Oakland Mayor Suggests Exclusive Ballpark Site Negotiations With A's
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said that she "wants to enter into dual exclusive negotiating agreements with the A’s for two possible ballpark sites" -- the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum and Howard Terminal, according to Kimberly Veklerov of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The agreements would "prevent other developers from making moves on those parcels while the A’s decide which works better for their new home." Sign-off on the exclusive negotiating agreements "would need to come from the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors for the Coliseum site, and from the Port of Oakland Board of Commissioners for the waterfront terminal site." Both votes "could happen as early as April." The A’s on Monday "offered to buy the Coliseum site from the city in exchange for paying off the outstanding debt owed by Oakland and Alameda County" -- some $135M. The team "made the offer after getting word that Oakland officials were in talks with other developers." Schaaf said that entering into the exclusive talks "would 'double our chances' of keeping the A’s in town" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/29).
VETTING EVERY OPTION: In S.F., Matier & Ross noted other developers eyeing the Coliseum site "raised a worst-case scenario" for the A's: the team's "fallback spot for a new ballpark could end up in the hands of someone who thinks they can find better uses for the 130-acre parcel than a baseball stadium." The A’s concern is that if they "can’t find another spot to play ball, they will once again find themselves tenants at the Coliseum." Going public with their offer also "sent a clear message to Oakland officials" that the team is "serious about the Coliseum if other sites don’t work out." City Council President Larry Reid said that while it was in the "'best interest of Oakland to keep our A’s in Oakland,' the city needs to look at all its options." Those could "include a tech center or other business development whose backers might love to put thousands of well-paying jobs at a site with great access to the freeway, BART and Oakland International Airport." Reid called the site "prime real estate." Coliseum officials have "met with Bay Area real estate investor Mark Hall, who is looking for a place to build a 15,000-seat stadium" to house the USL expansion franchise that he acquired the rights to in '17 (SFCHRONICLE.com, 3/27).
NOT SO FAST: A San Jose MERCURY NEWS editorial stated that it is "great to see" the A’s pitch a deal to buy the Coliseum site, but city and county officials "shouldn’t swing at the first offering." Any agreement to sell the site to the team "should make taxpayers whole." The era of publicly subsidized sports venues "must end." Unfortunately, the A’s offer "misses that mark." It is "time for the team to commit to the Coliseum, pay the fair market price and start construction of a new ballpark" and "field a winning team" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 3/28).