As expected, a 10-year lease extension for the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum is expected to be initially approved tomorrow, giving both the team and the city flexibility in working out a new-ballpark agreement.
After years of debate and talks between the team and other municipalities, it now looks like A's ownership is on a path to a new Oakland ballpark. Yes, the San Jose lawsuit against MLB is on track for appeal later this summer, but with managing owner Lew Wolff expressing a willingness to discuss new ballpark at the Coliseum site, the team looks to be slated for a long Oakland occupancy.
The lease calls for a slightly higher rent -- $1.75 million annually, lowers to $1.25 million at the end of the term -- and commits the A's to paying off the lease even if the team moves. (These payments would be waived if the team moved to another Oakland ballpark.) The lease also calls for spending on some of the more pressing issues facing team and fan comfort, including the notoriously bad plumbing at the ballpark:
Sewage overflows and blackouts -- occasional occurrences at the stadium, which opened in 1966 -- are also addressed in the new lease. The Coliseum Authority would pay $1 million a year, with 5 percent annual increases, into a maintenance fund to fix the stadium problems.
The lease would also settle a $5 million dispute between the team and the authority over back rent. Instead of requiring the team to pay $5 million in what the authority argued was back rent, the team would agree to buy a new $10 million scoreboard system.
If approved by the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors, the next issue will be addressing the white elephant in the room: where to locate a new ballpark. Oakland officials had been pushing a ballpark development at Howard Terminal, a 50-acre site just north of Jack London Square, but both Wolff and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig have spoken out against the site, saying it would not work as a ballpark location. Instead, Wolff has expressed a willingness to talk new ballpark at the current Coliseum site, which is slated for a redevelopment that could also include a new Oakland Raiders stadium.
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