Athletics Skip $1.2M Coliseum Rent Payment Because They Have 'No Ability to Pay'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2020

A banner reads a welcome to Oakland Athletics fans at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Oakland, Calif. There will be empty ballparks on what was supposed to be Major League Baseball's opening day, with the start of the Major League Baseball regular season indefinitely on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot/Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics have not made their $1.2 million rent payment due on April 1 for use of the Coliseum because they are unable to pay, Coliseum Authority interim executive director Henry Gardner told David DeBolt of The Mercury News.

"They said because they haven't used it, they were not able to generate revenue and they have no ability to pay," Gardner said.

That payment is an annual one, though Gardner said negotiations could occur to help prevent the organization from facing additional late dues.

"We recognize that we've all been upended in a number of ways," he said "Maybe there are some things we are willing to negotiate and waive but we can't just say no rent."

Coliseum Authority board member Ignacio De La Fuente was less forgiving, saying the situation was "not the city's fault, not the county's fault or the state's fault. I'm going to make sure we do whatever we can to make them pay."

He added: "It's just an excuse to try to not pay when the city needs the money the most."

An attorney for the Athletics told DeBolt, however, that it's unknown if the stadium would be available to the team at this time, as it's possible it could be utilized as a coronavirus patient site.

Major League Baseball is currently on hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and if the sport returns, it is expected to be a shortened season without fans in the stands. That will further deplete the revenue the MLB and the Athletics generate, bad news for a franchise that is already the fifth-least valuable in the league, per Forbes.

Even if that's a factor in the Athletics missing rent, it's hard to imagine the city of Oakland won't push hard to recoup the $1.2 million it's owed.