Alameda County bid to stop flight of ‘A’s’



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Oakland Athletics stadium update October 2021 Image: Oakland Athletics

The prospect of the Major League Baseball (MLB) (US) team Oakland ‘A’s’ remaining in the San Francisco Bay Area (US) instead of relocating to Southern Nevada in Nevada (US) got a boost on October 26th from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

The ‘Las Vegas Review Journal’ stated that the Board voted 4-1 recently to declare its intent to opt in to a proposed tax district aimed at paying for any infrastructure costs tied to the A’s waterfront ballpark project.

The Oakland Athletics, often referred to as the ‘A’s’, are an American professional baseball team based in Oakland, California (US). The Athletics compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League West division. The team plays its home games at the Oakland Coliseum.

The 63,132-capacity Oakland Coliseum, branded as RingCentral Coliseum for naming rights reasons, is a multipurpose stadium in Oakland, California (US). It is located on 7000 Coliseum Way, adjacent to the Oakland Arena along Interstate 880.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is the five member non-partisan governing board of Alameda County, California. Members of the Board of supervisors are elected from districts, based on their residence.

The ‘A’s’ new venue plans include creating mixed-use development with up to 3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of offices and up to 270,000 square feet of retail uses. The proposed development at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal includes plans for a $12 billion mixed-use project built around a $1 billion, 30,000-seat waterfront ballpark.

The ‘Las Vegas Review Journal’ further stated that the vote is nonbinding, as the ‘A’s’, the City of Oakland and Alameda County officials will need to agree on binding terms at a later date. The vote on October 26th allows for work to continue on the issues still at hand, with Alameda officials able to walk away from the deal down the line if the final plan isn’t to their liking.

The ‘yes’ vote is a step toward possibly keeping the ‘A’s’ in Oakland. However, because of the non-binding nature of the vote, the ‘A’s’ still plan to continue pursuing their “parallel path” in the Las Vegas Valley.

The lone ‘no’ vote came from the Alameda County Board President, Keith Carson, who said the county had more important issues at hand – “The fact that we oversee public hospitals, an analogy I wanted to use is that we’ve been in the surgery room almost every single day trying to keep patients alive and now we’re being asked to go to Las Vegas to play the one-armed bandit. When our responsibility is to stay in the surgery room and try to keep and save as many people as possible.”

The Board meeting held on October 26th lasted more than five hours, as the City, county and area stakeholders presented information related to the site and possible project, and the public chimed in both in opposition and support of the Howard Terminal plan.

Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle said he hoped the ‘A’s’ would pay for any third-party studies the county might need to be carried out to decide on the binding agreement. ‘A’s’ President Dave Kaval said the team would do that, as it has for the City of Oakland previously.

Said Valle during the meeting, “I would feel very comfortable moving forward, to explore the possibilities… I do support exploring further. We can now proceed in a way that is more informative and a little bit less emotional than the personal feelings by the way we got burned by the Oakland Raiders and the Golden State Warriors. I’d be willing to set those aside. I think, again in my heart, that the potential here is great for the City, which is begging for some economic development.”

A binding agreement would lock the City and the county into the tax district for 45 years, governed by a public finance board.

A proposal approved by the Oakland City Council in July – one the ‘A’s’ didn’t agree with – would create a tax district to generate money to repay the team for infrastructure-related costs at the site of the planned waterfront ballpark site. In order for that to work, the county needs to opt-in.

According to Kaval, the ‘A’s’ and Oakland officials have been negotiating on the outstanding items in the plan, including affordable housing, infrastructure and community benefits. All sides are also awaiting a finalized environmental impact study.

The Alameda County officials initially hoped to vote on the tax district in September, but that was delayed in part due to the ‘A’s’ disapproval of the City’s plan.

After MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier in October that he wasn’t sure he saw a path to success in Oakland for the ‘A’s’, the county reconsidered, and in a letter to the City, cited the real possibility of losing another professional sports team from the area.

Kaval has been adamant the team is running out of time at its current home, RingCentral Coliseum, which was built in 1966 and renovated in 1996 but has been plagued by sewage issues over recent years, lighting problems and low attendance.
 

Frequenting Las Vegas

The ‘A’s’ have made six trips to the Las Vegas Valley to explore possible relocation sites, after Major League Baseball gave them permission in May to do so.

‘A’s’ brass have reviewed more than 20 sites in Southern Nevada, with Kaval saying a list of the final three or four sites would be released soon.

The ‘A’s’ are carrying out their due diligence toward identifying where a possible 30,000-seat, $1 billion stadium would work in the Las Vegas Valley and how that would be financed. No matter where the ‘A’s’ end up, Kaval and the team are looking to figure that out soon.

Added Kaval, “We’re supportive at the end of the day of getting the project done. We have already taken too long, at least in our mind. So, we’re just trying to find a feasible path forward.”

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