- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
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How does the 10-year lease agreement between Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Coliseum Authority to have the A’s keep playing for the next decade in O.co Coliseum affect the Oakland Raiders?
The knee-jerk reaction of the deal being approved by a 6-2 vote, under threat of MLB commissioner Bud Selig giving the A’s permission to move if the deal was not approved, is that 81 baseball home games is preferable to 10 NFL home games (two in the preseason, eight in the regular season). But the Raiders might now want to take their ball and go home ... wherever that might be -- Dublin, Concord, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, Parts Unknown.
Especially because two weeks before Thursday’s vote, Raiders owner Mark Davis said the Coliseum needed to be knocked down. Davis’ vision, of course, is Coliseum City. That would mean demolishing the Coliseum, which opened in 1968, and building new homes for both the Raiders, in the current south parking lot, and A’s, in the north parking lot.
It was after the Raiders’ final minicamp practice a few weeks ago that Davis told four reporters he did not consider the A’s a rival for the Coliseum site, although he did want A’s owner Lew Wolff to make his long-term intentions known.
The A’s 10-year lease, despite Wolff’s long-standing desire to move the team to San Jose, would seem to answer Davis. Still, there are reportedly many outs for the A’s, which would make a decade-long commitment a mere stopgap. Again.
Per MLB.com, “The deal permits the team to leave the Coliseum so long as it gives two years’ notice and continues paying the lease for the remainder of the two-year term. The A’s do not have to make these payments, however, if they move to another stadium within Oakland.”
Plus, in the news release from the A’s, the team announced, “The contract takes into account the possibility of progress towards building a new football facility for the Oakland Raiders. If private money becomes available for such a venue, the A’s and the Coliseum Authority recognize that a variety of next steps would be considered to ensure maximum flexibility for both the A’s and Raiders.”
Davis, meanwhile, has said the Raiders have $400 million to put toward a new stadium of their own. And, again, Davis wants new digs, not a refurbished and shared Coliseum.
“In order to do a really comprehensive building development there, you have to tear the Coliseum down to start with,” Davis told the San Jose Mercury-News after that last minicamp practice. “You can’t be putting the stadium in a corner here, because of infrastructure and all that. And I keep bringing that word up, but it’s a key word in this process.
“So the stadium’s got to come down. So [the A’s staying in the Coliseum] does make a problem, there’s no two ways about it.”
While the A’s have been dealing with the Coliseum Authority, the Raiders have been working with Colony Capital to get Coliseum City up and running. And the way Davis saw it, with the A’s lease up in 2015, before Thursday’s agreement, the Coliseum could have been torn down immediately thereafter.
“And that would get us into a stadium by 2019, I believe,” Davis said. “On that site.
“So it’s a tough situation. I’ve said that if the A’s were going to buy in and the A’s say, 'Yeah, we want to build on this site as well,' I’m all for it. Let’s build two stadiums and let’s do it.
“Selfishly I would like to be the only one there, but for the good of everybody, I’m all for it. Let’s do it. But make a commitment to it if you want. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to fit. Lew’s vision and Colony Capital’s vision don’t seem to mesh. So that’s where the problem is.”
Davis did not reply to messages Thursday now that the deal is all but official.
The A’s agreement still must be approved by the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.