Lew Wolff

Kephart clown show did more harm than good

Floyd Kephart, a private financial expert, was chosen by the city of Oakland to conjure up an investment plan for Coliseum City, an ambitious attempt to keep the Raiders, A’s and Warriors on the sunny side of the bay. The plan involved some $4 billion over 120 acres, including new sports stadia as well as businesses and residential units. Kephart was given an exclusive window until Sept. 24 to figure out something feasible which would also be attractive to one, two, or all three of the teams in Oakland.

Because the Coliseum is owned and operated by both the city of Oakland and Alameda County, way too many people are involved in the negotiations to get anything accomplished there. The Joint Powers Authority consists of eight people, four representing the city and four representing the county, and they’re the ones entrusted to make all the necessary decisions concerning various issues for the complex. Kephart was supposed to be a wise man who could consolidate the wishes of all involved and present a blueprint for a future development. The only problem was Kephart operated in a bubble.

You would think that if you wanted to get a deal done with a person or a business, you might take into serious consideration the demands of those parties. A’s owner Lew Wolff proclaimed he would never sign off on a baseball stadium built next to a football stadium, because he didn’t want to compete with sponsors from the other venue. What does Kephart plan? A baseball stadium next to a football stadium. Meanwhile, all the way back in April, the Raiders expressed (in writing!) that they would keep all ancillary revenues generated by the football stadium, such as concerts and naming rights. What does Kephart plan? All ancillary revenues generated by the football stadium would go into the costs of building it. Earth to Floyd: do you even care to listen?

Now that both of the teams which play outside in Oakland are frustrated beyond words, we can safely say that Kephart has made things much worse. Even his indifferent attitude about “having other projects on other continents” and “everyone thinks Oakland is the garden of the world” showed how laissez-faire Kephart viewed the entire project. So he comes off as a stupid jerk who may have just ruined everything. Think about it: every day counts with these teams, especially the Raiders, as they have another option. To think that Oakland will have to wait until the 24th to jettison this guy could be detrimental in the interim.

Oakland fans are slowly watching their teams bleed to death and don’t know what to do about it. Protest? Boycott? You’re only hurting yourself if you miss games you’d rather be watching. The owners won’t cry over the cash you left at home. So what we need is someone real, not a bozo like Kephart who treated Oakland like a joke, to ride in on a white horse with a great plan and a lot of cash. I doubt it will happen, but there are plenty of millionaires around — you can’t swing a cat in Piedmont without hitting a few.

The situation is dire. Thank goodness Kephart is gone. He didn’t treat the plan seriously and therefore disrespected everyone involved with it. I had hope for him, but he was a major fail. He may have done irreparable damage. The question now is, how much time is left before it’s too late? And is there a savior waiting in the wings? Is there is, he or she had better hurry up.

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