OAKLAND -- Despite Mayor Jean Quan's assertion on a sports radio program, the crown prince of Dubai has not partnered with developers to build sports stadiums and an entertainment center at the Oakland Coliseum complex, city officials said Friday.
Oakland's mayor caused a stir Thursday during an interview on 95.7 The Game when she announced that developers working on Coliseum City "are partnered literally with the prince of Dubai, who is next in line to lead Dubai. And they have capital."
Quan refused to discuss her comments Friday, but acknowledged through her spokesman, Sean Maher, that the crown prince had not partnered on the deal.
Maher said one of the developers does have connections to high-ranking officials in Dubai, "but that the crown prince of Dubai is not involved in the Coliseum project."
The crown prince of Dubai, an oil-rich Persian Gulf emirate, is 31-year-old Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. His father, the ruling emir, Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has a net worth in excess of $4 billion, according to Forbes.
The inclusion of Dubai's future ruler would have lent credence to the mayor's claims about the viability of the multibillion-dollar development, which could include new stadiums for both the Oakland Raiders and Oakland A's, as well as a hotel, shops and homes.
The mayor has come under fire for misrepresenting crime stats and Oakland police staffing, but city officials fear this mistake could complicate a major project.
"You just don't throw the crown prince's name out there and say he's in a deal when he's not," said Councilman Larry Reid, who sits on the coliseum's oversight board."I think it makes it harder for the people who are shopping the deal out there and trying to save these sports franchises."
City leaders discussed Quan's comments Friday with its development partners. They were told to be "as careful as possible in terms of not wanting to overstate where we are before we're there," City Administrator Fred Blackwell said.
Quan unveiled the Coliseum City concept two years ago in hopes of drumming up private investment for new sports facilities to keep Oakland's three teams from moving elsewhere.
For a year, there was little progress, but last October, the city signed up a new development team composed of Colony Capital, the world's third largest private real estate company, and Hayah Holdings, a firm headed by Dubai-based businessman Rashid Al Malik.
On the radio show Thursday, Quan indicated that the crown prince of Dubai was partnered with Hayah.
It is unusual for the crown prince's name to be brought up in connection with business activities, said Jim Krane, a Persian Gulf Specialist at Rice University's Baker Institute.
"If this was something he wanted to keep quiet for some reason, it might not have been appropriate to use his name," Krane said.
Even with an infusion of cash from the Middle East, Coliseum City would face many challenges. In an interview last month, Blackwell said that a proposed Raiders stadium faces a $500 million to $600 million funding shortfall. And, at this point, the A's only want a long-term lease extension while still hoping to get Major League Baseball's permission to move to San Jose.
The project is predicated on private developers being able to make enough money from hotel, housing and retail development to offset the costs of the stadiums. Economists have been dubious about its viability, and the city has turned to the Persian Gulf region, where, Krane said, governments have been willing to bankroll unprofitable projects that improve their reputation in the U.S.
Krane said Dubai is less willing than some of its wealthier neighbors such as Qatar and Abu Dhabi, to finance the most financially questionable projects. He also said a lot of people in the region misrepresent themselves as having access to top officials.
"I would take all this stuff with a bit of skepticism," he said. "These countries' governments sign (deals) all the time that don't go anywhere. That said, they do build a lot of crazy projects that other folks in the world would never touch."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.