City opens negotiations with A's over Coliseum purchase

City opens negotiations with A's over Coliseum purchase
Photos: Scott Morris/Hoodline
By Scott Morris - Published on May 16, 2018.

Oakland's City Council approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Oakland A's yesterday that could allow the team to buy the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, where it currently plays.

The A’s now have agreements to discuss building a new ballpark at either the Coliseum complex in East Oakland or Howard Terminal near Jack London Square. Last month, the Port of Oakland approved a separate agreement with the team.

A’s President Dave Kaval attended Tuesday’s City Council meeting, which went late into the night, with the council voting on the A’s proposal just before midnight.

Kaval told the council that where the A’s build a new ballpark is important not just for the team, but for the city. “It’s critical we have all the options available,” he said.

Oakland A's President Dave Kaval.

The team intends to build a privately-funded stadium somewhere in Oakland, even if the exact location remains undetermined, said Kaval, adding that the location should benefit the surrounding community.

The team had previously announced its intention to build a stadium where the Peralta Community College District offices are near Laney College last year, but the district’s Board of Trustees decided not to move forward with negotiations a few months later.

In March, Kaval announced that the team was interested in purchasing the Coliseum site in exchange for paying off $136 million in public debt still owed from previous renovations to the Coliseum and Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors play.

But, he said, the team was still considering building a ballpark at Howard Terminal.

Mayor Libby Schaaf said that she was supportive of the A’s getting exclusive agreements to negotiate for the Coliseum site as well as Howard Terminal. The City Council’s vote makes it official that the A’s are working on deals for both.

The team's agreement with the city lasts for nine months with an option for a three-month extension. It requires that the A’s don’t pursue a new ballpark outside of Oakland while negotiating and for the A’s to reimburse the city for work done on the project.

It also includes a community benefits agreement that was added to the agreement at the last minute.

Union members turned out in support of the deal, saying that the A’s had reached out to them and intended to provide opportunities and apprenticeships. Oakland Chamber of Commerce President Barbara Leslie also spoke in support of an agreement, saying that the chamber did not care whether a new ballpark was at the Coliseum or Howard Terminal.

If the A’s develop the land, it would include not just a baseball stadium, but other development. Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan advocated for affordable housing there, in addition to hotels, restaurants, and even a soccer venue.

A local developer seeking to start a new soccer franchise has proposed that his team and the A’s share the space.

However, if Howard Terminal ends up being the A’s new home, the city could then seek to find another developer for the Coliseum property.

Alameda County jointly owns the Coliseum complex with Oakland and would need to approve any deal, though the county has recently sought to sell its share to the city.