Oakland A’s GM David Forst confirmed what we’ve been reporting consistently: team ownership is focused on a new Oakland ballpark, with Las Vegas serving as a Plan B–for now.
Two weeks ago MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred clumsily posited that he was not optimistic about the chances of a new Oakland ballpark, leaving baseball Twitter to conclude the team was on its own way to Las Vegas and dropping its pursuit of a new Howard Terminal waterfront development that includes a new ballpark. Our response, based on information from folks close to the process, was that the A’s were still negotiating with Oakland, and Las Vegas was a distant Plan B. Furthermore, with no public money from the state or Clark County for a new ballpark, the chances for a new A’s ballpark were quite low.
At the MLB GM meetings in Las Vegas, Forst confirmed our reporting, per AP: “I’m aware of the commissioner’s comments, obviously,” Forst said, before noting team president Dave Kaval is the point person on the project. “I know [Kaval’s] working tirelessly in both spots. We’re just looking forward to having a new ballpark somewhere.”
Big projects take big time, and there’s been a choice for both the A’s and city of Oakland not to negotiate in the press. Perhaps the best way to view this is not a baseball story, but as a development story. The A’s have been terrible about Howard Terminal messaging, making it less about a massive investment in the city and more about the money they need for the ballpark to happen. The A’s have proposed a downtown Howard Terminal waterfront development featuring $12 billion in private investment, including a billion dollars for a new 35,000-capacity ballpark to replace the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as the team’s home. 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. It would represent a massive makeover of the Oakland waterfront, transforming a industrial site into a mixed-use development.
In the end, no city leader rejects a $12 billion development pitch where the vast majority of the funding will be privately financed.
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