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New Oakland A’s stadium closer than ever after Vegas Raiders stadium funding approved

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If all goes according to plan with the Raiders and Warriors, the Athletics will soon be the sole tenant of the Oakland Coliseum complex.

Toronto Blue Jays v Oakland Athletics Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Nevada Legislature approved $750 million in public financing for a planned $1.9 billion stadium, with the remainder to be paid by the Raiders and the family fortune of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is expected to sign the measure on Monday.

The City of Oakland and Alameda County intend to work up a plan to keep the Raiders that will try to involve the investment group headed by former NFL stars Ronnie Lott and Rodney Peete, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Phil Matier and Andy Ross, but such a plan will somehow have to work without the level of public funding promised by the State of Nevada.

Sometime in September, the Lott-Peete investment group and the City of Oakland came to a 90-day memorandum of understanding with the City of Oakland to negotiate the possible sale of the Coliseum’s land to the investment group, reports David Debolt of the East Bay Times. The MOU, however, is not the sort of exclusive negotiating rights agreement the City handed to Floyd Kephart that was a huge waste of every party’s time.

Let’s face facts here. Las Vegas has put down a big down payment on the Raiders, and the City of Oakland and Alameda County are still trying to knock heads together to even have a coherent proposal to offer the NFL that also somehow avoids spending taxpayer money on anything other than infrastructure improvements. With the Golden State Warriors set to move to the Chase Center in San Francisco for the 2019-20 NBA season and the Raiders on track to move into their new Vegas digs for the 2019-20 NFL season, the A’s will soon be the only team left at the Coliseum site. The A’s played the waiting game, and they’re about to “win.”

Timeline

A little over a year ago, when the Raiders were contenders to move to Los Angeles with either the Chargers or the Rams, I outlined a timeline for constructing a new baseball-only stadium to open for the 2020 season at the Coliseum site. The L.A. plan involved the Raiders moving down south immediately, playing either at the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl temporarily.

The Las Vegas Raiders, however, plan to stay in Oakland through the 2018-19 NFL season, using both of the one-year lease options it has with the Joint Powers Authority. It’s not clear whether the A’s would be allowed to break ground on a new stadium, as Mark Davis has made it clear he would not want stadium construction work interfering with Raiders game traffic.

If the Raiders are approved to move to Las Vegas in January, the A’s will have the certainty to start laying down plans to build at the Coliseum. It’s possible under either scenario for the A’s to open the 2021 season at their new stadium, though it’s not inconceivable the A’s might have to start part or all of 2021 at the Coliseum.

Let’s consider two possibilities at the Coliseum site, then:

(1) The A’s can build their stadium even with the Raiders sticking around for awhile

  • January 2017: NFL owners approve the Raiders move to Las Vegas, starting in the 2018-19 season, by a three-quarters vote.
  • Winter 2017: The A's present a plan, promising financing from Major League Baseball, to construct a stadium in the Coliseum parking lot while requesting land sale and infrastructure assistance from the City of Oakland and Alameda County.
  • Fall 2017: The City of Oakland and Alameda County, after negotiations, approve a deal to sell Coliseum land and make infrastructure improvements around the Coliseum for a new ballpark.
  • Fall 2018: Ground breaks on a new baseball-only stadium. The Warriors are still playing in Oracle Arena and the Raiders start their final season in Oakland while the A's play at the Coliseum. Groundbreaking for AT&T Park was December 11, 1997 for opening in March 2000, so we’ll use 27 months as our timeline.
  • 2019-20 NBA season: Targeted opening for Golden State Warriors new arena in Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco.
  • 2019-20 NFL season: Targeted opening for Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.
  • Bay Bridge Exhibition Series, March 2021: The new baseball-only stadium opens.
  • End of 2021 baseball season: The old Oakland Coliseum is imploded to great fanfare.

(2) The A’s have to wait for the Raiders to leave

  • January 2017: NFL owners approve the Raiders move to Las Vegas, starting in the 2018-19 season, by a three-quarters vote.
  • Winter 2017: The A's present a plan, promising financing from Major League Baseball, to construct a stadium in the Coliseum parking lot while requesting land sale and infrastructure assistance from the City of Oakland and Alameda County. Groundbreaking is scheduled to start after the final home game of the Raiders’ 2018-19 NFL season.
  • Fall 2017: The City of Oakland and Alameda County, after negotiations, approve a deal to sell Coliseum land and make infrastructure improvements around the Coliseum for a new ballpark.
  • January 2019: The Raiders play their last home game at the Oakland Coliseum. Ground breaks on a new baseball-only stadium. The Warriors are still playing in Oracle Arena.
  • 2019-20 NBA season: Targeted opening for Golden State Warriors new arena in Mission Bay neighborhood of San Francisco.
  • 2019-20 NFL season: Targeted opening for Raiders stadium in Las Vegas.
  • Bay Bridge Exhibition Series, March 2021: The new baseball-only stadium opens. The shortened timeframe may force the A’s to temporarily start play at the Coliseum, a la the delays in completing the Mt. Davis construction when the A’s had to, irony of ironies, start the 1996 season in Las Vegas.
  • End of 2021 baseball season: The old Oakland Coliseum is imploded to great fanfare.

We’ll soon find out if Fisher & Wolff were ever serious about Oakland

The trouble with playing the waiting game is that it necessarily meant that Oakland’s ownership group had little to say about their plans. Many took that silence as a sign that they weren’t serious about advancing stadium plan’s in Oakland and that they were happy to sit back and accept revenue sharing checks.

Well, now the Athletics Investment Group LLC must answer the question A’s fans have been dying to know for a generation, because there will soon be no longer any reason to keep that answer back. No more politics with other Oakland teams. No more making sure the Oakland politicians they need to be on board with their plans aren’t screwed up by saying things that would directly pit one team against the other.

That question: When will the A’s open a new baseball stadium for the Oakland Athletics?