An Ending to Oakland’s Stadium Issues May Hinder Quan’s Mayoral Challengers

ELECTION 2014 | OAKLAND | MAYOR | When it comes to Oakland sports, Mayor Jean Quan has a lot to crow about. While she’s not exactly tooting her own praises in a manner reminiscent of, say, Richard Sherman, she’s saying enough to remind voters, if you want professional sports in Oakland, she’s the one to get it done. It also helps that the unpredictable political winds have been at her back on this issue. The A’s, largely the victim of their own miscalculations, are stuck in Oakland, as are the Warriors, and the Raiders remain distinctly O-positive about staying in The Town. At yet another Save Oakland Sports events she has attended in recent months, Quan said—as if the long stadium saga in Oakland had concluded, “Nobody gave us a chance for keeping even one team. I think we’re going to keep all of our teams, at least, to the end of this decade.”

Quan again reiterated her bold statement predicting the Raiders will sign an agreement for a new stadium at the Coliseum by the summer. In fact, the comment is not just a prediction for the future of the NFL in the East Bay, but her own. Imagine a warm summer afternoon in the near future with Quan, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Raiders owner Mark Davis, with his bangs freshly-cut, standing before a silver and black backdrop to announce a new stadium agreement. The press coverage would be overwhelmingly positive and the one-issue voters of Oakland would forever thank Quan for her effort, likely with a second term.

Such an event is a political game changer, add similar announcements from the A’s and Warriors and it’s a landslide. In addition, there is not a single candidate in the race who is particularly opposed to keeping the sports team. All merely want to limit the amount of public money used to build the newest cathedrals of sport. Conversely, candidates like Libby Schaaf, Bryan Parker, Dan Siegel and Joe Tuman cannot wholly root for such a positive news story breaking just months before the November election, especially one that would make it very difficult for each of them to unseat the incumbent.

Tuman, also attended Thursday’s Save Oakland Sports event at the Oakland Airport Hilton. His position is similar to Quan. He supports the concept of Coliseum City and describes the Howard Terminal waterfront ballpark for the A’s in similar glowing terms. While Tuman, who was a Raiders season ticket holder in the late 1970s, say he would not help wealthy team owners build stadiums with public money, he told The Citizen municipal bonds could be issued for improvements to the transportation infrastructure in and around both potential sites, even a proposal for light rail to ferry fans to Howard Terminal. Tuman says he has no problem with helping the project move along quicker by expediting the permit processes and rezoning land. “To some voters this is as an important issue as public safety,” said Tuman, who has framed his candidacy around lowering crime and hiring more cops. “In some ways it’s a more pleasant conversation.”

When asked if the positive resolution of the Oakland stadium issues could seriously impede his campaign, Tuman was candid. “Frankly, it would be better for our city if all these things happen. If that’s my political fortune and that’s the price for the city being better, I can live with that. I would not be bitter.”