After years of pursuing ballparks in other locations, it appears that Oakland A’s are taking a more active approach in their home city.
The search for a new ballpark has often taken the A’s beyond Oakland. Lew Wolff pitched Cisco Field to both Freemont and San Jose, with efforts for a privately-financed facility in the latter city stifled by a territorial dispute with the San Francisco Giants.
Though the ballpark conversation initially became silent after the San Jose initiative fell through, there have been some signs of renewed interest in Oakland. City officials have revisited the idea of building a ballpark at Howard Terminal, and Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has expressed his desire to see the A’s stay put.
Certainly actions from the city and the league point toward Oakland being able to keep the A’s, but the team obviously needs to be heavily involved in the process. Some see the recent developments as a sign of progress. More from the San Jose Mercury News:
John Fisher personally checking out the Howard Terminal site. Lew Wolff planning to build a much-needed hotel in Oakland. The A’s brass seem to be all in. Finally.
“They are committed to the idea that they need to get something done in Oakland,” Manfred told the media before Game 3 of the NLDS at AT&T Park. “I’ve told them. They understand that it is my strong preference that the team stay in Oakland.”
It doesn’t matter if the reason is that Fisher and Wolff are out of options, or if they are getting pressure from MLB. What matters is there is more optimism about a new stadium for the A’s in Oakland than ever. What matters is there might be some redemptive value in the ownership group.
In looking at the scenario, the key questions that come up relate to the funding and prospective ballpark location. Oakland is unlikely to chip in significant funds for the ballpark, which increases the importance of the ability of the A’s and other private entities forming a plan that can work.
Another is the site. The A’s are not believed to be in love with the Howard Terminal location, and there already signs that they are exploring alternatives. Remaining at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum could be a viable option, but that depends largely on what happens to the Oakland Raiders, whose effort to receive state funding for a new stadium in Las Vegas cleared a major hurdle on Tuesday.
For all sides involved, there is an incentive to get a project off the ground sooner rather than later. The A’s have been looking to leave the outdated Coliseum for years, and would like to finally see a resolution that allows them to have a more competitive revenue stream. Oakland, meanwhile, is facing the potential loss of the Raiders and could see the Golden State Warriors move to San Francisco as early as 2019.
As for MLB, having the A’s and Tampa Bay Rays in new ballparks would resolve two of the league’s biggest facility issues. That could, in turn, clear the path for expansion, something that Manfred has said he is interested in exploring.
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