Friday, November 13, 2015

Schaaf: I’m Not Proposing to Put Taxpayers’ Money at Risk with Raiders Stadium

By Steven Tavares
Fri, Nov 13, 2015 at 5:01 PM

click to enlarge coliseum_city_new_plans.jpg
In a lengthy statement released Friday afternoon, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf pushed back against a news report suggesting that she is reversing a long-standing position against using taxpayer money to build a new stadium for the Raiders.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Friday that Schaaf’s presentation earlier this week to National Football League owners included a proposal for the city examine the possibility of using lease revenue bonds to help pay for a stadium. The news report also noted that Schaaf is considering the use of tax increment proceeds as a stadium financing tool.

In the past, Schaaf has consistently ruled out helping the Raiders build a new stadium on the public’s dime, although she has pledged up to $120 million for improving the infrastructure surrounding the future stadium.

“Since I took office I have been nothing but clear about how I believe Oakland can responsibly keep its sports teams without publicly subsidizing stadium construction. My position is unchanged. The San Francisco Chronicle’s suggestion that I would be willing to put public money at risk is simply not true,” said Schaaf in a 685-word statement.

“I am focused on responsibly keeping our teams in Oakland, which is why I am also open to exploring the use of dollars that could be created by a new project — money that the City would not otherwise have. I think that it would be appropriate to pledge money that is created by the Raiders for the Raiders so long as it can be done without ever putting the taxpayers at risk. But that’s it. I will not recreate the mistakes of the past in Oakland.”

Much of Schaaf’s statement, however, does not actually contradict to the Chronicle’s report, which noted that she believes that various funding mechanisms could be crafted without jeopardizing public money. Instead, the mayor’s strong reaction may have more to do with the story's online headline: “Oakland Mayor Schaaf toots a new tune: a publicly funded stadium.” A sports economist in the article also asserts that bonding for the project puts the city’s treasury at risk.
 
Numerous media reports described Schaaf’s presentation in New York City on Wednesday as effective. NFL owners are expected to decide by early next year whether the Raiders, the San Diego Chargers, and/or the St. Louis Rams will be allowed to move to Los Angeles.

Oakland, though, was the only city of the three that did not present a detailed public financing proposal to the league this week. Instead, Schaaf portrayed the East Bay market as a growing economic engine and one that could prosper in a region that the Raiders no longer share with the San Francisco 49ers, because of that team’s move to the South Bay last season.

There was also movement this week on a possible new facility for the Oakland A’s. While in New York City, Schaaf reportedly met with Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to discuss a new ballpark for the team in Oakland. Also, on Friday, the Oakland Tribune reported that A’s ownership is eyeing locations in Oakland other than the Coliseum complex. The news will likely reignite hopes for bringing the team downtown or possibly to waterfront property just north of Jack London Square known as the Howard Terminal. Schaaf supports a move downtown and it has been the city’s preferred location going back to former Mayor Jean Quan.

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