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Developer: I can build new A’s ballpark with private financing

Oakland AthleticsHard to say how realistic this is, but a developer says he can build a privately financed ballpark for the Oakland Athletics at the current Coliseum site — provided Lew Wolff wants to keep the team in Oakland, that is.

Developer Rick Tripp told the Press-Democrat he can tap into foreign and domestic investors to build a new ballpark at the current Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum site, a scenario pushed by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan: a Coliseum City development that would combine new Athletics and Oakland Raiders facilities with new retail, housing and office space on the current Coliseum site as well as surrounding parcels. The advantages are many: the site is already served by mass transit, it’s easily accessible via freeway, and the land is already controlled by government entities. 

Tripp also tried to generate enthusiasm for sports-facility proposals in San Diego and Sacramento, to no avail. We’re talking some serious bucks for a Coliseum City development: you’re looking at a billion dollars for the stadia alone. Money, interestingly, has not be a big issue when it comes to a new Oakland Athletics ballpark: Lew Wolff has consistently proposed a privately financed facility, first to Fremont and then to San Jose, and the problems at both areas had to do with NIMBY neighbors in Fremont and a lack of MLB approval for a San Jose move. 

Tripp says he’s not talked with the A’s, but would seek out a standard 30-year lease should the plan moves forward. Given that Wolff’s focus is on moving the team to San Jose — arguably a more lucrative scenario, staunchly opposed by the San Francisco Giants, who control the Silicon Valley territory — we’re guessing the response from Wolff will be a curt dismissal. But the proposal may have one side effect: it keeps the possibility of a new ballpark in Oakland, which means any decision on a move by Wolff can be put off by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

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