A’s co-owner Lew Wolff cautioned Wednesday that a 10-year lease extension for his team to remain at the Oakland Coliseum has yet to gain final approval.
But he shared some thoughts on the topic on the same day that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig declared public support for the direction the team is heading on its ballpark issue.
Wolff reiterated that the A’s are committed to spending at minimum $10 million to make improvements at the Coliseum. Most of that will go toward replacing the outdated scoreboards in left and right field, as well as installing a new ribbon scoreboard between the first and second decks.
"I think you’ll walk in and say, ‘Well, they don’t have a new ballpark, but it sure looks different,'" Wolff told CSN California.
He said the original plan was to have construction on the scoreboards completed by the fall, in which case the Raiders could have utilized them for football season. Now the timeline is more hazy as final details on a long-term extension have taken longer to hammer out than expected.
The Coliseum’s Joint Powers Authority, Oakland city leaders and Alameda County supervisors need to give final approval. A vote could happen as soon as Friday.
As for Wolff’s desire to eventually build a new ballpark, Selig, in a statement, expressed his agreement with the A’s that their best spot to build a new ballpark in Oakland is at the current Coliseum site, and not Howard Terminal, an area that has gotten support from local business leaders.
“The best land, the most available land is the land … around the Coliseum,” Wolff said.
The A’s, of course, also have long had designs on moving to San Jose, but that issue is held up in court, as the Giants own territorial rights to Santa Clara County and aren’t willing to let the A’s move there.
Wolff has sounded more receptive of late to potentially building a ballpark in Oakland. But there’s been so many years of inactivity – Selig appointed a committee to study the A’s situation way back in March 2009 -- that Wolff says much of the research the A’s have done for building a new venue now needs updating.
“I’m not going to commit to building a ballpark in San Jose or Oakland until we study it more,” Wolff said. “We haven’t studied it in three or four years.”
A 10-year lease extension at the Coliseum would buy time for the A’s to figure out a plan. Wolff confirmed that the 10-year extension has escape clauses. If the Raiders, for example, moved forward with plans to build a football stadium at the Coliseum site that would disrupt the A’s baseball schedule, they would be required to give the A’s two years’ notice of such plans.
And if the A’s, for example, ever did get the green light to build a new stadium in San Jose, they can leave the Coliseum, but they would still be obligated to pay rent for the remaining years on the 10-year lease extension.