The A's deferred a $1.2 million rent payment due to the Oakland Coliseum last month because they couldn't use the stadium, the team said in a statement Tuesday.
The payment was due April 1 as part of the team's annual agreement to use the Coliseum. In a statement provided to NBC Sports California, the A's said the Coliseum Authority "has been unable to make the Coliseum available for use by the A's" and that the team deferred payment as a result.
"The A’s sent notice to the JPA in March stating the Club is in support of these public health efforts and would defer annual rent payment, given the building was not available for use by the organization, per provisions in the contract," the statement read. "The A's look forward to when the City and County feel it is safe to lift current directives, and the A's are granted access to the facility to play baseball."
Henry Gardener, the Coliseum Authority's interim executive director, said earlier Tuesday that A's executives claimed the team had "no ability to pay."
“They said because they haven’t used it, they were not able to generate revenue and they have no ability to pay,” Gardner told Bay Area News Group's David DeBolt on Tuesday.
Oakland banned events of 1,000-plus people on March 11, and MLB first delayed the start of the 2020 regular season and canceled spring training a day later due to the coronavirus pandemic. The A's said in a statement to NBC Sports California that the City of Oakland Alameda County have kept the Coliseum available as a potential surge location for COVID-19 patients. That, combined with state and local bans on mass gatherings, made the Coliseum unavailable for use, the team said.
In a letter obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, the A's told the Coliseum Authority would invoke the force majeure provision of the 10-year lease the team signed in 2014 and defer the rental payment.
The @sfchronicle has obtained the letter the A’s sent to the Coliseum Authority advising them that they would defer their annual rent payment specifically because the building was not available for their use as per provisions in the contract. Zero mention of revenue: pic.twitter.com/xnj7OjafJW— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) May 20, 2020
The city and county still have $55 million in unpaid debt from renovations when the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995, according to DeBolt. DeBolt reported the stadium authority is "tied up in a legal battle" with the Warriors over $48 million in unpaid debt on Oracle Arena. The Warriors were in the midst of their first season in San Francisco when the NBA season was suspended, while the Raiders are set to play their first season in Las Vegas.
The A's had planned to build a new ballpark at Oakland's Howard Terminal by 2023, and the team officially agreed to purchase Alameda County's shares of the Coliseum in December. In March, the A's requested fast-track environmental certification of the site from California Gov. Gavin Newsom under state Assembly Bill 734. A group of shipping, trucking and steel companies filed a lawsuit on March 17 opposing the team's submission, and state officials' focus on the coronavirus pandemic likely will push back the team's timeline.
NBC Sports California's Jon Williams contributed to this report.