Oakland’s Field of Dreams

Mayor Jean Quan announces deep-pocketed investors who are interested in bankrolling Coliseum City — a major sports and entertainment venue.

Building a major sports and entertainment complex at the Coliseum has been a smart idea ever since Mayor Jean Quan first unveiled the proposal nearly two years ago. The Coliseum, after all, sits directly on a BART line — unlike any other major sports facility in the Bay Area. The area around the Coliseum also has long needed a financial shot in the arm. The one big question that has dogged the proposal, however, is who would pay for it. And this week, Quan may have finally provided the answer with the disclosure that a wealthy Dubai investor and a major real estate investment company from Los Angeles have teamed up to bankroll Coliseum City.

“They’re looking at it as a long-term investment,” Quan said in an interview, referring to the investors Rashid Al Malik of Dubai and Colony Capital LLC of Los Angeles, which owns the Fairmont Hotels and Miramax Films. “We’re very excited.”

Al Malik and Colony Capital have long expressed interest in owning major sports and entertainment venues. They previously attempted to purchase LA Live in Los Angeles. “We are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work in partnership with the City of Oakland [and] Rashid Al Malik … to develop this unique property, which we expect will become a transformational and vital urban, residential sports and entertainment center for this city,” Colony CEO Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. said in a prepared statement, according to the Oakland Tribune, which first broke the story.

The revelation about the new investors also is welcome news for East Bay sports fans, who have endured years of speculation about their teams — the Oakland A’s and Raiders and the Golden State Warriors — all leaving town. In fact, Governor Jerry Brown, who blocked a proposal for a downtown stadium for the A’s when he was mayor of Oakland, signed legislation last week that could make it easier for the Warriors to move to San Francisco.

But the entrance of the wealthy investors in Oakland could change all that. Quan said that even with the new legislation that Brown signed, it could be years before the Warriors can obtain the various approvals the team still needs to construct a waterfront arena in San Francisco. And by then, Coliseum City could very well be on its way to being completed. “The Warriors still have many years to go,” she said.

For now, however, Oakland is focused primarily on keeping the Raiders in town, and the new investors are working with the city, the team, and architects to hammer out a concrete plan for incorporating a new football stadium in Coliseum City. The football stadium would be surrounded by entertainment venues, movie theaters, restaurants, bars, hotels, retail, and housing. And Al Malik and Colony Capital have the financial wherewithal to make it happen. Colony manages an investment portfolio valued at $32 billion.

As for the A’s, Quan said the city is still looking at developing a new ballpark for the team along the waterfront, northwest of Jack London Square at the Howard Terminal, a sixty-acre site owned by the Port of Oakland. The port is phasing the site out of operation because of the prohibitive costs of having to dredge the Oakland-Alameda Estuary to accommodate the new wave of giant cargo ships. Quan also noted that “Major League Baseball has always preferred the waterfront” over a new ballpark on the Coliseum property.

There had been speculation that the mayor was seeking Chinese investors for Coliseum City, after a private Chinese firm agreed earlier this year to finance a $1.5 billion major housing development along the waterfront, southeast of Jack London Square. Quan noted that that development, along with a new ballpark at Howard Terminal, also would be a huge financial boost for the Jack London district, Chinatown, and downtown — much like Coliseum City would be for the rest of Oakland.

The Old White Party

After Republicans took a beating in the 2012 national election, GOP leaders vowed to rebrand the party and make it more attractive to young minority voters. So, eleven months later, how is the GOP doing with its rebranding? According to a new poll, very badly.

The poll, commissioned by the National Journal, found that 78 percent of Americans think the GOP has either remained the same or has moved further away from representing their views. And the results are not surprising, considering that Congressional Republicans decided this week to shut down the federal government because of Obamacare — a program that seeks to expand private health insurance to millions of Americans, many of whom are young people of color.

In truth, GOP leaders can’t rebrand the party because they no longer have control of it. They effectively ceded power over the past several years to an ultra-conservative Tea Party faction of the GOP — which led the shutdown effort — in an attempt to appeal to the party’s base. This faction, which includes eighty members of Congress, has been dubbed the Suicide Caucus because of the widespread belief that it’s leading the party toward more electoral losses. The Suicide Caucus also has no interest in rebranding because it represents rural regions of the country that are becoming whiter, older, and more conservative, as The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza noted in a blog post last week.

Because of gerrymandering and demographic shifts, the average Suicide Caucus district is 73 percent white. Moreover, last year, Mitt Romney won these districts by an average of 23 percentage points, while losing the national election by 4 points. Not surprisingly, the Suicide Caucus itself is also the antithesis of diversity: 76 of its 80 members are men, and 79 of them are white.

And it’s these folks — old white men who represent rural conservative voters who hate President Obama and view his presidency as illegitimate — who were responsible for why our government was shut down this week.


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