Billionaire A’s owner John Fisher appears to be taking a cue from struggling East Bay residents and calling for his own rent strike.
Fisher, whose family owns The Gap, notified the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority on Mar. 31 that the team would not be paying its $1.2 million rent for use of the stadium, according to several reports.
The letter from the A’s general counsel to the stadium authority is unclear about whether the A’s will not pay rent because of covid-19, whether they intend to defer payment, or will negotiate a deal if and when baseball returns to the Coliseum this season.
The A’s argument for withholding payment is simple. Because of covid-19 and the suspension of the Major League Baseball season last March, the A’s have not used the facility.
But the A’s letter also references the possible use of the Coliseum complex as a staging area for a surge in covid-19 patients, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Indeed, Alameda County officials said at the time the Army Corps of Engineers had identified the Coliseum complex and the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton as possible overflow medical facilities for covid-19 patients.
But the surge in cases in Alameda County has yet to materialize, although county health officials predict an increase in covid-19 cases sometime in August.
The Coliseum complex, though, is partially being used for a small fleet of FEMA trailers to house the unsheltered.
Meanwhile, the decision to stop making rent payments due to the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn is nothing new to the Fisher family.
The Gap, which has struggled financially in recent years, stopped making rent payments on all of its retail clothing stores in April, in addition, to furloughing 80,000 employees, CNN reported.