Lew Wolff

A’s upset with Oakland JPA’s claim that team owes more than $5 million in rent

Oakland A's Coliseum

For the second straight day, the Oakland Athletics brass issued a stadium-related statement while their team was playing the Texas Rangers. Yesterday evening A’s PR Director Bob Rose put out a statement saying the organization “fully agrees” with an Athletics Nation story critical of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Today Lew Wolff said the team only fully agrees with part about Quan’s lease requirement. Not Coliseum project,” according to Oakland Tribune reporter Matthew Artz. 

While the team played baseball this afternoon, the A’s and JPA played a little tennis, lobbing statements that make it sound like the chances are slim that both parties will agree to a Coliseum lease extension anytime soon.

Via John Shea:

OAKLAND, CA – Today, the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority issued a statement regarding negotiations with Oakland Athletics on a ten year lease to remain at O.co Coliseum. The Authority remains committed to working with the Athletics; however, they believe there are pressing issues that must be addressed as negotiations continue.

“Yesterday, the Authority made an offer to keep the Athletics at O.co Coliseum that safeguarded city and county taxpayers while addressing the team’s concerns. Unfortunately, it took less than a few hours for them to reject that offer. Despite this, we are still committed to negotiating a fair deal,” said Coliseum Authority Chairman Nate Miley, who serves as an Alameda County Supervisor.

Among the issues cited by the Authority are that the Oakland Athletics owe the City and County more than $5 million because they have not been paying their rent for over five years. While the team is asking that this debt be written off, the Authority insists that this money could be used for public purposes such has hiring more police officers or funding public health services.

Additionally, the Athletics are demanding that the Authority give the team rent subsidies of $3.5 million per year. This is despite the team being an MLB franchise with a market value of nearly $1 billion.

Before anyone had a chance to make a green and gold “Y U NO PAY RENT?” meme, Athletics president Mike Crowley issued a response (also from Shea):

“First, we owe no back rent or any other amounts. We did deduct rent payments in the past for items that we are allowed under our lease, but that was our negotiated right.

Second, there is absolutely nothing in either our lease offer to them or their counter proposal to us that mentions any kind of subsidy. In fact, under our final offer we would immediately invest no less than $10 million in the facility and our rent would rise from the amounts that we have paid over the last decade.

We have nothing additional to offer and as a result there will be no further negotiations.”

With the Warriors earlier in the week announcing their intentions to build a new arena in San Francisco’s Mission Bay that would be ready for the 2018/19 season, the perception is that Oakland is under mounting pressure to keep the A’s and the Raiders in town. The plan that seems most feasible would keep both teams at the current Coliseum site. However, with the negotiations getting acrimonious and both sides throwing shade while the A’s and Rangers pitchers were throwing fastballs, this “update” from Bud Selig’s interview today at Wrigley Field is more than a little ominous.

If San Jose isn’t out of the question for the A’s, at the very least it looks like an unlikely option right now. There’s a chance both sides will put away the snippiness and get back to working on a lease extension — preferably without releasing statements while the team plays a division rival. But negotiations becoming both public and personal is never a recipe for a quick resolution.

(For those interested in what happened on the field, the A’s lost 3-0 this afternoon to finalize a series sweep for the Rangers, who now hold the best record in the AL West.)

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