The Oakland Athletics’ push for a new stadium has been going on for over a decade, with plenty of recent false starts. In July 2016, the A’s quest for a new stadium was deemed one of MLB’s top priorities, and three particular options were outlined the next year: the current site, a waterfront location at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, and a site near Lake Merritt in Downtown Oakland, which the team announced as their preferred location in September 2017. However, the community college district that owns that land decided not to sell it later that month, and the port site has recently come under question for everything from transit accessibility to potentially rising sea levels.
That’s put an extra focus on the current site of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. And that site will have a lot more space once the Golden State Warriors leave the adjoining Oracle Arena for the new Chase Center in San Francisco ahead of the 2019-20 season, and it won’t need to be multi-use after the Raiders leave for Las Vegas in the 2020 season. That’s led to the A’s ownership group sending a letter to Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf with an offer to buy the Coliseum complex (currently owned by the city of Oakland and Alameda County). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll pick the existing spot.
San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross broke the news Sunday, and wrote that the port site is still under consideration as well:
The Oakland A’s are pitching a sweeping offer to the city and Alameda County: The team wants to buy the entire Coliseum site.
That includes the stadium where the A’s have played since 1968, the arena soon to be vacated by the Warriors, the parking lot — everything.
“We think the best way to guarantee our long-term viability and success in Oakland is to own our own home,” A’s President Dave Kaval told us.
The Coliseum is one of two likely sites left in Oakland for the A’s to build a new stadium, the other being Howard Terminal on the waterfront near Jack London Square. Kaval says the A’s offer doesn’t necessarily mean they’re committing to the Coliseum location — but they don’t want another buyer snatching it up, just in case.
The team’s offer includes assuming more than $135 million in debt from the city and county, and it received some support from Schaaf and councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan Monday:
“I’m excited to work with the A’s in their commitment to stay in Oakland and build a privately financed ballpark,” said Schaaf in a release. “We look forward to reviewing, analyzing, and considering the offer.”
Oakland at-large councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said Monday that she is “heartened” by the team’s proposal.
Kaplan said in a statement, “This site is already publicly-owned, and large enough to accommodate both a new ballpark and supportive development such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and more.”
…“The Coliseum site already has a BART station, easy freeway and parking access and an already-completed environmental impact report, making development of this site more cost-effective and with less time delay to completion.”
There is quite a bit to favor that plan, especially from the point of view of access for both cars and transit riders, something that would be a significant challenge at the port site. And the current site isn’t as vulnerable to rising sea levels, which the A’s have previously wondered about with the terminal site, and it would have similar usage to its current use after the new stadium was built, which makes things easier from a permit/usability standpoint and would create less neighborhood opposition (something which could also be an issue with the port site). Oh, and it’s also not next to a scrap metal recycling site that runs at night and creates plenty of noise.
Moreover, this sets up a future use for the Coliseum and Oracle, something that could be challenging if the A’s follow the Raiders and Warriors in moving elsewhere. Of course, the plan depends on the city and county agreeing to turn this over in exchange for the debt assumption, but Kaval told Matier and Ross that “We think that’s a very robust offer and a sharp contrast to the Raiders, who wanted the land for free.” And the early reactions from councilmembers, many of whom have been advocating for this solution all along, seem promising.
However, this still appears to be more of the A’s fallback option than their preferred plan. Kaval told Matier and Ross “There are no guarantees at Howard Terminal. We need an option, and if that means we need to own the Coliseum site, we are willing to do that.” So while there’s a lot to support this idea, and while it may wind up being what the team eventually does, it’s not their preferred target at the moment. But there is a rising chance that the A’s new home could wind up being in the same place as their old home.