Bloomberg reporters Darrell Preston and Aaron Kuriloff wrote an article on the Oakland Raiders and the need for a new stadium in Oakland that was just plain terrible. In fact, it was was so bad, this blogger was compelled to write a letter on email that included everyone from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to Oakland Tribune Columnist Monte Poole.
The problem is the article didn’t talk about how a stadium can be built for the Raiders. Indeed, these talks started long ago. Here’s an example:
Here’s the email letter:
I just consumed the Bloomberg article on the Oakland Raiders and the issue of building a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-20/oakland-pays-17-million-for-nfl-raiders-as-cops-get-cut.html) I will cut to the chase: the work was just awful. It was the worst take on the matter, exhibiting a total lack of knowledge of stadium financing dynamics, or Oakland’s history in this matter.
What gives me the right to make those claims is my own history: I was Economic Adviser to Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris, and then under Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, I headed the effort to work to bring the 2005 Super Bowl to Oakland – we lost to Jacksonville.
In 1997 I appeared before the Oakland City Council’s Economic Development Committee to explain, then, that we needed a new stadium because what we created for the Raiders was not the state of the art – it was made to bring the Raiders back to Oakland, not to reach stadium design state-of-the-art. I said it would quickly become obsolete.
Then-Councilmember Nate Miley said “we just spent $197 million to being them back, and now you’re telling me this?” Yes. But then, I wasn’t in charge of the effort.
The problem with The Bloomberg article is that it does not explore the ways Oakland and The Raiders can build a stadium in Oakland. Moreover, it really looks like you all took every little factoid and threw it up against the wall to see what sticks.
In that, Bloomberg’s writers compared the Raiders Bond issue to the police costs – implying that the City of Oakland should default on Raiders’ bond payment obligations to pay for police. Even a student of public finance in HIGH SCHOOL knows that such a move would wreck Oakland’s credit rating and make any other effort to pay for services in the future that much harder. The trouble is, many lay people don’t know it and so the Bloomberg article becomes the blind leading the blind.
Did any one of the Bloomberg reporters stop to think? How about question their own work?
Also, the new stadium can be built via a combination of private investment bonds (consider the $1.7 billion just secured by Lennar in San Francisco via Chinese investors), stadium naming rights, seat and luxury box payments, sponsorships, and Mello-Roos legislation – the one item of “redevelopment” legislation in California that Gov. Jerry Brown missed because he and his staff didn’t understand the full implications of what they were doing in trying to kill redevelopment in California.
The stadium naming rights deal is the key – our Oakland Alameda County Coliseum Authority has consistenly failed to negotiate an agreement that reflects the true market value of such in the Bay Area – estimated as between $80 million and $200 million.
Instead, we have the same level of money from a deal now at $10 million that we had over 15 years ago. That should be grounds for termination of the people who run the Coliseum Authority, and gain the attention of The City Auditor. But in Oakland, we seem to be happy with what we get, so crap falls to our collective lap and we love it.
And the City Auditor ignores it.
In fact, why the hell didn’t Bloomberg talk to Oakland’s City Auditor about this issue at all? Again, that Courtney Ruby is not mentioned shows just how awful the work is.
Next time, when you really don’t know about something, do those of us who do a favor: don’t write about it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,