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Oakland urges Alameda County support of new ballpark tax district

As a key Alameda County meeting regarding participation in a new tax district to benefit a waterfront Oakland Athletics ballpark approaches, Oakland city officials are urging supervisors to support the effort.

The city of Oakland and the A’s have already come to an agreement on the creation of an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD) to fund infrastructure upgrades in the Howard Terminal area. The A’s have proposed a downtown Howard Terminal waterfront development featuring $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 34,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Coliseum. The development would also include 3,000 units of housing, as well as 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of retail space, a 400-room hotel, 18 acres of parkland and an estimated $450 million in community benefits. 

The EIFD would benefit all businesses in the general area, not just the new A’s ballpark, but obviously the new development would be the biggest beneficiary of the fund. Oakland city officials have put together a fact sheet regarding the tax district, the benefits, and most importantly why Alameda County should support it. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors is set to discuss and approve the EIFD on Oct. 26. It would not be binding, however, but it would allow the process to move forward to the next round of negotiations between the team and the city.

“It is going to be incredibly important that the county votes to affirmatively state their intent to participate in financing the affordable housing and the public parks that are an integral community benefit for the total ballpark project,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I know the commissioner is definitely looking to see that progress. Many of us are counting on that as well.”

Speaking of the commissioner–MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, specifically–he expressed doubts about whether a new ballpark will end up being built in Oakland. Speaking at the CAA World Congress of Sports in New York, Manfred said:

“Particularly in the case of Oakland, we’ve had to open up the opportunity to explore other locations, just because it’s dragged on so long,” Manfred said. “And frankly, in some ways, we’re not sure we see a path to success in terms of getting something built in Oakland.”

Asked again if relocation is a possibility, Manfred said: “Yeah, (it) is a possibility. Yeah. I mean, they’ve been talking to Las Vegas. It’s gotten a lot of publicity, but there are options in terms of relocation in addition to Las Vegas.”

Maybe, maybe not. The Nashville Stars group led by John Loar remains active and has credibility in MLB circles. For the present, Stephen Bronfman and his investors are working in conjunction with the Tampa Bay Rays on a two-market team arrangement. On the flip side, the Portland Diamond Project has been very quiet as of late. And we’re still waiting for someone to identify any potential owners in Charlotte or Raleigh; you won’t get MLB expansion in North Carolina without a deep-pocketed roster of investors, and the last solid ownership group in the Charlotte area seemingly was led by Don Beaver, a long, long time ago.

Rendering courtesy Oakland Athletics.

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