Oakland’s lawsuit was technically against Alameda County, but was intended to squeeze the A’s and Major League Baseball, and it appears to have extracted some concessions from the team.
The Oakland A’s are now nearing their 20th consecutive year of attempting to play ball somewhere other than the dilapidated cavern known as the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum (now technically called RingCentral Coliseum, but probably not for much longer). The latest incarnation of a proposed new stadium is the Howard Terminal ballpark plan near Jack London Square, which the A’s claim they would finance themselves with no taxpayer dollars.
But that would require currently non-existent revenue that would allegedly be generated by redeveloping the current Coliseum and formerly-known-as-Oracle Arena sites, a plan which Oakland sued Alameda County last month to hold up. Whatever motivated Oakland's city councilmembers to do that has now been resolved, as the San Francisco Business Times reports that Oakland has dropped that lawsuit and the new A’s stadium plans are free to move forward.
“We’re dropping the suit because we’re pleased with our most recent discussions with the A’s and our shared interest in Oakland’s future,” the city said in a statement to KPIX that was signed by mayor Libby Schaaf, city council president Rebecca Kaplan and vice mayor Larry Reid. That statement doesn’t tell us anything! But the contention of the lawsuit had been that Alameda’s County’s sale of their half of the land violated the Surplus Land Act by not first considering affordable housing, so it’s quite likely that the A’s threw more affordable housing in the deal, or some other consideration that pleased the Oakland City Council.
Oakland owns half of the 120-acre site, comprised of the combined coliseum and arena grounds, and Alameda County already agreed to sell the A’s their half for $85 million. The site has dim prospects with the Raiders leaving for Las Vegas after this season, and the Warriors having already relocated to San Francisco’s Chase Center. The A’s have indicated that they will redevelop the current baseball park site into an outdoor amphitheater type of arrangement seen below, and per NBC Sports Bay Area, additional “housing, shops, restaurants and a park that will help fund the Howard Terminal site.”
.@Athletics plan for the #Oakland Coliseum site would retain the field portion of the stadium but make it into a community field and amphitheater. The current @OracleArena building would stay as a venue for concerts etc. Two creeks that are currently underground would be exposed. pic.twitter.com/4ms8MMPRB2— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) January 24, 2019
That all sounds nice, but the A’s have also been using the we might move to Las Vegas too tactic to make the lawsuit go away. Even though the lawsuit is dropped, that threat may resurface. According to the Business Times, the A’s agreed to “not pursue a stadium deal in another city during a six-month land-sale negotiation in Oakland,“ which is conspicuously only a six-month promise.
This is at least the eighth attempt at a new Oakland A’s ballpark since 2002 (one of these plans would have made them the San Jose A’s), so it’s hard to get optimistic after 17 years of failures to launch. Plenty can still go wrong here, and there’s no guarantee that Oakland will sell their half of the necessary land. But with embarrassing raw sewage incidents plaguing the old Coliseum for years, it’s nice to see that Oakland and the A’s are finally getting their shit together and negotiating.
Image: Bjarke Ingels Group