Posted by on March 26, 2018
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Categories: Bay Area

(by Jeff Shuttleworth/Dan McMenaminOakland at-large councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said today that she is “heartened” by the Oakland A’s desire to assume control of the Oakland Coliseum complex in exchange for paying more than $135 million in debt currently owed by the city and Alameda County at the site.

The baseball team on Sunday sent a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors expressing their interest in acquiring the Coliseum site, which is co-owned by the city and the county.

The Coliseum, the team’s current home, was one of three sites under consideration for a new privately financed ballpark. The A’s were also looking at Howard Terminal near Jack London Square and a Peralta Community
College District property near Lake Merritt.

In September, the Peralta board of trustees advised the team that they would no longer negotiate a sale of the site, eliminating the option near Lake Merritt.

In the letter sent Sunday by Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval, he wrote that “it has become clear that the A’s need to solidify control of the one site in Oakland that offers an assured path for the development of a new privately financed baseball venue — the existing Coliseum complex.”

Kaplan said in a statement, “This site is already publicly-owned, and large enough to accommodate both a new ballpark and supportive development such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and more.”

Kaplan previously sat on the board that oversees the complex’s operations and has advocated for the Coliseum site as the easiest and most accessible site for future development with the A’s.

She said, “The Coliseum site already has a BART station, easy freeway and parking access and an already-completed environmental impact report, making development of this site more cost-effective and with less time delay to completion.”

Kaplan added, “With some additional steps it can truly be a compelling and welcoming site, such as by building an improved, more attractive, and larger walkway from BART into the site, and developing additional uses on the site to serve fans and provide additional functions along with ballpark development.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilman Larry Reid, who represents the Coliseum area and is vice chair of the board that oversees the complex’s operations, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on the A’s proposal.

Kaval wrote that the A’s seek to purchase the complex, which includes the Oracle Arena, by paying all remaining debt service on the more than $135 million in debt owed by the two municipalities.

“If consummated, our offer would end the long-standing cash drain from the city and county’s general funds caused by ownership of the Coliseum, and ensure that the A’s possess one assured route to a new privately financed stadium in Oakland,” he wrote.

Kaval wrote that the team is still looking into the viability of the Howard Terminal site and has “had favorable preliminary conversations with various representatives” of the Port of Oakland.

However, “transportation solutions and the costs of large needed infrastructure improvements are major outstanding items for Howard Terminal, along with the numerous public agencies with jurisdiction of this waterfront
site,” he wrote.

The team is seeking to enter into a formal exclusive negotiating agreement regarding the Coliseum site, according to Kaval.

“This is a critical moment for the A’s and our community. The venue process has taken too long,” he wrote of a years-long process that has been complicated by the futures of the Oakland Raiders football team and
Golden State Warriors basketball team who also share the Coliseum complex.

The Raiders plan on moving to Las Vegas in the coming years, while the Warriors will move across the Bay to San Francisco.

“The future of the A’s is too important to further risk alternate uses of the Coliseum at this time,” Kaval wrote to the city. “We are grateful for your ongoing reception and support to help keep the A’s in Oakland.”