OAKLAND -- When Oakland leaders last March announced plans to transform the Coliseum complex into an entertainment center with new homes for all three of its sports teams, there were two big pieces missing: money to build the stadiums and buy-in from the teams.
Nearly one year later, little has changed when it comes to the still-unrealized Coliseum City project.
The A's ownership, still seeking Major League Baseball's permission to move the team to San Jose, refuses to even talk about building a new home in Oakland, city leaders said. And the Golden State Warriors are forbidden from doing the same under the terms of its agreement to move to San Francisco.
That leaves the Raiders.
Oakland's football team has met frequently with city and Alameda County officials. But those talks have yet to produce a plan to build a football stadium that won't devour taxpayer money like the deal two decades ago that returned the team from Los Angeles.
Moreover, the Raiders can't depend on the NFL chipping in for a new stadium in Oakland, as it did for the 49ers in Santa Clara, unless the team generates more fan and corporate support, City Administrator Deanna Santana and Assistant City Administrator Fred Blackwell told stadium boosters at a gathering Monday evening.
They said that the league is concerned with the gulf between what the 49ers have been able to charge for premium seating at its future stadium and what the Raiders have been
"We're not going to make that up overnight, but we've got to show some type of progress," Blackwell said.
Premium seating is an important revenue stream for NFL stadium construction.
When asked Tuesday if the NFL had committed to help finance a Raiders stadium in Oakland, league spokesman Greg Aiello responded that the team "can apply for league loans of up to $200 million."
Raiders CEO Amy Trask declined to address whether the team needed to shore up community and corporate support before seeking financing help from the league.
Oakland's bid to keep its teams, all of whom want modern stadiums with more revenue-producing premium seating, is hampered by a lack of public money and no shortage of irony.
While business leaders are eager to hold on to the A's and their 81 home games -- preferably in a new waterfront stadium near Jack London Square -- the team's ownership has no interest in sticking around.
"Just to be frank, Lew Wolff won't talk to us," Blackwell told Monday's gathering, which was sponsored by the fan group Save Oakland Sports.
Reached Tuesday, Wolff said the team had already looked at all the potential stadium sites in Oakland and couldn't make any of them work financially.
The Raiders want to stay, but haven't had business leaders rally to their side. And with just 10 home games a season, the club is hardly the ideal primary tenant for an entertainment center that needs to be buzzing most nights of the week.
Earlier this month, the Raiders announced that they would tarp over about 10,000 seats to help induce sellout crowds.
The trouble when it comes to keeping the Raiders is that the only proven model for limiting public funding of NFL stadiums that now cost $1 billion is for fans and businesses to pay top dollar for luxury suites and the right merely to purchase season tickets.
While that appears to be working so far for the 49ers in Santa Clara, where fans are paying $80,000 for the best seats in the house, it was a disaster for city and county taxpayers when the Raiders moved back to Oakland in 1995.
Lackluster sales of so-called personal seat licenses forced the public to cover the costs of renovating the Coliseum for the Raiders return. The city and county continue to pay about $10 million apiece every year to pay off stadium bonds. For Oakland, that money could have paid for about 60 more police officers.
About $100 million is still owed on the Coliseum bonds, which presents a major hurdle to redeveloping the site, Santana said.
Oakland officials approved spending $3.5 million last year to move forward with Coliseum City. While the project hasn't reached any milestones so far, city officials say they have made progress with the Raiders and soon expect to have tangible results.
A site plan for the 750-acre project, which includes rezoning adjacent land for biotech uses, is slated to be completed by the end of this year. Also the joint city-county board that oversees the Coliseum recently commissioned a $500,000 study on how to fund stadiums on the site with minimal public contributions.
"We are very passionate about keeping the teams, but we are very passionate and adamant about not letting that get us into a bad deal," Blackwell said.
Fans at Monday's gathering remained optimistic that Oakland will remain a Big League city. "All we can do is try to galvanize support and convince the teams that Oakland and the East Bay are the best places for them," Save Oakland Sports member Jim Zelinski said. Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.