The A’s threatened this week to leave Oakland. It’s not the first time the idea has been raised over the last couple of decades but it’s got more substance than previous rumors, and it’s more jarring than ever several years into an emphatic Rooted In Oakland campaign.
Officially, MLB is the one directing the A’s to explore new markets until or unless they can get concrete answers and legitimate progress on their proposed Howard Terminal ballpark project. However, the team had a longstanding offer from the league to use this ploy if needed to add pressure during negotiations with the city, reports Alex Coffey of The Athletic.
As you would expect from a $1 billion stadium amid a larger $12 billion development, there are countless issues at hand that are all infinitely complicated and delicate, including but not limited to financial details. Coffey’s story also notes that some involved have not appreciated the team taking the negotiations public.
A’s want answers
Team President Dave Kaval is asking for answers. The team submitted a proposal earlier this year that it believes is fair and beneficial to the city, and they’ve already spent nearly a quarter-billion dollars pursuing this Howard Terminal project over the last four years. And that’s just the latest stadium attempt out of several over the last couple decades.
When this project was first announced, the hope was to open the new ballpark in 2023. Now the city says the earliest possibility would be 2027, Kaval said on A’s Cast. In that same interview, he notes that the NFL’s Raiders recently put up their new stadium in Las Vegas in three years, highlighting the general difficulty of building in California and also active opposition to this particular project from some local parties.
Any possibility of remaining long-term at the Coliseum site is over. It is not happening. “It’s Howard or bust for Oakland,” Kaval told Brodie Brazil of NBCS. The current facility, now approaching its 55th birthday, has long been deemed by the league as unfit for continued use, and they will not be building a new park there. Kaval noted that other markets have found success with downtown parks rather than destination sites surrounded by huge parking lots, per KNBR.
The A’s can’t stay in the Coliseum forever, and they won’t rebuild at that site. They want to know if they’ll be moving forward with their plan at Howard Terminal or leaving Oakland, and in the meantime they’re going to get a head start on seeing what the latter route might look like. They’ve already been contacted by five other potential markets, per Kaval, with more expected to join in.
This saga has gotten beyond ridiculous and it’s time to secure the A’s future one way or other. They want the City Council to vote before their summer recess begins in mid-July.
Some prominent Oakland politicians have spoken publicly on this latest development. First up is the office of Mayor Libby Schaaf, with this statement:
“We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront. We have made great strides with the Governor’s certification and release of the EIR. Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community — regional and local partners included — to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region, and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”
In late April, Schaaf’s office stated that the A’s current proposal “appears to request public investment at the high end for projects of this type nationwide.”
The Oakland City Council has eight members, and Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas tweeted the following on Tuesday, with reference to fellow Councilmembers Rebecca Kaplan and Carroll Fife:
“Council is committed to keeping A’s in Oakland. I met Dave Kaval on [April 30 and] told him Council leadership — me, [Kaplan, and Fife] — are ready to meet [with] ownership to move forward. No response yet. Also awaiting info from A’s so staff can schedule to Council [before] summer.”
Councilmember Loren Taylor posted this tweet, including a link to a story on the topic by KRON:
“There is no surprise with today’s announcement because the A’s have always been looking at other locations, for a possible move. I remain equally committed to keeping the A’s in Oakland and simultaneously ensuring the best deal for Oakland and Oaklanders.”
Councilmember Treva Reid, who represents the district that includes the Coliseum site, said this, via Shayna Rubin and Annie Sciacca of the Mercury News:
“My commitment will always be the residents of East Oakland and ensuring strong community benefits and economic development. I appreciate the contribution of the Athletics and their commitment to stay rooted in Oakland; however, the Council must have an adequate amount of time to thoroughly evaluate their proposed offer to ensure Oakland residents receive a fair, transparent, and equitable deal.”
This is only the beginning of the next chapter of a tale that has gone on far too long. Even the best-case scenario is a complicated, lengthy process, and the worst-case scenario of losing our team, while still a distant concept, feels more realistic than ever.
A few parting thoughts from Rubin.
Some next day thoughts on A’s— Shayna Rubin (@ShaynaRubin) May 12, 2021
- would like clearer answer from Oakland officials on what their issue is (is it jobs? A’s directing so much public funds?)
- the $450m is project generated fund (property tax)
- The A’s also threatened to leave in 2014. This isn’t a new tactic.