focus until they give us additional direction."

Are the A's Vegas bound?

KTVU FOX 2 San Francisco 22 July, 2021 - 12:11pm

A's explore Las Vegas day after Oakland vote on Howard Terminal stadium

KTVU San Francisco 21 July, 2021 - 07:18pm

The Oakland A's were considering the potential ballpark in Howard Terminal proposed by the city of Oakland, KTVU's Rob Roth reports.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf stood at the entrance of Howard Terminal Wednesday, flanked by city, community, and labor leaders.

They were promoting the plan the city council passed Tuesday on a new $12 billion Oakland A's waterfront ballpark. It was a plan that also included condos, offices, and retail space.

"We also set terms to make sure this will be a  great day for Oakland's finances and a good day for taxpayers," said Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas.

The city included three new planks in its proposal Tuesday. 

The A's were mulling it over.

"We are taking time to analyze and really unpack what amendments were made to the city's proposal from last Friday. That's going to take at least a couple of days," said Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval.

Kaval traveled to Las Vegas Wednesday to look at possible ballpark sites in the desert.

"Play things out in Oakland. See what happens there. We are kind of in the bottom of the ninth. Build momentum in southern Nevada which has such a great recent track record with professional sports," Kaval told Las Vegas TV station KVVU.

SEE ALSO: A's fate in Oakland still unclear after city council vote

But even if the A's and city did agree, one major consideration to any deal at Howard Terminal would be the port of Oakland, the second largest port in California.

More than 300,000 trucks a year currently use the Howard Terminal. The question would be where would they go.

"They are spilling out into the neighborhood or trucks are spending more time on the freeway. Those are direct issues that need to be addressed in the short term," said Mike Jacob, head of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association.

Jacob was also concerned about the long-term impact on the industry. 

"How do we grow. How do we maintain what we do when we are looking to add millions of more containers over the next few decades," said Jacob

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