Alameda County has agreed an $85m (£65.6m/€75.8m) deal to sell its share of the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum complex to the Oakland Athletics in a move that grants the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise a fall-back option if its efforts to develop a new ballpark fail to come to fruition.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has unanimously voted to approve the term sheet for the deal with the A’s for its 50% stake in the Coliseum, the team’s current home. The agreement is set to be finalised over the coming month.
In February, the A’s revealed revised design plans for its proposed new ballpark, along with initiatives designed to address environmental concerns surrounding the project. The A’s first revealed plans to develop a new stadium and revamp its existing Coliseum home in November, spelling out an intention to put the “park back in ballpark”.
The A’s had been mulling over two possible sites for a new ballpark – the Coliseum and a mooted location at the waterfront Howard Terminal. The latter site was chosen for the next-generation urban ballpark, which with a total capacity of 34,000 aims to create the most intimate experience in baseball.
Working with public agencies and community residents, the A’s plan to revitalise the Coliseum by pulling the adjacent neighbourhood space into the site, and creating new economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities.
The agreement with Alameda County will end a co-ownership structure for the Coliseum, allowing the A’s to forge forward with its development plans for the stadium it has called home since 1968, while also providing a potential back-up if problems arise at Howard Terminal.
County officials believe the proposed deal will serve to keep the A’s in Oakland with the NFL’s Raiders set to move to Las Vegas in 2020 and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors poised to move into the new Chase Centre in San Francisco for the 2019-20 season.
“We’ve been working with the A’s and the city for a long time to sell the county’s portion,” Supervisor Nate Miley told The Mercury News. “The A’s seem to have gotten to that position. We’ve been clear we want to get out of the sports business.”
He added: “Everything is subject to a three-headed monster when dealing with the sports complex. It’s not part of our core function or core mission. It’s more of a city responsibility and obligation.
“The plan the A’s envision is a very good use. It’s much more appropriate for the A’s to have a say in this. We want to retain a sports franchise in the city. Having the A’s control their destiny is significant.”
The Coliseum deal comes after Assembly Bill 1191 passed the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee by a 7-0 vote on Monday evening. AB 1191 is intended to support the development of the Howard Terminal site, which as well as the ballpark will include affordable housing, retail, and mixed-use development that will provide access to the waterfront.
Commenting on the Coliseum deal and the path moving forward, A’s president Dave Kaval told the club’s official website: “We set two big goals for ourselves in November when we announced the two-site plan. One was to make progress here in East Oakland, and the other was at the waterfront.
“This is a big domino to fall for our redevelopment efforts in East Oakland and the adaptive reuse. To get one partner to deal with, the city, and move forward with them is a great accomplishment.”
Kaval added: “The next big (step) is the vote of the Port of Oakland Commission. That’s on our waterfront location and will happen in May. The date is not decided upon. That’s going to be similar to this deal with the county, the economic terms that we would work with the port on. That will be an important date for the organisation and our fans.”
Image: Marcin Chady