Some hardball tactics from Alameda County as the A’s try to bolt for Las Vegas, with the county pointing out a fine-print clause in their contract that says the team is on the hook for $45 million if they ever decide to leave town.
About two weeks after Major League Baseball owners voted to allow the Oakland A’s to move to Las Vegas, Bay Area News Group columnist Daniel Borenstein discovered a minor contractual fine point that has major implications. Borenstein dug through the stadium contract between the Oakland A’s and Alameda County, an $85 million, seven-year deal. And the A’s have paid $40 million of that thus far. But Borenstein found language in the contract saying that the whole sum “shall become immediately due and payable to the County within one hundred eighty (180) days of the Athletics’ announcement of their relocation out of Oakland.”
And the A’s have announced their relocation, so it seems that remaining $45 million should, in fact, be due.
About a week after Borenstein’s article was published, the Chronicle reports that Alameda County is now demanding that money. Alameda County Board of Supervisors president Nate Miley sent a stern letter to A’s ownership Thursday demanding that the “accelerated payment obligation” be paid in full within the next six months.
The letter points out that the payment obligation “has been triggered. The County demands the full payment of the remaining $45 million in Annual Purchase Term Components by no later than May 14, 2024. This includes making the scheduled annual payment of $15 million on January 31, 2024.”
A little background: The Oakland Coliseum for years had been half-owned by the City of Oakland, and the other half owned by Alameda County (Hence the name Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum). But in 2019, Alameda sold its share to A’s owner John Fisher in the aforementioned $85 million, seven-year deal. And that contract did indeed have that accelerated payment obligation, so it looks like Alameda County may have a solid legal case here.
The Chronicle also notes that because of a separate lawsuit, the $40 million the A’s have already paid is sitting in escrow, and the county has not yet touched a penny of it.
So Alameda County’s angle here is probably not to get the unpaid $45 million. Their angle is likely to use that $45 million bill to persuade Fisher and the A’s to back out of that deal entirely, which would give them their half-ownership of the Coliseum back (and Fisher would get his $40 million back). After all, Fisher’s 50% stake still gives him veto power over any proposed alternative uses for the Coliseum, veto power that he has already used.
And it make little sense for Alameda County to have the owner of a Las Vegas-bound baseball team to have a say in what happens to an Oakland sports stadium.
Image: Oakland Arena