Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority has voted to scrap a naming rights contract for the current home of Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Oakland Athletics amid a conflict-of-interest scandal.
RingCentral, a provider of global enterprise cloud communications and collaboration solutions, in June confirmed a naming-rights agreement for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, also home to NFL American football team the Raiders up to the end of the 2019 season.
The stadium was renamed RingCentral Coliseum after a multi-year deal was approved by the Authority, the agency which oversees the venue. The contract had been worth $1m (£761,000/€903,000) per year for three years, with the option to extend for a further 12 months.
However, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper reports that the Authority voted unanimously to end the contract with RingCentral after the former head of the Authority, Scott McKibben, was charged with violating state conflict-of-interest laws in negotiating the original deal. “We did what our legal counsel advised us that we needed to do, and that was to rescind the original contract,” said Oakland Councilman Larry Reid, who serves as the Authority’s chair.
The deal was signed when McKibben was executive director of the Coliseum Authority. McKibben was charged by Alameda County prosecutors in November with felony and misdemeanour counts of violating conflict-of-interest laws.
The Authority is subject to state laws that prevent government officials from personally benefiting from their decisions. However, McKibben, who resigned in August, is said to have requested a $50,000 fee for brokering the contract, if the deal was approved.
Reid added that the Authority’s interim executive director, Henry Gardner, is currently working on a new contract with RingCentral, which is expected to be presented to a board meeting next month. Before RingCentral took the naming rights the Coliseum had been without a main sponsor since 2016, when the Raiders announced plans to leave for the new Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
The A’s are also seeking an exit from the Coliseum. In November, Oakland City Council voted in favour of entering into exclusive talks with the Athletics to sell its half of the Coliseum site, an encouraging development for the team in its ongoing effort to develop a new ballpark.
The news came after the A’s made a new offer for the site in a bid to break the legal impasse that was putting their plan for a new stadium at risk. The A’s are hoping to transform the Coliseum site into a mixed-use development in order to help finance their 35,000-seat ballpark plan at Howard Terminal.