The world’s third-largest privately held real estate firm and a wealthy Dubai financier are teaming up to invest in Coliseum City, providing renewed energy and credibility for Oakland’s attempt to redevelop the current Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment center.
The Oakland Tribune’s Matthew Artz broke this story last night.
The investors are Colony Capital LLC, which manages investments totaling $32 billion, and Rashid Al Malik, a wealthy investor. The two will form the Bay Investment Group, LLC, with Al Malik and Colony set to be part of Oakland’s planning and feasibility team for the Coliseum complex.
More significantly, the group would like to take the lead in redeveloping the Coliseum complex, which is currently surrounded entirely by parking lots — cut off from surrounding neighborhoods.
Mayor Jean Quan has stated her desire for a family-oriented venue with a bowling alley, roller-skating rink, shops, bars, homes and a high-end hotel.
“I’m thrilled,” Quan said about the new investment team. “They are very successful and they have very deep pockets, so they can probably afford to do the project exactly how we would like it.”
Colony CEO Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. said the following in a prepared statement.
We are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work in partnership with the City of Oakland (and) Rashid Al Malik … to develop this unique property, which we expect will become a transformational and vital urban, residential sports and entertainment center for this city.
This is an exciting turn of events for a plan that has recently looked dead in the water. It originally envisioned privately-financed new homes for all three of Oakland’s sports teams, even the Golden State Warriors, which have proposed building a new home in San Francisco, and the Oakland A’s, which still yearn for San Jose. It also calls for the development of a technology district near the Oakland International Airport.
The original plan covered 800 acres on both sides of Interstate 880 with facilities for all three teams; officials said the project could still be viable with only one or two new stadiums — with the Raiders being the most likely sports partner.
Colony owns Miramax films, the Fairmont hotel chain, and it recently owned Paris St. Germain, a well-known soccer team. The firm’s involvement gives the entire undertaking a new sense of credibility. Robert Bland, New York University’s academic chair of sports business, said so explicitly.
“When you think of Colony Capital and its hotel properties, its casino properties and its entertainment investments, this kind of project would have some resonance.”
The forthcoming study will investigate the market for a new Raider stadium at the Coliseum site. Owner Mark Davis and a private consultant hired by the city have both said the market would only support a roughly 58,000-seat stadium at the Coliseum site, but Mayor Quan is concerned a smaller NFL stadium would not attract a Super Bowl or support the entire entertainment district.
“Our team feels that the market can support something bigger than that,” said Ed McFarlan, a principal of JRDV Architects, which is among several firms working on the project. “If we’re going to privately finance a stadium, it needs to be a multipurpose entertainment venue.”
The City Council still must approve the new investors and agree to extend the planning team’s exclusive negotiating agreement, expiring later this month.
The council is scheduled to discuss the project today in private. A public discussion on extending the negotiating period and bringing aboard the new investors is scheduled for Oct. 8.
While nothing is concrete, and it’s certainly a long way from Dubai to Oakland, this has to be some of the most encouraging news on this development project in quite some time.