Baseball being baseball and 2020 being 2020, the fact that the Oakland A’s have paid their rent to the satisfaction of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority isn’t going to be the final word on the matter.
The check was received Monday by the Authority and was deposited Tuesday. In a standard year, the payment would have been made by April 1, but the A’s used a clause in their contract to defer the payment because, they said, the stadium was not available to be used by the club because of state and county restrictions in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Baseball was shut down at the time, so playing a game or even working out wasn’t actually an option. The Coliseum Authority saw it differently, and said so publicly.
Now that they have paid, the A’s are adding a caveat – they may seek a partial refund. In a letter to the Coliseum Authority first obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, A’s president Dave Kaval dangled that possibility.
“While we have had very productive conversations with the Alameda County Health Department and are optimistic about our ability to develop a protocol for return to play without fans,” Kaval wrote on June 22, “we have not yet received written confirmation that we can return to play at the Coliseum.
“That said, rather than continuing with these protracted negotiations, we will pay the full stadium license fee for 2020 … and pursue a refund for all games not played as provided by our agreement.”
An attempt to get a response from the Coliseum Authority was unsuccessful.
Beyond that, the A’s are in the process of buying the City of Oakland’s 50 percent share of the Coliseum Arena site after having bought the half owned by Alameda County for $85 million in December. The deal, when done, would make the A’s both owner and tenant of the Coliseum.
Those sales both obligate the A’s to build a new baseball stadium in Oakland. The organization in proceeding with plans for a new site at Howard Terminal, about one-half mile north of Jack London Square on the Oakland waterfront.
However, the A’s, in the person of majority owner John Fisher, will be privately financed, and there has been some speculation that getting the funding may be more difficult now than it was six months about before the pandemic and the economic collapse.
If that makes the Howard Terminal plan untenable, the A’s ownership of the Coliseum Arena’s 155 acres would give the club a place to build a new stadium while continuing to play in the old one. Howard Terminal is just 55 acres and the land currently is owned by the Port of Oakland.
Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3
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