A’s score walkoff win in Coliseum lease battle
In a dramatic last-minute deal, the board that manages the O.co Coliseum voted 6-2 on Thursday to approve a new 10-year lease for the Oakland A’s.
Representatives for the baseball team, the city of Oakland and Alameda County have been in negotiations for 14 months on an extension to the A’s current lease that expires at the end of 2015.
The new lease was up for a vote at Thursday morning’s meeting of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Joint Powers Authority and initially appeared headed for a deadlock between Oakland’s four representatives on the board and the four from the county.
City Councilman Larry Reid, vice chair of the JPA, said Wednesday that the City Council had instructed its four members to vote against the lease proposal.
However, Reid and one of Oakland’s other members, architect Yui Hay Lee, voted in favor of the lease agreement today after A’s owner Lew Wolff said late Wednesday night that he had received approval from Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to move the team outside Oakland immediately unless a deal was approved.
The A’s have threatened to move to Fremont and San Jose in recent years. Alameda County’s four representatives on the JPA, including Supervisor Nate Miley, who chairs the board and scheduled Thursday’s meeting, were the other four votes in favor of the lease extension through the end of 2024.
The agreement must still be approved by the City Council and the Board of Supervisors. Reid said after the meeting Thursday that he decided to vote in favor of the lease agreement, even though the City Council had instructed him to vote against it. Reid said of the decision:
“…because I can change my vote if I believe it’s in the best interest of the city.”
Reid said he talked to council president Pat Kernighan and other councilmembers and they agreed that he could vote in favor of the lease if he thought it was the best thing to do. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan voted against the agreement, as did sports agent Aaron Goodwin, Oakland’s fourth member on the board.
Kaplan said she didn’t want to go against the council’s wishes. She added:
“I’m fully committed to working with all sides so that there’s a strong future for both the A’s and the Raiders football team in Oakland.”
Miley said he expects the Board of Supervisors to vote on the agreement on July 29 and Reid said he expects the City Council to vote on it by the end of the month. Miley said:
“It was important that Major League Baseball weighed in on this because they made clear that if we couldn’t get a deal done they would give permission for the A’s to leave Oakland… It was crucial that the City Council understand the importance of this vote to keep the A’s in Oakland.”
Reid said some City Council members “still have some issues” with the lease agreement but he said he thinks they can be resolved. The lease agreement requires the A’s to give the JPA two years’ notice of their intent to move to another city if they decide to leave Oakland.
The A’s annual lease payments would start at $1.75 million a year, about $250,000 more than the team is paying now, but would eventually drop to $1.25 million. The proposal would forgive the A’s more than $5 million that the baseball team has deducted from past rent payments to offset a city parking tax.
Instead, that money would go toward a $10 million scoreboard that the A’s would buy and install before the beginning of the 2015 MLB season.
One of the issues in the lengthy negotiations has been whether it would be economically feasible for both the A’s and the Raiders to build new stadiums in Oakland. Miley said he thinks that’s possible and at the very least, he said the lease agreement “keeps our options open.”
— Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News