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Athletics now own half of Oakland Coliseum complex

New Oakland Athletics Coliseum Redevelopment May 2019

In a deal that was made under different circumstances, the Oakland Athletics now own half of the Oakland Coliseum/Oakland Arena complex after paying $45 million to Alameda County.

The team agreed to buy the Coliseum site when a new Howard Terminal was still tops on the ownership’s ballpark wish list in 2019, with the A’s planning to tear down the Coliseum and replacing it with an amphitheater, as shown above. Since then, the A’s announced a move to Las Vegas, with plenty of details to come later–like where the team would play in 2025-2027.

So now the A’s are half-owners of the 155-acre Coliseum complex, which includes the ballpark, the Oakland Arena and the sea of parking surrounding both. It’s considered a prime piece of land with a desirable freeway location.

But ownership doesn’t mean control. The city and county are still paying off bonds on the complex, which prevents the A’s from a more active role in deciding the future of the complex. The sale to the Athletics has been challenged by a local citizen group, arguing that it should have been let to bid under California’s surplus lands act. And even though the agreement called for the A’s to pay $45 million when the team announced a move from Oakland, it won’t close until 2026.

And with litigation involved, there won’t be any decisions any time soon about the future of the complex. In theory, the A’s could continue playing at the Coliseum between now and the move to Las Vegas; city officials have so far placed a slew of unrealistic conditions on such an extension, including a replacement expansion team, but that could change. Some residents had pitched an WNBA expansion team for Oakland Arena, but an expansion team will instead play at Chase Center. Oakland Roots have pitched a temporary USL Championship stadium in the far reaches of the parking lot–or maybe at the Coliseum if available. The Pioneer League is poised to play at the Coliseum as well. And the city has discussed a sports/entertainent complex with the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

So, if anything, the county demanding payment from the A’s may have actually made a bad situation worse: it might have been a better play to scrap the deal and control the property with the city. Instead, you’ve got a situation where there’s a disinterested owner and government without the means to make too many changes to prime real estate.

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