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Oakland City Attorney supports Lease Extension/Dave Newhouse

OAFC BBS - All Topics: Archive: Oakland City Attorney supports Lease Extension/Dave Newhouse
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 04:58 pm:

http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1413,82%257E1748%257E,00.html

Oakland's fight to save A's should start with a new lease
THERE'S ONLY one way for Oakland to end all contraction rumors regarding the A's, and that's to work out a lease extension with the team.

That's the advice of Oakland's top legal voice, City Attorney John Russo.

"It definitely helps us fight contraction," Russo said of an extension. "It could give us an argument -- I'm not sure how strong it is -- that gives us an action (legally) to show Major League Baseball that it would be interfering with our business."

What business?

"We now have a written contract with the A's, but if it's broken (possibly through contraction), the A's aren't paying us anything," Russo said. "The city and county are receiving no revenues from the A's."

The A's, in fact, have been playing rent free at Network Associates Coliseum since 1997.

"The extension we're talking about," Russo continued, "provides revenues back to the city and county."

And once that lease extension is agreed upon, if Bud Selig tries to contract the A's, he would be interfering with a business arrangement. A signed agreement.

"This gives us a legal hook," Russo emphasized.

Thus the importance of an extension is that it gives Oakland protection against losing its major league baseball franchise. This protection isn't absolute, Russo reiterated, because it's nearly impossible to predict how some judge may rule on a legal matter.

But Russo believes Oakland and Alameda County mustn't sit and wait for talk of contraction simply to fade away. He recommends two courses of action.

"First," he said, "I would immediately retain attorneys as specialists, to look at antitrust issues (in baseball). Second, we would look at every expressed or implicit promise that Oakland made to baseball ... to get us to support (the A's), to build the Coliseum."

The second action would be harder to prove than the first. For when construction began on the Coliseum, the Kansas City A's weren't specifically on Oakland's wish list in terms of luring a big league baseball franchise. The Coliseum was built in the mid-1960s, primarily, to keep the Raiders from moving. And we know how that turned out.

"Here's the truth," Russo said. "We don't have a legal contract with baseball. I'm not sure how we'd get it done. At the end, there may be no legal remedy regarding antitrust. We'd have to fashion a legal remedy, and I may not be that optimistic."

But would Oakland, like Minnesota, aggressively try to prevent contraction?

"What happened in Minnesota," Russo said, "is that they went to a state judge to get an injunction (against Major League Baseball). I don't know how valid that is, but Governor (Jesse) Ventura made a deal on a stadium issue. I see that as a holding action; the lawyers held the dike up until the judge came in with a decision.

"We are a very aggressive office. This office wouldn't take a move to contract lying down. But I don't also want to fib to you that we can do this and that. We're not sporting for a fight with Major League Baseball. Our relationship with them is better than ever."

Russo pointed out that Bob DuPuy, Selig's top lieutenant, told Oakland that baseball is happy with the progress the city has made toward a new ballpark. That was a month ago. The ballpark plan now is in a holding pattern as Oakland weighs the possibility of building a stick-and-podium housing project -- in other words, cheap housing -- on the downtown ballpark site.

"It may be that we won't get the ballpark done in the confines of Oakland," Russo said. "I think (Alameda County Board of Supervisors president) Scott Haggerty is doing a good job by saying the county needs to be a player. Scott's been criticized (for trying to effect a lease extension with the A's on his own), but it's good to know here's a public official who sees the A's as a regional asset. That's something we didn't have a year ago."

Nevertheless, Fremont doesn't want the A's, who shouldn't play anywhere but in Oakland regardless. That's how important a lease extension is, for there can't be a new ballpark without one.

And without an extension, contraction talk won't ever die. But with an extension and a ballpark, the A's will be playing in Oakland when Eric Chavez is a great-grandfather.

Dave Newhouse can be reached at

510-208-6466 or by e-mail at

dnewhouse@angnewspapers.com

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By eyleenn on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 05:14 pm:

Nice words from Newhouse and Russo. Note that Russo didn't say anything about the out clause.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By rono on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 07:06 pm:

It's because he is assuming there will be no out clause. He is trying to fight contraction which you cannot do with an out in the lease.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 07:25 pm:

John Russo knows all about the out clause of the lease. He has been at all the JPA discussions re this lease from the start.

I have to disagree that the out clause was what stopped the Twins contraction process.

