City of Oakland grasping at stadium straws

City of Oakland grasping at stadium straws
January 31, 2012, 7:58 pm
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So Oakland has decided to abandon its mostly chimerical Victory Court ballpark plan and concentrate on revamping the Coliseum instead, you say?Well, heres a lesson for you kids out there. If you never intended to do something in the first place, and then waited a few years after everyone figured it out, how far past the phrase empty gesture have you gone?The answer of course depends on whether you believe in their strategy, which is, If San Jose fails, John Fisher will sell, and maybe new owners will buy what were selling.Or in their backup strategy, which is We lose the As, but maybe we can save the other two teams.

Oaklands real stumbling block on the stadium front is money and it always has been. The city teeters on the edge of destitution, unable to meet its more pressing obligations, and prioritizing scarce city resources should put private sports franchise on the furthest burner there is. Thats just basic civic logic.But playing at being a player isnt the same as being a player, and everyone knows it. Which leaves Oakland playing the card a three of clubs in a world where only face cards pay.Maybe this strategy works. Maybe it doesnt. But it is a rash, panicked, yet still half-hearted approach to keeping a team it has never given much indication it wanted to hold in the first place.Indeed, the entire Oakland argument has been the same one since the dying Walter Haas directed that the team be sold to Steve Schott as a part of his estate planning But were Oakland.Thats an argument that hasnt resonated for years now. Even the Raiders are unmoved by it; they remain even-money to join St. Louis as the second team in Los Angeles when that city finally gets its stadium firmed up. And the Warriors are already beginning the earnest flirtation with San Francisco.But Oakland has made its political and psychic choice already. It changed the stadium to re-accommodate the Raiders while ignoring the tenant it already had, and without the Warriors, the arena is as useful as the Astrohall, which was the arena next to the Astrodome and is now equally empty.Thats not the reason Fisher and Lew Wolff want out of Oakland, to be sure. They bought the As as a real estate-and-revenge deal for land and to put a finger in the eye of the Giants, who once claimed Fishers father Don as a partner.The second motivation is now gone, but the first remains, and Oaklands inability to assemble a will, a plan, its share of the financing burden or a compelling argument to Fisher and Wolff to do it themselves was in evidence well before this last act.The problem with the Coliseum plan remains as it always has been Wolffs ballpark plan requires an external retail component that the Coliseum cannot (or at least has yet to) create.So we can only assume that Oaklands sudden arousal on behalf of the existing site is to hold the Raiders and Warriors alone, and the As only if San Jose somehow collapses, or if Fisher loses the will to care. If either of those things occur and at this point the only thing keeping the project from beginning seems to be the As and Giants agreeing on a bribery figure that satisfies both sides and Bud Seligs ability to whip owners votes Oakland could try to help engineer a sale, or stand smugly as the only alternative.But in the actual three-dimensional world, Oakland is actually playing for what it still thinks it can hold the other two tenants.Or lowest of all, playing for some face-saving gesture in failure that nobody will buy. Cities shouldnt be in stadium ventures anyway, because the money the city invests is never realized, but pretending to be a player when youre not is just as bad.