Athletics Close to Paying Rent & Being Able to Use Coliseum if MLB Restarts

John Hickey

The Oakland A’s are in talks with Alameda County to open the Oakland Coliseum safely, and once that’s done, apparently the club will be ready to make its annual rent payment.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, A’s president Dave Kaval said the club submitted a 67-page healthy and safety protocol to the Alameda County Health Department, and got feedback on it on Wednesday.

“It’s really, really important we have a path to open the Coliseum and operate it in a safe way with these revised protocols,” Kaval said, listing them as “social distancing, a limited number of people, different tiers depending on whether they’re players or support staff or security.”

It came out last month that the baseball club hadn’t made its annual payment for the Coliseum of $1.25 million that had been due April 1.

In late March there had been a suggestion from the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom that the Coliseum might be a candidate to serve as an overflow facility should Northern California hospitals get hit with overcrowding. That eventuality did not take place, but the Coliseum would not have been available to the A’s, who would have begun the season at home on March 26 had it not been for the lockdown of the sport over the pandemic.

The Chronicle said the A’s are in discussion with the Joint Powers Agency that governs the Coliseum, and that if/when the team gets approval to work out at the Coliseum, the team will make its rent payment.

“Being able to use the facility is obviously very critical,” Kaval said. “We’ve been adhering to the provisions of the lease, which specifically state the payment is due when you can actually use it. ... Hopefully, we can get in there and start training; some other teams already have been doing that and we haven’t been able to.”

With baseball in a lockdown thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the A’s have gotten some bad headlines of late, beginning with the decision to withhold rent and moving on to the decision to suspend $400 per week stipends to the team’s minor leaguers. All of the other 29 Major League teams are making payments through at least June, although some have reduced the amount being paid per week.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball owners and players are negotiating, off and on, in an effort to get a shortened season going. There have been suggestions of seasons that could range from 50 games to 82 games to 114 games. The season might begin as soon as the first week of July.

However it works out, the overall rental cost to the A’s is likely to be less than less than the standard $1.25 million.

“The current agreement is on a per-game basis,” he said. “You pay the full amount and then there is adjustment based on how many games you play.”

If a deal between the players and owners can be worked out, most teams are expected to convene at their home stadiums, although some might opt initially to use their spring training facilities in Florida or Arizona.

Having the Coliseum available would enable the club to be in position to have a so-called Spring Training II if needed later this month. Fans would not be able to attend either the second spring or home games, at least to begin the season under social distancing rules that have come from Newsom and his health officials.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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