Friday, March 9, 2012

Coliseum City: Oakland’s Only Shot at Keeping the A's

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 10:35 AM

The Oakland City Council made the right call this week to move forward with the Coliseum City project, a proposed privately financed development that could provide new homes for the A’s, the Raiders, and the Warriors amid a large retail, housing, and entertainment district. Although it appears to be a long shot as to whether Coliseum City will ever get built, the project may represent the only hope Oakland has at keeping its sports teams. In fact, without Coliseum City, it’s a good bet that Oakland will lose all three.

For starters, Oakland A’s co-owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher have made their desire to move the team to San Jose crystal clear. Recent reports, however, indicate that Major League Baseball will not go along with the move because the San Francisco Giants own the territorial rights to the South Bay. Wolff and Fisher strongly contest this issue, but MLB obviously feels differently. If it didn’t, then it would have approved the A’s move by now. After all, the league’s blue ribbon panel has been studying the A's proposal for more than three years, and has yet to make a decision.

If MLB rejects the A’s plans for San Jose, then Wolff and Fisher appear likely to try to sell the team. They’ve made it clear that they don’t want to be in Oakland. But such a sale could result in the A’s leaving the Bay Area. Or, Major League Baseball may simply choose to dissolve the A’s as a franchise. Either of these scenarios, however, could be made less likely if Oakland can get a private developer to build Coliseum City. A new ballpark for the A’s would be a big attraction for anyone interested in buying the team, and would make the league think twice about contracting the franchise.

Coliseum City
  • Coliseum City

The Raiders, meanwhile, look to be a prime candidate for one of the new planned football stadiums in Los Angeles. The National Football League is mulling two stadium proposals in LA — including one at LA Live (the development that Coliseum City is modeled after) — and plans to select one that would house two teams. Since Los Angeles has no teams now, and the league has shown no interest in adding new franchises, then two teams would need to move there. The Raiders are among the teams rumored to be on the list, along with the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams.

The Raiders also have been rumored to become possible tenants with the San Francisco 49ers at the Niners’ new stadium in Santa Clara. However, the prim and proper city of Santa Clara doesn’t seem to be a good fit with a rough-and-tumble Raiders. By contrast, a new football stadium in Oakland would be a better fit for the Raiders than either Santa Clara or LA.

As for the Warriors, they’re perhaps the most important of the three pro sports teams in Oakland. In fact, Oakland has proven over the years to be a basketball town. The Warriors have consistently sold out the Arena, even when they’ve had terrible teams. That hasn’t been the case with the A’s and Raiders.

But as popular as the Warriors are in Oakland, the team has never returned that love. The franchise still refuses to put Oakland in its name. Moreover, the Warriors seem genuinely interested in the possibility of a new home in San Francisco near AT&T Park. Indeed, if Coliseum City is not built, the Warriors seem destined to go back across the Bay.

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