A's, Oakland Coliseum Authority reach 10-year agreement

A's, Oakland Coliseum Authority reach 10-year agreement
July 3, 2014, 10:00 am
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If the A's and Oakland don't reach an agreement by Thursday, owner Lew Wolff can relocate the team. (USATSI)

After months of negotiating and public bickering between parties, the A’s announced a 10-year lease extension Thursday to continue playing at the Oakland Coliseum through the 2024 season.

The lease was approved in a 6-2 vote from members of the Oakland-Alameda County Joint Powers Authority (JPA) that operates the Coliseum. It still must be approved by the city of Oakland and Alameda County later this month, but that appears a formality.

The final agreement came only after contentious negotations between the team and city and county officials. With Oakland City Council members set to vote against the proposed lease as recently as Wednesday, A’s co-owner Lew Wolff notified city and county leaders that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig granted the A’s permission to immediately leave Oakland should the lease not get approved by Thursday.

[RATTO: Selig's toothless threat breaks logjam]

“After much diligence and cooperation from both parties, we are delighted to make this announcement today,” Wolff said in a statement. “We believe this agreement works well for city and county taxpayers, the team, A’s fans and all involved. It provides stability for the A’s while also improving fan and player experience with significant upgrades and improvements at the facility.”

As CSN California has previously reported, the A’s will spend in excess of $10 million to install new HD scoreboards in left and right field as well as ribbon scoreboards between the first and second decks. The A’s say those will be installed by Opening Night of next season. The money for the scoreboards settles a $5 million dispute between the team and the JPA over alleged back rent the team owed.

The JPA reportedly will contribute to an annual maintenance fund to help fix structural issues at the Coliseum such as the sewage problems that have garnered such negative national attention over the past couple of years.

“This is truly a fantastic day for Oakland A’s fans, Oakland taxpayers, public entities, and the team,” said Coliseum Authority Chairman Nate Miley, who serves as an Alameda County Supervisor. “By reaching this agreement, both the franchise and the community have charted a course of stability for the next decade. We know that the A’s and their loyal, passionate fans will be connected for years to come at the Coliseum site.”

The A’s current lease was due to expire after next season. Although the new lease extension ensures the team will remain at the Coliseum beyond that, the big-picture reality is that the A’s ballpark ambiguity will carry on. The team still desires to build a new stadium somewhere in the Bay Area.

A move to San Jose looks increasingly unlikely as that city is locked in a lawsuit against MLB over the right to lure the A’s, and the Giants show no interest in surrendering their territorial rights to San Jose.

Increasingly, Wolff has shown more openness to the idea of building a new ballpark in Oakland. He’s gone on record saying he believes the current Coliseum site is the best place for a new venue in the city, a position that Selig supports. A group of Oakland business leaders have proposed a waterfront ballpark near Jack London Square, an idea that Wolff has shot down as unfeasible.

A solid plan to build a new ballpark at the current Coliseum site has yet to materialize, and it’s complicated by the fact that the Raiders would also like a new football stadium on the same site.

Wolff indicated last week that the new lease would require that the A’s be given two years’ notice if the Raiders were to plan to build a stadium at the Coliseum site that would interrupt the A’s playing there.

The A’s reportedly have the freedom to break the lease were they to build a new ballpark elsewhere, but they must give two years’ notice if they were to leave. In that case, the team would still be on the hook for the annual rent payments through the lease’s full term.

The A’s annual rent under the new agreement would start at $1.75 million annually and drop to $1.25 million over the duration of the lease.

 

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