After losing the Raiders to Las Vegas and the Warriors to San Francisco, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred warned Oakland leaders the A’s could be the next team to leave town.
Manfred threatened city officials that if Oakland doesn’t drop its lawsuit over the proposed sale of Coliseum land to the A’s, it would risk losing the team to Las Vegas or some other city.
“He kind of laid down the law,” Oakland City Councilman Larry Reid told the Chronicle in a published report Sunday. “The commissioner pointed out that Bay Area fans will soon be going to Las Vegas to see the Raiders and that unless things changed, Bay Area fans may be going to Las Vegas or elsewhere to see the A’s as well.”
The A’s negotiated an $85 million deal to purchase Alameda County’s half of 155 acres of Coliseum land it shares with the city, but last week the City Council filed a lawsuit to stop the sale. The city argued it wasn’t given a real opportunity to buy the County’s share of the land, which would give Oakland the right to determine future use of the property.
The A’s, though, have said they need to be able to redevelop the Coliseum to help them pay for their privately financed new stadium at Howard Terminal. Manfred shares the A’s opinion — the Chronicle reported Manfred feels the Athletics’ ability to redevelop the Coliseum while building at Jack London Square is an “all in one” deal.
Manfred’s threat about baseball being willing to allow the A’s to leave Oakland may just be a strong-armed attempt to get the A’s back on track toward a new ballpark. After all, the commissioner has in the past rejected the idea of the team leaving Oakland, saying last year, “I believe that there is not another market in the United States that has the upside potential that Oakland has, and I think we would regret leaving Oakland.”
Nonetheless, Manfred’s warning has seemed to resonate with the city. Since the suit was filed, Oakland officials have shown a renewed desire to negotiate rather than litigate.
Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s City Council President, released a statement Thursday that read, in part, “in the interest of reducing strife and litigation, the Oakland City Council has unanimously asked our administration to meet directly with county leaders on strategies to resolve issues regarding our shared public property.”
The council, as well as Mayor Libby Schaaf, have indicated they’d like to figure out a plan for the Coliseum property that appeals to the A’s, the city and the county.
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