MLB Tells A’s To Keep Their Options Open…Outside of Oakland
Major League Baseball has moved into a more aggressive phase in the push for a new Oakland A’s stadium: threatening to pull the team from Oakland.
Knowing full well what a threat of that kind would do to fragile hearts of Oakland sports fans, who have already lost the Raiders and Warriors, the MLB issued the following statement Tuesday:
“MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A’s new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland. The A’s have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.
The Oakland Coliseum is not a viable option for the future vision of baseball. We have instructed the Athletics to begin to explore other markets while they continue to pursue a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. The Athletics need a new ballpark to remain competitive, so it is now in our best interest to also consider other markets.”
While there have been some vocal opponents of the proposed stadium at the Howard Terminal near Jack London Square, the city of Oakland and the A’s themselves at least outwardly seem aligned on wanting to get the thing built. Most, but not all, people agree that the Coliseum, where the A’s have played since 1968, is not suitable in its current configuration or as a location for a new stadium.
The waterfront proposal is a whopping $12 billion development that according to the team would be funded privately, though they are asking the city to pony up $855 million toward infrastructure improvements. The plan extends well beyond a 35,000-person capacity stadium — they’re talking 3,000 “affordable” housing units, 18 acres of parks and open space, 1.5 million square feet of office space, nearly 300,000 square feet of retail and a 400-room hotel.
The plan now hinges on a City Council vote, which has yet to occur. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf responded to the MLB direction with a statement of her own, saying:
“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 (environmental impact report). 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 a not-so-coy play for both sides of the fence, Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval responded with a statement that the team will “remain committed” to staying in Oakland while it also explores other cities for viable backup plans. Kaval said the MLB will work closely with the team but would ultimately cast final decisions on potential locations.
— Dave Kaval (@DaveKaval) May 11, 2021