BOB: Oakland dealt setback in pursuit to keep Athletics

Oakland falls out of race to keep Athletics

The city of Oakland was dealt a blow in their attempt to keep the Oakland Athletics by courting them with a new stadium. With the Athletics still looking at San Jose, Oakland has tried to keep itself in the mix with a waterfront ballpark that’s now dead in the water. The reason is that the state of California is pulling back it’s redevelopment money, and the Oakland Redevelopment Agency is going to be dissolved. That’s where the money would have come from for a new ballpark.

It looks like the city now is going to refocus on building in and around the current Oakland Coliseum with a new ballpark being offered up to the Athletics. At this point, Oakland has to court MLB because it seems like the fate of the Athletics is in the league’s hands.

The city is going to take the first step by doing an environmental impact review, but the money to pay for that is also tied up, as well. With MLB still sitting on a decision as to how it will manage an Athletics relocation, it looks like there’s still some time for the city of Oakland to get its ducks in a row.

Dodgers’ bidder may buy stake in the Mets

Investor Steven Cohen, who has been listed as one of the suitors in the Los Angeles Dodgers sale, is close to buying a minority interest in the New York Mets. With the Mets desperate for cash, it’s looking like they’re keeping with their decision to bring in ten different $20 million investors, and they’re tapping Cohen for one of those ownership shares.

The buy-in by Cohen does not preclude Cohen from pursuing the Dodgers, but in the event he becomes an owner in Los Angeles, he’ll have to sell his stake in the Mets.

So if Cohen is one of the front runners to buy the Dodgers, that makes this little more than a loan. Cohen has come under some scrutiny because a couple of his former employees are facing insider trading violations, but MLB cleared him in their investigation, and no charges have been leveled at Cohen personally.

This also gives Cohen some leverage, because if he doesn’t land the Dodgers and the Mets ever go up for sale, he could be the favorite for a quick sale because he’s already been cleared by the league and has a stake in the team.

Wilpon and Katz look to expert witness to minimize damage money

In other Mets news, the owners of the team have their trial coming up with regard to their involvement in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Their lone expert witness is John Maine, who has said that investors like Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz would have had no reason to suspect Madoff and that they shouldn’t have to pay back any more than what they gained by pulling some of their money out earlier before the stuff hit the fan.

With that, Maine has come under some scrutiny. He was accused in one case of basically acting as a shill for his client and that he hadn’t even read any case law on the topic at hand. The judge in that instance also indicated that the written report wasn’t provided by Maine but was actually prepared by his client’s lawyer.

Irving Picard, the trustee in the Madoff scandal, also has attacked Maine, saying that his report lacked any principle or methodology and that Maine is too far removed from a full-time financial post.

Birmingham ballpark is named

The Birmingham Barons will have a new ballpark in 2013, and they recently sold the the naming rights to Regions Financial Corporation. When the ballpark opens, it will be called Regions Field.. Regions has been a sponsor of the Barons since 2007, and the new ballpark is set to be ready in downtown Birmingham for Opening Day in April, 2013.

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