Pleasanton resident Scott McKibben will step into the middle of the struggle to keep both the Raiders and the Athletics in Oakland when he assumes leadership of the agency that runs the Coliseum complex.
McKibben is the former president and publisher of ANG Newspapers (he was my ultimate boss when we worked there together). Scott returned to the Bay Area a couple of years ago when he took the chief executive job with the fledgling A11 Football League that is scheduled to begin play in 2016.
He will have his hands very full trying to bring together the pro teams and Alameda County and the city of Oakland. The county-city joint venture has an ongoing agreement with Floyd Kephart who is charged with developing a plan to build new stadiums for both baseball and football and finding a way to finance it without tapping taxpayer funds. It's a hefty job that has been made more challenging by the more than $100 million that is still owed on the upgrades to the Coliseum that were made after the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995 from Los Angeles.
Al Davis and his team negotiated an amazing deal to return to Oakland with the government-controlled agency taking full responsibility for selling tickets and seat licenses while he controlled the product put on the field. Both seat license sales and ticket sales were way under estimatesan outcome that still leaves a sour taste in the mouths of some elected officials as well as taxpayers.
The jobs of the politicians and McKibben got a bit more difficult last week when the Raiders and the San Diego Chargers announced a joint venture to build a new $1.7 billion stadium in Carson, which is south of downtown Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Rams' owner, Stan Kroenke, has announced a joint venture for the former Hollywood Park race track site that will include an 80,000-seat NFL stadium, a 6,000-seat performing arts venue and retail, office, and residential uses. Kroenke, a billionaire thanks to his real estate businesses, is one of the wealthiest NFL owners.
As a Los Angeles Times article observed, there have been numerous stadium proposals floated to bring a team or teams back to the nation's No. 2 television market, but there still is no hometown NFL team.
For all concerned, 2015 will be status quo in current stadiums, but Kroenke can shift to a year-to-year lease in St. Louis this year if he cannot reach an agreement for a new stadium.
That gives McKibben, Kephart and the politicians this year to nail down an agreement. It will be quite challenging to keep both teams on the existing site while developing enough other uses (office, retail and perhaps residential) to raise the money to build the new facilities.
McKibben, who led the ANG Newspapers back into the Tribune tower in downtown Oakland, knows the city and the sports teams well. He chaired the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and was involved with the effort to build an A's stadium downtown. After leaving ANG, he was the chief revenue officer for the Los Angeles Times and then moved on to a 2 ½-year stint running the Tournament of Roses.
He's a savvy businessman with an unusual commitment to serving the community. He will have his hands full trying to pull the public-private collaboration together to keep one or both teams.
A's owner Lou Wolff has actively pursued new stadiums south for the A's in both San Jose and Fremont. A side note: A friend who is a soccer fan said Wolff and his crew did a great job on the new privately-financed stadium for the Earthquakes in the South Bay. In his view, that was in sharp contrast to Levi's stadium.
Incidentally, McKibben got the coliseum job after labor unions objected to the commission's earlier choice of former Dublin Mayor and Assemblyman Guy Houston.