New lease for A's could be first step toward new stadium 

click to enlarge Oakland Athletics
  • AP Photo/Ben Margot
  • Oakland Athletics' Sean Doolittle works against the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014, in Oakland, Calif. Oakland won 3-0.
The approval of a 10-year lease for the Oakland A's to remain playing at the O.co Coliseum marks a significant step toward keeping the team in Oakland over the long term, city, county and team officials said today.

Team owner Lew Wolff appeared with members of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority along with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan following the vote at this morning's JPA meeting and reiterated his desire for a new stadium for the A's.

Wolff said that he and the rest of the A's ownership is making a sincere effort to stay in Oakland but are still looking at the possibility of sites outside the city as well.

"I always loved Oakland, I love our fans but we also have to have a new venue," Wolff said.

But for now, fans of Oakland baseball and football will be seeing the teams play in Oakland for at least a few more years, Wolff said. The Raiders, who currently share the Coliseum with the A's, are accommodated in the lease but "we both need new venues," Wolff said.

Quan said today that this is the first commitment the A's have made to talking about a new stadium in Oakland.

Quan has championed a Coliseum City development on the current site that would include new venues for the A's, Raiders and the Golden State Warriors basketball team, as well as a possible ballpark on the Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square.

Wolff has said that the team is not interested in a ballpark at the Howard Terminal site and Quan said today she doesn't care where the team ends up as long as they stay in Oakland.

"I wanted to make sure they had a choice," she said, noting that Howard Terminal has funding available and an environmental impact review in progress.

"I think that Oakland deserves this team," Quan said. "There's no better fan than an Oakland A's fan."

She said that the city is planning a victory parade down Broadway if the A's -- who currently have the best record in baseball -- go on to win the World Series.

Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who chairs the JPA, said that over his decades in local politics he has dealt with many different owners of sports teams and that the JPA has established a good working relationship with the A's ownership.

Miley said that relationship means there's a good chance the A's will stay in Oakland.

"I'm optimistic for the future," Miley said.

He said that Wolff coming to appear with the JPA and city and county leaders today signifies the mutual respect that they've developed over the negotiations.

"This particular lease is very important to all of us," Wolff said today. "It probably got a little more confusing than we thought."

The lease negotiations came close to falling apart several times during 15 months of negotiations, most recently when the Oakland City Council made last-minute changes in approving the agreement.

The lease includes an escape clause that allows the A's to leave the Coliseum after the 2018 Major League Baseball season. However, they would still have to pay rent until the end of the agreement in 2024 unless they moved to another site in Oakland.

The team has threatened to move to other cities such as San Jose or Fremont in recent years.

The agreement allows the city to force the A's out of the Coliseum if a deal to develop the site for a football-only stadium for the Oakland Raiders comes together.

Among other aspects of the deal include a plan for the A's to buy and install a new $10 million scoreboard for the Coliseum before the 2015 season.

"This is the conclusion of a long but important process," Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said at today's meeting. Kaplan credited county Supervisor Scott Haggerty and City Councilman Larry Reid with keeping negotiations moving.

The deal, she said, is worth $20 million to the public but includes no taxpayer subsidy and will improve the A's fan experience with improved lighting and the new scoreboard.

Kaplan reiterated that the city hopes to keep both the A's and Raiders in Oakland. To Raiders fans, she said, "We love you and your stadium will be part of our vision too."

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