In expressing frustration over a recent lawsuit filed by the city, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred is said to have warned Oakland officials of a potential move of the Oakland A’s to Las Vegas if legal action halts new ballpark plans.
The City of Oakland recently filed a lawsuit against Alameda County over its previous decision to move forward with selling its 50% share of the 155-acre Coliseum site to the A’s for $85 million. While the sale has not been finalized, the county’s action was viewed as a boost to the A’s, who have proposed building a new ballpark at the waterfront Howard Terminal site while also taking on a separate redevelopment of the RingCentral Coliseum site and surrounding property.
From the A’s perspective, future redevelopment of the Coliseum property would help make a privately financed ballpark at Howard Terminal more viable, but the city’s lawsuit complicates the questions of whether the team will gain control of the county’s share of the property. Manfred has publicly expressed his displeasure with the lawsuit, and apparently expressed urgent concern to Oakland officials in meetings last week. It is being reported that Manfred warned city officials that if plans for the project stalled, the A’s and MLB might have to look beyond Oakland for a new ballpark, possibility at a location such as Las Vegas or another market. For their part, Oakland officials are starting to take steps that could lead to the city and county resolving their dispute without moving forward with the lawsuit. More from the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The commissioner pointed out that Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A’s as well,”[City Councilman Larry] Reid said.
Reid said that one way or another, he’s confident the lawsuit will go away.
It may already be starting to vanish.
On Thursday, [council President Rebecca] Kaplan issued a statement saying that “in the interest of reducing strife and litigation, the Oakland City Council has unanimously asked our administration to meet directly with county leaders on strategies to resolve issues regarding our shared public property.”
Thus far the A’s and MLB have been focused on finding a new ballpark solution in Oakland, which would prevent a relocation while addressing one of the league’s most pressing facility challenges. There is still reason to believe that the city and county will be able to move past the legal dispute, thus allowing discussion of the project to proceed in some form, but the A’s and MLB could be willing to look at alternatives if the pursuit of a new Oakland ballpark stalls.
In its lawsuit, the city–which jointly owns the Coliseum site with the county– is seeking an injunction that would stop the sale from proceeding and force negotiations between the city and the county. More exact parameters of the potential development could take shape over time, but the A’s have released a broad vision that includes tearing down the Coliseum, retaining Oakland Arena (formerly Oracle Arena) as an event venue, and redeveloping the surrounding the land with mixed-use amenities.
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