OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Frustrated with delays in their plans to build a new waterfront ballpark, Oakland Athletics have received the green light from Major League Baseball to consider moving to cities outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan, citing sources, was the first to cover the recent turnaround in the A’s search for a replacement home for the aging Oakland Coliseum.
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“This really is the last facility that can operate in Oakland,” A team president Dave Kaval told KPIX 5.
Losing the A’s would be the final blow to the city’s status as the home of a major sports franchise. Oakland has already lost the NFL’s Raiders to a new stadium facility in Las Vegas that opened last year. Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors moved to San Francisco in late 2019 when the team was building the Chase Center.
The possibility of the third and final pro sports franchise leaving Oakland is heartbreaking for Chris Dobbins of Save Oakland Sports. “It would be devastating. It would be devastating to have already lost the Warriors and lost the Raiders to finish third on our team in five years, ”Dobbins told KPIX 5.
Team owner John Fisher said the team will continue tracking the location at the waterfront Howard Street Terminal, but will also look elsewhere.
“The A’s future success depends on a new ballpark,” said Fisher. “Oakland is a great baseball city and we will continue to pursue our waterfront ballpark project. We will also be following MLB’s direction to explore other markets. “
The team plans to build a baseball stadium and mixed-use development in the Port of Oakland that will include up to 3,000 residential units, a hotel, parks, and commercial and retail space.
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“MLB is concerned about the progress of the A-ballpark’s new efforts with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “The A’s have worked very hard over the past four years building a new ballpark in downtown Oakland. You have invested significant resources and faced several roadblocks at the same time. We know they continue to be deeply committed to success in Oakland. With two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is more important than ever.
“The Oakland Coliseum location is not a viable option for baseball’s vision of the future. We’ve directed athletics to explore other markets while they continue to operate a waterfront ballpark in Oakland. Athletics needs a new baseball field to stay competitive. So it is now in our best interests to consider other markets as well, ”continued the league.
Kaval said, “We’re going to work with the league right away to work with other communities and see what other options are there because we really have to start and understand what’s out there.”
Following the announcement, a spokesman for Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office said the city shared the league’s urgency.
“Today’s statement makes it clear that the only viable way to get the A’s roots in Oakland is through a waterfront ballpark,” the mayor’s office said. “We have made great strides in getting the EIR certified and approved by the governor. Now, with the recent start of the financial discussions with the A’s, we are calling on our entire community – including regional and local partners – to band together and support a new, financially viable, world-class, fiscally responsible neighborhood that will improve and improve our city and region keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong. “
The East Oakland Stadium Alliance, a group that has spoken out in favor of the A’s staying in East Oakland and building a new stadium at the Coliseum site, issued its own statement Tuesday criticizing the team and owner John Fisher .
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“The Colosseum’s location is the ideal place to build a new stadium as it already has freeway access, public transportation and more than enough space to create a ‘baseball village’ that could revive East Oakland,” said the group. “Despite 50 years of history and four World Series victories, John Fisher and the A’s are now telling the East Oaklanders, without any explanation, that East Oakland is no longer good enough.”