The Oakland Athletics are closer than ever to becoming sole owners of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site.
Even though the A’s are on a trajectory to leave the Coliseum in favor of a new stadium at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square, the organization has wanted to take over the site hosting the Coliseum and Arena and to develop it.
Already the team is half-owner of the site, having purchased Alameda County’s portion in December.
On Thursday night, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oakland City Council, meeting in a closed session, debated the concept of selling its half, decided it was a good idea and opted to move forward.
After a near-unanimous vote of approval, the Council’s staff has been instructed begin negotiations to sell the city’s half of the 155-acre area located at 66 Ave. and Interstate-880. It was reported that there was one Council member who abstained.
This is something of an about-face, and the reversal may be traced directly to the city’s financial picture going forward after the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“For me it is about looking at how things have changed when it comes to money,” Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo told the Chronicle before the meeting began.
“After the coronavirus shutdown, we are looking at a very, very serious budget deficit, and they are saying it could cost us $6 million just to maintain the site,” Gallo said. “We don’t have that kind of money. This way we can get some badly needed help.”
The A’s brought the Alameda County share for about $85 million, and expectations are that the City of Oakland would get about the same from the A’s and majority owner John Fisher.
It was just last October that the City sued the A’s in an attempt to block Alameda County from selling its share. The suit didn’t have a long shelf life, being withdrawn at the urging of Major League Baseball.
And it’s just possible that the A’s may have a more practical use for the site. Because of the pandemic, the club’s ability to borrow the money needed to go ahead with the Howard Terminal site may have been strained.
Add to that the fact that there is no easy car or public transportation access to the site just north of Jack London Square and the fact that there are legal challenges to the new site, and it may simply become more practical for the club to build a new stadium in the north parking lot at the Coliseum complex. BART and train services both are immediately adjacent, and I-880 offers a pair of exits to the Coliseum area.
If not and the Howard Terminal site goes forward, the A’s have hopes of creating a shopping, cultural and residential area on the 155 acres. The Coliseum itself would be razed, although the baseball diamond would become a large park. There would be new housing, office buildings, shops and restaurants. The Arena, which saw the Golden State Warriors move out after last season, would be developed into an events center.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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