Kudos to The Oakland Tribune for covering the elephant in the room — the upcoming Coliseum lease deadline. The A’s current lease is good until the end of 2013. What happens after that is fair game. This is where things get interesting, and Lew Wolff’s statements about the A’s having no future in Oakland could come back to haunt him. There is absolutely no way a new stadium anywhere can open before the lease expires and the A’s will need a home in the meantime. With Wolff stonewalling Oakland’s many efforts to get a ballpark built within city limits, it seems disingenuous to say the least for Wolff to go back and try and get a new Coliseum lease done, just so he can once again consider other cites. Also, considering how long that it has taken for Lew to get the (yet to break ground) Earthquakes stadium together, an A’s team still owned by Wolff could be a lame duck team for years. No wonder A’s president Michael Crowley (can someone fill us in on what he actually does?) said he got a “convoluted” response from the city and county when the A’s made an offer for a new Coliseum lease this year.
Currently, the A’s have a sweetheart deal in place, and have had one for over a decade. They pay little-to-nothing in rent and keep all of the stadium and parking revenues. Do you think that Oakland or the JPA will accept similar terms the next time around? Wrong. The article quotes sports economist Andrew Zimbalist, saying, “Oakland does not have a lot of bargaining power.” We highly disagree. Where will Wolff go? There are no MLB facilities ready in other cities. AT&T Park or Candlestick? Lew burned those bridges long time ago. Sacramento? Vegas? Get serious. Any move out of the Coliseum to a minor league facility would be cost prohibitive. Not only would you have to move the day-of-game baseball operations, but also the front office and the support staff. Conceivably the A’s can take over some empty Silicon Valley space for some things, but it would create a logistical nightmare if the team is outside of the Bay Area. And if the South Bay is allegedly going to explode with A’s fans when the A’s move down there, how do you market a team in Giants territory when you play more than 100 miles away. It makes no sense.
Lew has no options. He must sign the lease. Or he should sell the A’s. No way should Oakland give in to a sweetheart lease. No way should we take anymore dishonesty and backroom deals from Wolff and Fisher. All cards are out and on the table and we have the facts in our favor. Oakland and its fans deserve the best, and certainly better than what Wolff has offered over the years.