Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics reached an agreement with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority last week on a 10-year lease extension, but that deal has yet to be approved by Oakland City Council. As Matthew Artz of the Oakland Tribune details, the development team working to build a new stadium for the Raiders has opposed the agreement, and is urging city council members to reject the new lease.
“The current proposal … simply allows the A’s to buy more time to find a site outside of Oakland … and disrupt the ability to deliver a stadium for the Raiders and the ancillary developments adjacent to that stadium,” said development team attorney Zach Wasserman in a letter to Oakland mayor Jean Quan and council members.
As Artz writes, the Raiders hope to eventually build a new stadium by partnering with developers on the Coliseum City project, which is aiming to transform the Coliseum complex into a sports and entertainment center. However, Athletics owner Lew Wolff has said that if his team wants to build a new ballpark at the site, it would want to be in charge of the development. As such, while council members say they want to keep both the MLB and NFL franchises in Oakland, there doesn’t appear to be an obvious solution for both sides to come together on a stadium agreement.
In his letter to Oakland’s civic leaders, Wasserman wrote that it’s crucial for O.co Coliseum to be demolished in 2015 in order to construct a multiuse Raiders facility in the same spot, which would aim to open by 2018. However, the Athletics’ lease agreement – which Oakland City Council will be tasked with approving or rejecting – includes a clause stating that the A’s wouldn’t be forced to vacate the Coliseum for a Raiders stadium development until after the 2016 MLB season.
With a number of balls up in the air for both the Athletics and the Raiders, it will be interesting how the upcoming vote plays out. According to Artz, several council members said this week they have been frustrated by the lack of progress on a Raiders stadium and don’t expect Wasserman’s team’s concerns to impact their decision, which may suggest they’re leaning toward approving the lease for the MLB club. In that case, Raiders owner Mark Davis would have a tough decision for the next step for his club.
“There’s all kinds of options.” Davis told Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News last month when asked about his next move if the A’s deal gets done. “But I want to make the best one.”