Conflict and lawsuits are familiar to the Joint Power Authority board, which governs the publicly owned Coliseum complex -- home to the Oakland A's, Oakland Raiders and Golden State Warriors.
But this time the JPA's opponent is SMG, the company hired 13 years ago to run daily operations at O.co Coliseum and the Oracle Arena.
On Friday, SMG issued a 10-page complaint protesting the decision by the JPA to negotiate with the Anschutz Entertainment Group for the Oakland Coliseum management contract.
Lawyers for SMG cited "substantial irregularities" during the April 20 board meeting, when JPA commissioners voted 4-3, with one abstention, to choose AEG after convening a last-minute closed-session meeting whose topic was not included on the agenda.
In addition, the final vote rejecting the competitors, SMG and Global Spectrum, was made by JPA Commissioner Mary Warren. She had to be asked twice before casting a "yes" vote in favor of AEG.
Commissioner Scott Haggerty reacted when she initially said "no." Haggerty's intrusion prompted a challenge from Sam Singer, president of SMG's public relations firm, Singer Associates. Singer also did work for AEG until recently.
Commissioners said they kept the bids secret for as long as possible to prevent competitors from getting an upper hand. And Warren insisted she did not change her vote because of Haggerty's influence. Warren, whose thoughts during the meeting appeared at times to be elsewhere, said she thought the vote was on whether to delay the decision rather than on the actual item: Whether to pay a consultant, the Barrett Sports Group, up to $100,000 to negotiate with AEG on the JPA's behalf.
SMG wants the JPA to withdraw their decision and select a bidder for the five-year contract in a "legal, transparent and educated manner."
"We want them to do it right," SMG executive Mark Solit said Monday.
The board has 30 days to act. If it refuses, SMG could ask a judge to decide whether the JPA violated the Brown Act by calling the closed session with no notice.
JPA Executive Director Mark Kaufman wrote in an email Monday that "the process is ongoing to negotiate a contract with AEG."
AEG did not comment.
Besides possible Brown Act violations, SMG's complaint accused the board of misrepresenting AEG's experience in managing an NFL football team, refusing to give commissioners more time to analyze the proposals and failing to include a bid protest procedure in the request for proposals issued Oct. 19, 2011, by the JPA.
SMG's challenge could be seen as a case of sour grapes. But the process was opaque, which commissioners claimed was necessary to keep the playing field level. In response to the request for proposals, AEG, SMG and Global Spectrum submitted bids that were released to this newspaper and JPA commissioners on April 17. The Golden State Warriors were allowed some input on the request for proposals because of an earlier lawsuit settlement. But neither the Warriors, nor the Raiders or A's, were given access to any of the proposals before they became public.
Until April 17, commissioners Haggerty and Ignacio De La Fuente were the only ones on the eight-member board to have access to the proposals as well as an analysis of the bids by the Barrett Sports Group.
Meanwhile, all three companies were invited under city of Oakland regulations to follow up their original proposal with a final offer. SMG sent their "best and final" bid on April 9. Only Haggerty and De La Fuente had access to the follow-up bids before the closed session at the April 20 board meeting about an hour before the commissioners voted.
SMG's current contract expires July 1. But the company could potentially drag out the transition from SMG to AEG if lawyers can successfully challenge the vote.