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Design & Development

Oakland enters into historic deal to revamp Coliseum site

RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland, USA

Featured image credit: Chris6d/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

The City of Oakland has entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement (ENA) with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group (AASEG) for its 50% stake in the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Complex, which could lead to a reported $5bn (£4.08bn/€4.57bn) revitalisation of the site.

AASEG is an African American founded, Oakland-based group focused on creating economic opportunity in East Oakland and using the Coliseum Complex, which includes the RingCentral Coliseum and Oakland Arena, as a vehicle for economic equity and social justice.

AASEG’s proposal includes bringing a WNBA women’s basketball team to Oakland, along with other sports and entertainment projects, a hotel and new housing. The group has received strong support from the Oakland community, Oakland City Council, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority (OACCA), the operating body of the Complex, with the proposal being presented at a press conference yesterday (Thursday).

The Complex sits on a 200-acre site, making the proposed deal the largest transfer of public land to African Americans in Oakland’s 171-year history. Ray Bobbitt, AASEG founder, said in a statement: “Awarding the development agreement of this vital site to an Oakland-based African American led business entity will go far in addressing glaring racial disparities within the City of Oakland’s contracting practices. This project will foster economic parity, entrepreneurial and local small business opportunities.”

Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, author of the Oakland City Council and OACCA resolutions allowing for the ENA with AASEG, added: “I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to bring jobs, housing at all income levels, sports, entertainment and more to this vital Oakland site, in a way that strengthens equity and vibrancy for the community at this transit-accessible location.”

News of the pact between Oakland and the AASEG comes with Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise the Oakland Athletics holding the remaining 50% stake in the Complex. The team has played at the Coliseum since 1968, but intends to leave its current home when its lease expires in 2024.

A’s representatives were not present at yesterday’s presentation, with the team still deep in negotiations with the City on its high-profile new ballpark project at Howard Terminal. “This party is going to try and work with the A’s to come together, in terms of what we can do to develop this land,” said Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo, according to local broadcaster ABC7.

Kaplan added: “Certainly, the A’s are welcome to be a part of this, I want to make it clear, they’re not being kicked out. We welcome them be a part of revitalisation of the site.”

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in December increased the pressure on the Oakland Athletics and City of Oakland to seal an agreement for a new ballpark, stating 2023 would be a “crucial year” in determining the franchise’s future while confirming it wouldn’t be hit with a relocation fee should it choose to move to Las Vegas.

Manfred provided an update on the A’s situation from MLB’s perspective at the League’s winter meetings. In June, the A’s and city authorities hailed another key vote to progress the franchise’s $12bn waterfront ballpark project and potentially ward off the threat of the team relocating to Las Vegas.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) voted 23-2 to remove port designation from the 56-acre Howard Terminal site at which the A’s are seeking to build a new stadium and associated mixed-use development. A vote against would have likely killed off the project.