Faced with a lack of redevelopment funds seized by the state, Oakland is dropping its plans for a new Athletics ballpark at Victory Court — leading the way for a move of the team to San Jose.
Regular readers of Ballpark Digest have followed the issues posed to professional sports by the decision from the state of California to divert redevelopment funds from cities and counties to the state to pay for essential services. We also wrote that MLB insiders told us without a doubt the A’s would not be allowed to move if Oakland still had a shot at developing a new ballpark. Those two developments collided last fall and this winter, giving San Jose fans a chance to cheer.
Without redevelopment funds, it would virtually impossible for cities and counties to fund new sports facilities, including new ballparks, unless an alternate form of financing (i.e., a local sales tax) is established. The decision by the state already killed one minor-league ballpark project in Escondido, and it apparently has killed Oakland’s plans to fund and finance a new ballpark at Victory Court in downtown Oakland.
“We are no longer advocating for Victory Court,” Gregory Hunter, head of the soon-to-be-dissolved Oakland Redevelopment Agency, said Monday during a meeting of the Alameda County supervisors covered by the San Jose Mercury News. Supervisors said they’d shift their efforts to a new A’s ballpark at the current O.co Coliseum site, but that’s iffy at best: the county may not even have the $3.7 million promised to JRDV, HKS and Forest City to study the feasibility of an overhaul of the sports complex, which includes Oracle Arena. And if the county is barely able to scrape up the $3.7 million for a feasibility study, it’s hard to see a situation where a new ballpark is in the works.
All of this puts San Jose one step closer to acquiring a new A’s ballpark. San Jose worked to put parcels intended for a ballpark outside the redevelopment process, so the withdrawal of redevelopment funds won’t affect Lew Wolff’s plan for a privately financed ballpark. The issue will be persuading the Giants to give up territorial control of San Jose, which will be a huge challenge for Commissioner Bud Selig — but at the end of the day Selig usually gets what he wants, even if he needs to twist a few arms and ask Lew to pay an appropriate territorial fee to the Giants.
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