The Athletics will likely be the third professional sports team to move out of the city of Oakland if the local government can’t make accommodations for a new ballpark soon. Negotiations toward a new $12 billion ballpark and commercial district on the waterfront continue this week, so we’ll see what happens.
The current plan includes a 35,000-seat ballpark and a mixed-used development of 3,000 homes, 1.5 million square feet of office space, 270,000 square feet of mixed retail, a 3,500-seat performance theater, 400 hotel rooms and about 18 acres of parks and open space at Howard Terminal, which is part of the Port of Oakland near Jack London Square.
So far, the two sides have not found a solution for affordable housing, community benefits and infrastructure funding, such as streets, sidewalks and pedestrian bridges surrounding the site.
The city wants the A’s to contribute significantly to affordable housing development, as well as contribute millions of dollars in community benefits. These types of benefits range from local hiring all the way to providing relocation assistance to residents and businesses currently in the development zones.
The A’s want the city to form a separate assessment district encompassing the Jack London Square area to pay an estimated $350 million for such improvements as pedestrian and vehicle crossings to get A’s fans across train tracks to the ballpark.
The city council voted yesterday to move forward with negotiations, but only under the condition that the team fully agrees to its demands, many of which come from special interest groups and local unions.
It’s a messy situation that could be headed for divorce. Rumors of the team relocating to Las Vegas have been swirling for months, and at this point, it feels like negotiations to stay in Oakland are only happening to show that a sincere effort had been made.
“We are growing increasingly concerned that the council is going to vote on something that doesn’t match what we’ve proposed,” A’s President Dave Kaval said.
For the city to counter with its own terms for financing the project’s infrastructure and dictating other conditions without the team’s buy-in “is not an effective path forward,” Kaval said. Nevertheless, he added, “my phone is open.”
See you in Vegas next summer.