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The more things change, the more they stay the same

Sometimes it pays to go through the archives and revisit old stories to see what has and hasn't changed. In Oakland, not much is different since January 2000 when the city was having problems with Major League Baseball's A's and the National Football League's Raiders. Oakland was having problems with Chris Cohan and the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors.

The Oakland A's and the Golden State Warriors have new owners and the Raiders are now controlled by a group that includes the late Al Davis's son Mark. The problems of 2000 have not been fixed. The A's present owner Lew Wolff would like to move his team to the San Jose area but is blocked by the San Francisco Giants ownership, a group that says it has territorial rights to San Jose despite losing public stadium financing referendums twice in the area and the map. San Francisco is much closer to the A's present home in Oakland than San Jose. The Giants and A's are tied to Comcast for cable TV and share the market anyway but Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and his associates cannot figure that out.

Wolff has not yet signed a lease extension to stay in Oakland but has almost no options to go elsewhere.

The Warriors new ownership is looking to move to San Francisco but may leave the door open just a bit in the event the ownership cannot get the various layers of government approval needed to construct a waterfront arena.

The Raiders lease with the city is short term and even if the Raiders management and city officials wanted to build a new stadium in the Oakland Coliseum/Arena parking lot, there is a problem. Who is responsible for paying off the debt of the bonds for the present stadium if that stadium is razed?

Like the A's, in the short term, Raiders management has few options available in terms of relocation. The proposed AEG stadium deal in Los Angeles does not make any sense financially to any present NFL owner.

Very little has changed in Oakland since 2000. From the archives, January 17, 2000.

These are not easy times to be a fan of the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Raiders and Oakland A's; as legal battles were brewing at the venues of all three Bay area clubs.

The Raiders and A's might bolt from the Network Associates Coliseum.
Meanwhile, the Warriors and the Joint Powers Authority, a public board that runs, the New Oakland Arena, (JPA) will plead their cases before an arbitrator on Wednesday over the Warriors lack of rent payments during the lockout from last season.

At least, the Warriors are not looking to move.

But the NBA team is embroiled in a fight over back rent. The arena authority wants back rent for missed games due to the 1998-99 NBA lockout. Golden State ownership contends they don't have to pay the rent because they didn't play any games

it’s hardly the only legal fight between the team and arena landlord. The Warriors, according to a source close to the public board, promised to pay some of the construction costs to rebuild the old Oakland Coliseum Arena by selling Personal Seat Licenses.

But then, the' Warriors announced they weren't selling PSLs and were going to raise ticket prices, the source said. The team said the franchise could not contribute because there were no PSLs sold. The JPA was awarded $17·million by an arbitrator last fall.

Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown is not involved. He remains powerless because the Joint Powers Authority, which is made up of two county supervisors and two Oakland city council members, has the jurisdiction over the Coliseum and the New Arena.

Brown through a spokesperson last week; declined to comment.

Neither the Warriors, nor members of the JPA commented on the back rent case.

Another courtroom showdown is slated for the Raiders and the coliseum.

The Raiders and the old Coliseum, Inc., entity which negotiated the deal to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, will meet in a Sacramento courthouse in April. The legal fight between the Raider and Oakland/Alameda County began in September 1997 when the two municipalities joined forces to sue the Raiders to get owner AI Davis to stop saying he could move again.

The Raiders countersued 10 months later.

The Raiders returned to Oakland after they say they were given assurances that all Personal Seat Licenses in the renovated Oakland Coliseum were sold out The Raiders are seeking $800 million in damages and say they were ''duped" into moving back to their old home.

Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente was unimpressed with the Raiders suit.

"They are just playing games."

The Raiders wanted to stay in the Los Angeles area and thought they had a deal in place to build a stadium next to the Hollywood Park Racetrack.

According to a Raiders official, NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue promised to award five Super Bowls to be played over 10 years to Al Davis once the Hollywood Park facility was built

"Finally, having gotten us back to Oakland, they celebrated by suing us. The NFL then began the great taffy pull," said a Raiders source close to the team's negotiations with the league and LA. "It then became three then two. Finally, the second Super Bowl was conditional, and we had to agree to take a second team, through expansion or relocation.

"The Commissioner initially agreed to contribute $20 million towards construction, then reneged, and then agreed to make a $20 million loan. Of course, they scotched the loan," the source said. "This meant the Raiders would sell Personal Seat Licenses to cover that amount."

The A's, which remained in playoff contention for-most of the 1999 season despite a paltry player payroll, remain in limbo.

Co-owners Ken Hoffman and Steven Schott thought they had a deal to sell the team for $122 million to a group headed up by Save Mart owner Bob Piccinini last summer.

Under terms of a renegotiated lease with the Coliseum, the owners could put the team up for sale in 1999 but had to offer it to local buyers until September 15.

Piccinini's group, which was headed by Andy Dolich, presented its case before Major League Baseball during meetings last September. But the owners tabled the proposal.

Commissioner Bud Selig said no action would be taken on the proposed sales of both Oakland and fellow weak American League sister Kansas City until a so-called ''Blue Ribbon Task Force" did a study on baseball's economic problems.

That report was supposed to be done by this month. But no report has been released, and both the Oakland and Kansas City groups have dropped out of the bidding for the teams.

One person connected to the A's is convinced the Lords of Baseball tabled the deal because they are waiting to see if Microsoft co-founder Paul. Allen and Portland will put together a stadium deal to lure the A's.

That way they could have their superstar owner," he said, referring to the billionaire Allen, who owns the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trailblazers

Under the terms of the revised Coliseum deal with the A's, the owners could sell the team to an outside group who could move after the 2001 season.

The renegotiated lease gives the A's a rent-free stadium and lowered utility costs.

The A's already get all of the ticket, parking and concession revenue from the park and have received about $12 million in payouts from Oakland and Alameda for compensation as a result-of the Raiders returning.

Last week, the Alameda County Board rejected a deal to keep the A's through 2003 at the stadium/ The board refused to give the club $300,000 in marketing money in exchange for a two-year lease extension.

"It just wasn't the $300,000,'' said Alameda County Supervisor Mary King. ''There were other things in it that I did not think was necessary, such as ''if a group tried to buy the A's sued, we'd have to stand by the A's.''

Schott responded by saying the board's decision was "kind of a slap in the face. I'm not a threatening person but maybe I should think of selling."
Schott did sell. Paul Allen never did try to get a team in Portland. Cohan sold his team too. All three teams remain in Oakland but all want new facilities. Oakland doesn't really have much money to spend on building new facilities. Something will have to give soon. None of the owners are going to wait another 13 years in Oakland without new facilities and the likelihood of Oakland continue to house three teams seems to be rather slim.

Evan Weiner can be reached at evanjweiner@gmail.com. His e-book, "The Business and Politics of Sports, Second Edition" is available at www.bickley.com and Amazon.com and another e-book, America's Passion: How a Coal Miner's Game Became the NFL in the 20th Century is available at www.smashwords.com, iTunes, nook, kobo, Sony reader and Diesel.

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