2013 Offseason Mailbag #3: Coliseum Lease and New Video Boards

Debt service in full view - Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Today's mailbag question is about video boards at the Coliseum as it relates to a future lease extension

It seems I read somewhere that if the A's re-up there lease at the Coliseum that a modern scoreboard might be installed. The Warriors have had two different hi-def boards in the arena in the last 7-8 years, and they have made it clear they want to leave Oakland. Why has the stadium been so neglected when they have two tenants?
Finley's Mule

Dear Mr. Mule,

Your question covers a lot of issues. I have no special expertise or inside information, but I have had a number of conversations with A's Front Office people and I have inferred the following:

The only way the A's would get a new scoreboard (or video board) is by signing a long-term lease with Oakland Coliseum and that will happen the day after Hell freezes over. The Oakland Coliseum isn't going to replace anything for a mere two-year lease which is what the A's seem to want.

The A's have tried to get new video boards, offering to front the money for the installation. But they want to be reimbursed for their outlay through rent credits. The Coliseum Authority cannot afford that. The Raiders could chip in, I suppose. From what I understand, however, the Raiders don't chip in for anything.

I suspect the Warriors negotiated their Hi-Def boards as part of a longer lease deal for the Arena. The Coliseum Authority was no doubt more cooperative because the Warriors had been steady, long-term, profitable tenants. Of course, that was then, and this is now.

Which leads me to the last part of your inquiry.

The Coliseum has been neglected because the Coliseum Authority has no money, the practical result of its keen management strategy of giving away the store for decades. Yes, the Coliseum has two tenants and they, theoretically, should provide enough dough to accommodate building improvements. But that assumes the tenants have been paying adequate rent. That is not the case.

Without a lengthy historical or political analysis, I'll just say this: Since the Raiders return from Los Angeles, the A's and the Raiders have essentially double-teamed the Coliseum to gain a series of very favorable lease deals. (The Raiders...don't get me started!) Without adequate rents, the Authority has attempted to cover the financial drain by borrowing. Well, we all know how that story ends. The revenue the Coliseum does get covers debt service and admin costs. There is nothing left over for property improvements. The Authority is broke, its worn-out facilities are probably beyond restoration, and all its tenants are trying to leave town, anyway.

A cautionary tale if ever there was one.

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