The recent history of Oakland's O.Co Coliseum has been plenty messy, what with all the sewage. But now the plan to keep the Oakland Athletics at the stadium for 10 more years turned messy, too. Unexpectedly so.
A vote was planned Friday morning for the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority — an eight-member panel that operates the stadium — to give its approval to a new 10-year lease for the A's. But then four of the members of the panel, including two Oakland city council members, didn't show up for the vote.
It's a weird conclusion for a weird week in the ongoing A's stadium drama. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement Wednesday congratulating the A's on their new 10-year lease at the Coliseum, but no such deal had been approved. Reports started to circulate that the A's had agreed to new lease, but they were jumping the gun a bit, since Friday's vote was needed to finalize things.
This wasn't as done of a deal as some people — Selig included — thought. Politicking, apparently, got in the way. The San Francisco Chronicle explains what happened:
The four missing members included two City Council members who sit on the coliseum board: Rebecca Kaplan and Larry Reid. The other two were Aaron Goodwin and Yui Hay Lee, both appointees of the city of Oakland. Kaplan's spokesman, Jason Overman, said the councilwoman had no comment about missing the meeting. Kaplan is running for mayor. Reid could not be reached for comment.
Sources close to the negotiations said the Oakland City Council met in closed session Wednesday and voted to bar Kaplan and Reid from attending Friday's meeting. Other members of the Coliseum authority were livid.
"I'm shocked and upset and very disturbed," said authority chair, Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who attended Friday's meeting. "We feel like we're hampered from doing our business because the city has taken this position. At this stage, it's just shocking."
To some people, it has to be a surprise that the A's were even going back to the Coliseum, one of the worst stadiums in baseball. But they have no other option at this point. The organization has tried and failed to move out of Oakland a couple times over the past decade — including to San Jose, where the San Francisco Giants claim territorial rights. The City of San Jose ended up suing Major League Baseball in hopes of bringing the A's to the South Bay, but that has mostly been thrown out of court.
Lately, it seemed like other sites in Oakland might be considered for a new A's stadium. There were beautiful plans for a waterfront stadium that would rival San Francisco's AT&T Park, but both ownership and MLB aren't behind it. So with their lease running out in 18 months, the A's were stuck entering into a new lease with the Coliseum. Or so they thought.
It's unclear what will happen next, though this certainly doesn't bode well for the relationship between Oakland and the A's. From the East Bay Citizen:
The further postponement of action on the 10-year lease could have great implications for keeping the Athletics’ ownership and Major League Baseball happy, said Miley. He cited previous support from MLB Commissioner Bud Selig for Oakland as the impetus for bringing the Athletics and the JPA together in talks to build a stadium in the East Bay and not San Jose, as ownership had long desired.
“I think Major League baseball wants to keep the A’s in Oakland,” said Miley. “But, by us not being able to vote on this vote today I really think that sends a chilling message, a bad message to Major League Baseball that is extremely disappointing.” Miley added today’s developments, on its own, could “bring the entire JPA structure crumbling down” in Oakland and Alameda County.
The A's are back in a familiar place. They're stuck, seemingly unwanted by one city and blocked from moving to another.
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