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Wolff: No move to AT&T Park — yet

Oakland AthleticsAn A’s move to AT&T Park was indeed broached by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig during lease negotiations, but Oakland owner Lew Wolff says his team will play at Coliseum — for the time being.

The threat from Selig came as the A’s were engaged in some contentious lease negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority over an Coliseum lease extension. Basically, the two sides couldn’t agree on the length of the extension or how concessions revenue would be split, and by all accounts the authority sought to bind the A’s to a lease through 2021 with less in concessions revenue. Wolff and crew were seeking a shorter lease — five years or fewer, preferably two — with an out clause should the Oakland Raiders get permission for a new stadium. That’s when Selig stepped in and made the threat to move the A’s to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, according to Mark Purdy:

Naturally, the A’s balked at the Coliseum’s original terms for a longer lease. Miley and his fellow board members reportedly held firm, believing that the A’s had no other options but to play at in 2014. And at that point, MLB voices tossed out the concept of the A’s playing temporarily at AT&T Park until a new ballpark project could be developed elsewhere.

Confused yet? Here’s the most important thing to know: Major League Baseball truly is the driving force behind the A’s future. Because of the sport’s antitrust exemption, Selig has been able to keep the A’s from moving to San Jose. For the same reason, he could force the Giants to house the A’s in San Francisco, even against the Giants’ wishes.

And for the same reason, Selig can ask for a two-year A’s lease extension at the Coliseum and start looking for another city outside the Bay Area as a possible future home. It certainly seems Selig is running out of patience with Oakland.

So the threat was indeed made; no one denies that.

The threat also has an important side effect: it puts the Giants on notice that balking on any agreement with the A’s on San Jose could have some consequences.

The threat did work: the authority did back down on the length of the lease, and by all accounts the sides are close to agreement that would keep the A’s at Coliseum for 2014, according to AP:

It was unclear how many years Oakland is seeking for its lease, and the team declined further comment since no deal has been reached with the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority. Yet the Coliseum Authority also sounded encouraged by the progress, issuing a statement from board chair and Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley.

“We are working on a deal that we believe will be beneficial for both our tenant and the people of this community,” the statement said. “We are confident that everyone involved sees the value in continuing for as long as possible the 45-year relationship between the A’s and the City of Oakland. While we cannot comment on the specific issues now under discussion or on whether there is any basis to recent rumors that Major League Baseball has played a role in the discussions, we are optimistic that a final deal is close at hand.”

Look for the final lease to last for only two years, with options beyond.

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