The Oakland Athletics have announced that they will not sign a term sheet for a new ballpark with the city of Oakland. The team has asked to be released from its contract with the city, which is set to expire at the end of 2018.
The Oakland Athletics have approved a new ballpark term sheet, but the team says it is not an effective path forward.
The Oakland City Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to approve a nonbinding term sheet for the Oakland Athletics’ planned waterfront stadium, but the session concluded with questions about whether the city and the club would continue to negotiate.
During the meeting, A’s president Dave Kaval said that the revised term sheet, which includes municipal changes, “is not a commercial partnership that works for us,” echoing his remarks from Monday, when he told ESPN that a “yes” vote under the city’s conditions was “equivalent to a “no” vote. Some of the changes — addressing affordable housing and anti-displacement measures, among other topics — concerned Kaval, who said the team was “still processing” some of them.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred voiced his displeasure with the city’s choice to vote on conditions that were unfamiliar to the A’s.
“The Athletics have spent substantial resources and made a big commitment to their community in the hopes of staying as Oakland’s sole major professional sports club for the past four years at my request and encouragement,” Manfred said in a statement. “We are unhappy that the City Council voted on a plan that the A’s did not support. We’ll start talking to the A’s right now about charting a course for the club’s future.”
At the end of the session, the A’s did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Council president Nikki Fortunato Bas, and Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan issued a joint statement calling the vote “a watershed moment in our mission to keep the A’s rooted in Oakland and build a world-class waterfront ballpark district that will benefit the community for generations.”
The city refused to subsidize a $352 million payment in off-site transportation improvements and infrastructure upgrades by creating a second financing district at Jack London Square, which is adjacent to the Howard Terminal site where the 35,000-seat stadium would be built, as the biggest issue coming in. “We think the city has addressed the problem the A’s highlighted as most important,” said city official Elizabeth Lake at the presentation, adding that the A’s will be repaid for the payment via local, state, federal, and other regional sources.
The A’s, it seems, were not on board.
When it was his time to speak, Kaval remarked, “The negotiations have progressed.” “We’ve moved and made concessions, and the city has made concessions, but it’s essential to remember that the current term sheet, even with these changes, does not represent a consensus among the A’s. It’s not a term sheet that we presented, with changes that we agreed on, and I just want to emphasize that voting “yes” on something that we don’t agree with or on which we don’t have consensus is not a productive way forward. So I’d want to work with the council to see if we can have something voted on before the [summer] break that we both agree on, rather than voting on something that doesn’t work for us.”
“I’m not quite [sure] why we’re even here today,” Carroll Fife, the lone Oakland City Council member who abstained from voting, clarified his position with Kaval.
“”I don’t know where we go from here,” Fife continued, “if the A’s aren’t happy with what was produced today and are still talking about leaving after the city has bent over backwards and provided some of their best work in the interest of Oakland residents, and come up with all of these concessions, even about how all of these wealthy owners don’t have to pay for off-site infrastructure.” If they continue to insist that they are not based in Oakland and refuse to accept what the city staff has put together, I’m not sure where we go from here. It’s not a bargaining situation. ‘Do as we say, or we’ll leave,’ is the actual message. That isn’t rooted at all. That isn’t courteous.”
The A’s have been looking for a new stadium in the Bay Area for the better part of two decades, visiting San Jose, Fremont, and various locations in Oakland, most notably near Laney College. Renovations to the existing Coliseum site, where the A’s have played since 1968, were ruled out due to the team’s expressed desire for a downtown location.
Only this newest stadium plan in the Port of Oakland seems to be standing in the way of the A’s leaving Oakland and following in the footsteps of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors and the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
The A’s said in April that they will privately fund the stadium, which is expected to cost $1 billion, as well as provide $450 million in community benefits and arrange for an additional $11 billion in private investment to ultimately develop the surrounding area. However, on Friday, the city of Oakland submitted a counterproposal that, according to Kaval, “lacks information and specificity and really doesn’t answer any of the concerns that we have that needed to be addressed in order to continue to go ahead.”
3,000 residential units, up to 1.5 million square feet of commercial space, up to 270,000 square feet of retail space, an indoor 3,500-seat performance center, 400 hotel rooms, and up to 18 acres of publicly accessible open space are also included in the project.
After the 2024 season, the team’s lease at what is now known as RingCentral Coliseum will end. The Howard Terminal facility, if authorized, would not be completed until 2027 at the earliest, leaving the A’s with a two-year gap to fill in Oakland.
Meanwhile, club executives have continued to look at Las Vegas and the neighboring regions as a possible replacement. Kaval and A’s owner John Fisher have visited southern Nevada three times this year and intend to do it again on Wednesday. Before last week’s All-Star Game, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said it would be “a mistake” to refer to the Las Vegas option as a bluff, instead calling it “a realistic possibility for a big league team.” If the team’s agreement with the city falls through, other cities such as Portland, Oregon, Nashville, Tennessee, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Montreal may be considered.
“We think the A’s can and should agree to the conditions agreed by the City Council today based on our lengthy discussions, common values, and shared vision,” the city said in a statement. “This is the route to keeping the A’s in Oakland in a manner that protects our Port and tax payers while still delivering the advantages our community expects and deserves.”
The Oakland approves new ballpark term sheet is a news item that the Oakland A’s have approved a new term sheet for their stadium. However, the team says they are not considering this as an effective path forward. Reference: new york jets.
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