It seemed like the Oakland Athletics were heading in the right direction in their all-too-long quest for a new stadium and then Wednesday they hit a huge roadblock.
Back in September, the A’s announced they’d picked their “preferred site” for a new privately financed stadium. It was in Oakland, a 13-acre plot of land near Laney College that was minutes from downtown Oakland. It’s the property of the Peralta Community College District, which has its headquarters there, and the A’s knew they were going to have to do some negotiations to get the land.
And that’s where the roadblock comes in — the Peralta Community College District informed the A’s on Wednesday that they don’t even want to sit down at the table. From the San Francisco Chronicle’s Kimberly Veklerov:
At a closed-session meeting Tuesday, the board of trustees of the Peralta Community College District — whose offices stand where the ballpark would go — directed Chancellor Jowel Laguerre to discontinue “community engagement” talks with the team and to instead focus on what’s best for the college and its students and faculty.
The A’s were “shocked,” as they said in a statement in response to Peralta’s decision:
A's STATEMENT: We are shocked by Peralta’s decision to not move forward. All we wanted to do was enter into a conversation about how to make this work for all of Oakland, Laney, & the Peralta Community College District. We are disappointed that we will not have that opportunity.
— Oakland Athletics ⚾️ (@Athletics) December 6, 2017
Even Rob Manfred, the commissioner of Major League Baseball, encouraged starting a dialog, via Susan Slusser of The Chronicle:
Commissioner Rob Manfred on end to Laney Coll talks w A’s: “We applaud the efforts by the Oakland A’s over the last year to engage the community in an open dialogue about their new ballpark. Today’s news comes as a surprise and we urge Oakland leaders to rejoin the conversation.”
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 6, 2017
Perhaps this is a part of the negotiation — an indication that Peralta isn’t just going to make it easy for the A’s. Or maybe their feet are firmly planted in the ground. When the original plan was announced, there was some protest from the community. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the people who objected to the stadium were concerned about increased traffic and noise in the area, plus the possibility of gentrification. That, combined with Peralta needing to move its headquarters, might be enough to scoff at the idea entirely.
Either way, it’s the last thing the A’s wanted — another roadblock after years of roadblocks. There was a plan in place a decade ago for the A’s to move a few cities over to Fremont, but that fell apart because Fremont residents weren’t happy. Then the A’s wanted to move to San Jose and San Jose wanted the A’s. There were stadium sketches, a name and everything, but the San Francisco Giants have territorial rights to San Jose and wouldn’t relinquish them. That spawned years of lawsuits and court cases, but ultimately, the A’s and San Jose lost.
In recent years, the A’s have made it clear that they prefer to stay in Oakland. And Oakland seems to want the A’s. Unfortunately, the Bay Area in 2017 doesn’t just have empty plots of land that can fit a baseball stadium. The Oakland Raiders, after all, are moving to Las Vegas to get a new football stadium.
Libby Schaaf, the mayor of Oakland, wasn’t fond of the Peralta decision either but said Wednesday that the city is “fiercely determined” to keeping the A’s there.
Oakland remains fiercely determined to keep the @Athletics in Oakland. It is unfortunate the discussion w/ Peralta ended so abruptly, yet we're committed, more than ever, to working with the A’s and our community to find the right spot in OAK for a privately-financed ballpark.
— Libby Schaaf (@LibbySchaaf) December 6, 2017
Now the A’s find themselves in yet another uncomfortable position. The team is on record saying there’s “no Plan B” after the Peralta site. That doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a Plan B. The A’s could fall back on one of the long-talked-about ideas: Demolishing the current Oakland Coliseum and building a baseball-only stadium in its place. Or they could start looking outside Oakland again.
At this point, 12 years after the first plan for a new stadium was revealed, it would be tough to blame the A’s for whatever decision they make.
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