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A new mindset in Oakland?

Oakland Coliseum City

We may have a new Oakland mayor and a new MLB commissioner, but the politics surrounding the Oakland Athletics‘ efforts toward a new ballpark remains the same — and all sides are still talking an Oakland location.

New MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred made it clear in an AP interview that he was comfortable following Bud Selig’s stance on the future of the A’s centered in a new Oakland ballpark.

“I don’t think of the Oakland issue as Oakland-San Francisco. Oakland needs a new stadium,” Manfred said Monday. “There’s a new mayor in Oakland. We just prevailed in the San Jose litigation, so things are moving around a little bit out there, and I’m hopeful we can make progress on getting a new stadium in Oakland in the relatively short term.” Libby Schaaf is the new Oakland mayor, and she’s also said a goal for her administration is a new A’s ballpark.

That stance has apparently resonated with A’s co-owner Lew Wolff, who said that Schaaf’s election “re-energized” him on the possibility of a new A’s ballpark in Oakland. And the city is already following up with a potential ballpark site at the current O.Co Coliseum complex, partnering with Alameda County on a 90-day agreement with a developer looking at transforming the site into a sports and entertainment destination. This could potentially include a new Oakland Raiders stadium as well.

Most importantly, the agreement isn’t exclusive: Wolff can develop his own plan for a ballpark/sports entertainment development and present it to city and council authorities.

There have been a lot of false starts with a new Oakland Athletics ballpark. The commissioner’s office — whether it be Bud Selig or Rob Manfred — has been steadfast about giving Oakland every chance to partner on a new ballpark. Years ago we wrote that the move of the A’s wouldn’t happen until Oakland gives up the ghost, and the reporting was true: San Jose was never a serious destination for the A’s in MLB circles so long as the San Francisco Giants opposed the move of a team into their territory. Owners take territorial rights very seriously, and folks who failed to heed that fact were snookered into assuming rights could be easily waived.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of optimism about the potential of a new sports complex at the Coliseum site. It may not be as grand as the original Coliseum City plans — but something a little more modest may be a much more economically viable proposition.

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