Coliseum Pushback 

Progressives oppose selling landmark to the A's

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A‌group of Oakland progressives led by former Oakland mayoral candidate Pamela Price wants the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee to oppose the city's proposed sale of its half of the Coliseum complex to the Oakland Athletics.

Pushback by the Alameda County Democratic Party toward the proposed deal would be a significant development in the quest to build a new ballpark at Howard Terminal. The A's intend to develop the existing 120-acre Coliseum complex for housing, offices and open space.

The resolution brought to the Alameda County Democrats resolution committee asks local party officials to oppose the sale between the City of Oakland and the A's on the grounds that it will "potentially create economic devastation and blight to East Oakland."

The resolution, sponsored by Price and the East Bay Democratic Club, is similar to talking points offered previously by the International Longshore Warehouse Union, who assert a ballpark at the waterfront will lead to the loss of high-paying jobs at the Port of Oakland. The Howard Terminal site near Jack London Square, however, is vacant.

The proposed $85 million price tag for the Coliseum property is also below market value, according to the resolution, "and at discounted price, could deprive the city of hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, while unjustly enriching a billionaire family at our expense."

Alameda County labor leaders, including the Building Trades, were vehemently opposed to the resolution, according to three people who attended the virtual executive meeting. Several Alameda County Democratic Party leaders also registered opposition to the resolution.

Traditionally, Alameda County Democrats and labor unions have formed a tight and lasting bond. Political opposition to not one, but possibly two major building projects in Oakland, would appear unlikely.

The resolution committee ultimately made no determination on moving the proposal forward for a vote by the full Central Committee. Instead, the item was tabled until next month's meeting.

The move by Oakland progressives comes as a gathering storm of hardball politics by the A's and local activists becomes more public in advance of an Oakland City Council vote on the ballpark project, possibly coming next summer.

The A's took aim at Schnitzer Steel, a potential neighbor at the waterfront and ballpark opponent, by way of a lawsuit against the state Department of Toxic Substances Control last week. The complaint alleges the government body failed to regulate the metal recycler's pollution in West Oakland. The lawsuit is the team's most aggressive move to date against an opponent of the waterfront ballpark project.

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