.Coliseum Authority Postpones Vote on New Raiders’ Lease

The morning after the Oakland Raiders unveiled a surprise joint proposal with the San Diego Chargers to build a stadium in Southern California, the Oakland Coliseum Joint Powers Authority (JPA) postponed a decision to approve a one-year lease extension for the team to play another season at O.co Coliseum.

No official reason was offered for the postponement, which was announced after the JPA officially named former Oakland Tribune publisher Scott McKibben as its new executive director. A vote by the JPA on the Raiders lease, however, could occur at a special meeting scheduled for early March, said Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, a member of the stadium authority.

JPA Commissioner Chris Dobbins said the move should not be seen a response to a report Thursday evening in the Los Angeles Times revealing that the Raiders and Chargers had recently purchased land at a landfill in the city of Carson, near Los Angeles, for a new 68,000-seat stadium to be shared by the rival football teams.

“The city wants to get its ducks in a row. We don’t want something to happen like last summer with the A’s where the city and county looked like they were playing stupid,” said Dobbins, referring to negotiations last year in which the Oakland City Council balked at a deal that the county had agreed to with the A’s. Dobbins, like other JPA commissioners, did not know about the Raiders and Chargers’ stadium plans before last night.

Other members of the JPA, including Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, said they first heard of the stadium plan from news reports and that Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid was alerted by Raiders officials shortly before the LA Times article was posted online.

“It’s still posturing, but even so, the Raiders are still saying they want to stay here. It really puts it on us to make something happen. Historically, we haven’t gotten anything done,” said Dobbins.

JPA officials agree that time is running out on keeping the Raiders in Oakland, while giving hints to some of the terms potentially being negotiated with the city, county, and the Coliseum City development group, known as New City Development, led by San Diego businessman Floyd Kephart.

“The clock is ticking,” said Miley. “The deadline is approaching.”

In an interview following the JPA meeting, Miley placed the current odds of the Raiders building a stadium in Oakland at “fifty-fifty.” But, he added, the Raiders are growing more comfortable with New City Development. Oakland officials recently approved a ninety-day extension of its Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) with New City. Miley added that he believes the county will eventually join the ENA. However, neither government body nor the Raiders have seen details on how New City plans to finance Coliseum City, he said.

When asked about comments made by Kephart suggesting his plan for a new stadium is relatively simple to achieve and that Alameda County officials need to get on board with the ENA, Miley said, “I say it’s easy to do, too. All we need is Floyd Kephart to come up with some money and not expect the public sector to come up with all the money.”

Miley said, however, that the county is not comfortable with some of the current terms in the ENA. “This deal is going to be scrutinized extremely closely,” he said, Although Miley would not disclose the ENA terms currently under negotiation, he said they may include resolving the Coliseum debt, land costs, and general financing. Infrastructure costs to taxpayers currently under negotiations could be “hundreds of millions,” he said. “We’re not necessarily opposed to putting some [public] dollars into that, it’s a question of how much.” Later, Miley seemed to be more certain about the potential of using taxpayers’ money to fund a portion of the stadium construction, saying, “I do think we’re going have to contribute something.”

Reid, who was elected chair of the JPA on Friday, replacing Miley, was critical of the JPA’s inability to get on track. “We need to step up our game,” said Reid.

“It has been very frustrating for me as an elected official to try and understand what’s going on in our effort to get a simple three-part agreement signed,” he added, referring to the city, the county, and the Raiders.

He said Kephart’s group is “about 90 percent there” in procuring an agreement with the team. “The Raiders will say that,” said Reid. “The city is already there. We need our partners at the county to step up their game.”

Still, there are questions about who is financially backing Kephart’s bid. Reid said he can’t reveal Kephart’s partners but, “I know they’re real. I know they have the capacity to do the things that needs to get done.”

Reid, however, does not entirely fault the county. He said city leadership under former Mayor Jean Quan set the tone for poor working relations with the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Quan decided early, Reid said, that the city would seek bidders for the project without consulting with the county and chose developer Colony Capital without the county’s input. “Folks told the mayor if you get out in front of this, it will get you re-elected,” said Reid with a giggle. “Well, it didn’t.”

Meanwhile, local officials met with NFL officials in January, said Reid. Their assessment was the city and county had made no progress in efforts to build a new stadium since a similar discussion between all the parties a year and a half ago. “They made it clear that the city and the county wasted the last eighteen months,” said Reid.

Reid, like other commissioners, said he had an inkling that the Raiders were preparing an announcement, but didn’t know for sure. Raiders President Marc Badain called Reid before the story broke Thursday evening, Reid said. Davis also spoke twice to Reid last night to reassure him the Raiders still prefer staying in Oakland.

And what about the Raiders and Chargers decision to buy land Carson? Reid said he doesn’t think it’s a game-changer. “It’s not a problem for me. I’m going to take Mark Davis and Marc Badain at their word when they say they want to stay in Oakland.”


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