Athletics offer to “assume control” of the Coliseum site from Oakland-Alameda

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Here’s a new twist in the never-ending saga that is the Oakland Athletics’ stadium search: the A’s have offered to purchase the Coliseum and the land on which it sits from the City of Oakland and Alameda County, California.

Well, not really “purchase it.”  Technically, they want to to “assume control of the Coliseum” in exchange for paying more than $135 million of city and county debt still owed on the stadium complex and property. The offer comes in the form of a letter sent Sunday by Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval, and which the A’s tweeted out a few hours ago (see below).

The A’s, Raiders and Golden State Warriors call the site home now, but the latter two teams are leaving for Las Vegas and San Francisco, respectively. That would leave the A’s as the sole sports tenants and, presumably, the acceptance of this offer would grant them development rights for the entire complex, which is roughly 120 acres and includes the Oracle Arena in which the Warriors currently play. That could serve as a massive source of revenue down the line. Notably, the right to develop real estate around a new ballpark was what started the A’s years-long stadium search off, back when they were hoping to move down to San Jose.

I have to applaud the Athletics for initiative here, but I’m struggling to think why Oakland-Alameda would agree to do this. The debt service notwithstanding, it’s very valuable land in an area with some of the highest real estate prices in the world. As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, the city has contemplated buying out the county’s half-ownership as it is, likely because there’s a ton of money to be made developing the site. There are also private developers not connected with the Athletics who have eyed the property too, no doubt thinking about all of the residential and commercial development which could be accomplished there. One would think that Oakland-Alameda could, if it so wanted to, sell the Coliseum property off for far more than the debt it carries and still get cash-in-pocket over and above that. After that, the land will still bring in tax revenue, whether it’s from the A’s and whatever it is they put on the land or whether someone builds, I dunno, an Ikea, a Top Golf complex and 1,000 condos.

No doubt this is part of the reason the city and county are so intent on the A’s looking at the Howard Terminal site mentioned in the letter. The A’s realize this too, as Kaval’s letter to Oakland acknowledges that it’s still looking at the Howard Terminal site, but highlights the challenges inherent in building there in terms of accessibility and transportation (which are legitimate issues with that site). To me it all seems like a very polite way of the A’s trying to pressure Oakland into giving them a sweetheart deal on the Coliseum site, with the most subtle suggestion that (a) it’s the only viable site left; and (b) if that doesn’t work out, well . . . maybe they move out of town entirely? Not that anyone has gone that far yet.

All very interesting, but unless I’m reading this really wrong, it strikes me that Oakland-Alameda giving the land up for debt service relief would be a tremendous gift that would serve as a far larger public subsidy of the Athletics than any voter in the region has seen fit to offer them or any other sports team in many, many years.

I suppose you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, but this seems like a shot that will miss.

 

 

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.