Posted July 30, 2015
Matthew Artz - San Jose Mercury News -
OAKLAND -- Alameda County leaders said Wednesday that the best hope for building a new Raiders stadium in Oakland is for the city to buy out the county's stake in the sprawling Coliseum complex and handle the deal itself.
The county made its preference for a buyout known during a one-hour meeting with city, team and NFL brass that raised fresh questions as to whether local officials can get on the page when it comes to keeping Oakland's sports teams.
City leaders had drafted a letter to the Raiders spelling out key terms for a stadium deal, but did not submit it at Wednesday's meeting after failing to get the county to sign on.
The city and county own the 120-acre site in East Oakland, where both the Raiders and Oakland A's are considering building new stadiums and the city envisions also constructing a massive housing, retail and office development.
Supervisor Nate Miley, who first called for the county to be bought out of its Coliseum holdings two years ago, said eliminating the county from the equation would simplify negotiations with the sports teams and developers.
"Having a two-headed government agency overseeing the management of a sports and entertainment venue is not necessarily the most effective way for any of the parties to function properly," Miley said.
Still, the county has not said how the city or an outside developer could structure a buyout of the county's share of the Coliseum land. The city and county are on the hook for nearly $100 million in bond debt that was used to renovate O.Co Coliseum 20 years ago.
"Everyone acknowledges the city doesn't have the money," Miley said. "So we would work on a payment plan that would be ironclad."
The city and county have a tentative offer from a company formed by San Diego businessman Floyd Kephart to buy nearly 90 acres of the Coliseum site for $116 million, but Kephart wanted most of that money reinvested into parking garages for the future housing, retail and office development rather than paying off the county's debt.
Also complicating matters is that the NFL is pushing for quick progress on a stadium deal for the Raiders, who are one of three teams threatening to move to Los Angeles as early 2016.
Wednesday's meeting was attended by Oakland Assistant City Administrator Claudia Cappio, Alameda County Auditor-Controller Pat O'Connell, NFL Executive Vice President Eric Grubman, Raiders owner Mark Davis and team president Marc Badain.
Grubman, who is leading the NFL's Los Angeles relocation efforts, declined to speak about the meeting. Badain and Davis could not be reached for comment.
Cappio said the Raiders requested more information from the city about how it could help shepherd a stadium deal and that she expected to meet with team officials again in a couple weeks.
The letter drafted by city officials, according to sources, included commitments that the Raiders would not be asked to pay off past debt on O.Co Coliseum, fund needed infrastructure improvements on the Coliseum site, or buy land for a new stadium.
However, the team would be taxed for its use of the new stadium even though the facility would sit on public land, sources said.
Speaking before Miley announced that the county officially wanted out of the Coliseum deal, Cappio said county officials were still reviewing the letter and that the city and county had "a good kind of partnership."
"We're working hand-in-hand, but were not quite ready to propose something publicly in a joint fashion," she said.
The city and county have long fought over their stewardship of the Coliseum property. County leaders bristled over a 2004 city parking tax that put more game day dollars into city coffers. And the city stands to generate more tax revenue than the county from major development at the site.
"The interest of the city and the interest of the county don't always align," Miley said. "In some cases they rarely align. It's challenging and complicated."