If you go read all the articles, not once do you read that the judges mentioned the absence of the out clause as the reason contraction was stopped.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By rono on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 10:18 pm:

PLLLLLLLLLease!!!!!!!!!! They don't mention an out clause because there wasn't any. Thet had a one year lease which they couldn't get out of,hence they had to play this season meaning they could not be contracted with the EXPOS this year. They can be contracted next year.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Thursday, June 06, 2002 - 10:54 pm:

please read:

http://espn.go.com/mlb/news/2002/0606/1391571.html

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By jeffreyb on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 09:51 am:

that's the second time you've pointed to the same article...a recap of current conditions. if you want to point to relevant news go back to the ones at the time the judge issued the injunction.

what does that link have to do with the price of tea in China???

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By rono on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 10:36 am:

Yes, this agreement came out after my last post. This one year lease saved them for one year and their persistence gave them one more. They don't have a new owner or the private money for the new stadium which is the same thing that can be said for the A's. Under this arrangement the whole issue can be opened every year which is the case with the current A's lease. If we are going to be stadium building we can't be reopening the deal every year or every 90-days. Otherwise MLB will play one city off against another to keep grinding out the deals. It is for this very reason that we need a fiem 5-year lease extension with no outs even if the current no rent deal. Believe you do not want to keep reopening the deal with the A's owners and MLB every 90-days or each year.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 10:38 am:

The reason the Twins got their injunction has NOTHING to do with the not having an OUT CLAUSE.

It has EVERYTHING to do with the on going negotiations over a ballpark. The contraction threat was deamed prejudicial and interfered with their ability to do business. That was what Russo also mentioned in his comments to Newhouse.

Why don't you post something that proves YOUR POINT then?

Post a paragraph where the judge states the absence of an out clause was the reason he granted the injunction.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 10:39 am:

Here is Russo's quote:

"It definitely helps us fight contraction," Russo said of an extension. "It could give us an argument -- I'm not sure how strong it is -- that gives us an action (legally) to show Major League Baseball that it would be interfering with our business."

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By jeffreyb on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 10:45 am:

it's hard to know where to begin to sort thru your confusion.

start with the fact that your cited article is a settlement of the case now, months after the injunction.

the twins argued that since the injunction was issued, the case was moot as they had the right to shut down after the lease was done. the judge denied that, and said the interfernce with contract claim, the type Russo's talking about, was still valid. this has lead to the settlement.

to discuss why the judge granted the injunction, you need to look back at news at the time of the injunction.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By diamond_lil on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 11:11 am:

yeah, right...my confusion

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By eyleenn on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 06:03 pm:

The ESPN article linked above is not old. It's from yesterday. It reports that the Twins will continue to play in 2003. It had previously been adjudicated that they could not get out of their lease for 2002. This extends the situation one more year.

It remains to be seen if Dr. Evil will insist on contracting an AL team in 2003, along with the Expos -- unless, of course, the Expos move to D.C.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By eyleenn on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 06:09 pm:

From rono's post above: "If we are going to be stadium building we can't be reopening the deal every year or every 90-days."

Unless some kind of agreement for a new ballpark is reached, there may not be a lease extension. If a framework for a new park is developed and the owners make a sufficient commitment, it won't matter if the lease remains year to year.

IMHO.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By rono on Friday, June 07, 2002 - 11:52 pm:

Having negotiated leases for 28 years, I shudder to think how these issues can be resolved without the "sufficient committment" Eyleen mentions. There will never be a resolution until there is a committment Unfortunately, you probably have never had to negotiate with anyone like Schott or Hofmann. In the last seven years we have seen how they have constantly played with the lease to the point that it has effectively no term remaining and they pay nothing. Unfortunately we need to be firm with the owners while still being generous. It's ok to develop plans for $400 million stadium but don't do any thing else until you have a long term committment in years and dollars upfront and no outs. Otherwise you end up with another Raiders deal. 30-year bonds supported by a 15 year lease with absolutely no contribution from the team. Without an up front committment to the coliseum for five years with or without rent we will be in Minnesota's shoes,having to depend on the courts to keep the deal and the ball rolling. The only way to deal with Schott and Hofmann is to nail them to the wall up front. Its a new ball game now. If you want a new stadium from the city and/or county and a likely $300 million plus subsidy you committ for five years at trivial or no rent as they have had up to now. No outs, no renegotiations,period. Got it???Be prepared to walk away. it's a great negotiaring tool.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of pageLink to this message   By jeffreyb on Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 09:38 am:

i agree.

Fans and taxpayers are in a difficult position. we want our team to stay. we want our stadium. but we cannot sell the idea to non-fans (the taxpayers) unless a delicate balance is achieved that somehow results in perceived fairness.

this is why fan groups should be walking a delicate line, not just slavishly supporting any deal the A's cook up with a naive county supervisor.


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