A's to explore relocation amid stadium push

May 11th, 2021

Concerned about a lack of progress in their efforts to privately finance a new state-of-the-art ballpark in downtown Oakland, the A’s have begun actively pursuing relocation.

The decision comes after Major League Baseball issued a statement on Monday instructing the A’s to explore other markets as they continue to pursue their proposed waterfront ballpark near Howard Terminal in Oakland.

"MLB is concerned with the rate of progress on the A's new ballpark effort with local officials and other stakeholders in Oakland," the league’s statement said. "The A's have worked very hard to advance a new ballpark in downtown Oakland for the last four years, investing significant resources while facing multiple roadblocks. We know they remain deeply committed to succeeding in Oakland, and with two other sports franchises recently leaving the community, their commitment to Oakland is now more important than ever.”

The A’s proposed project at Howard Terminal includes a plan for 3,000 new homes in addition to a new 34,000-seat stadium, 18 acres of new parks and open spaces all around the area. A’s president Dave Kaval has urged Oakland City Council to vote on the new stadium project before summer recess, which begins July 28 and runs through Aug. 31.

“It’s important to remember that we made a proposal to the city that they’re sitting on,” Kaval told MLB.com. “We’re hopeful that they take that up before the summer recess. It’s a really robust financial offer to privately finance the stadium, invest $12 billion in private capital and have $450 million in community benefits. That’s something that we’ve advanced as an organization. I think it’s important that people know that and know we’re still pushing towards that. But at the same time, we’re running out of time here at the Coliseum. “

The current lease on the Oakland Coliseum, where the A’s have called home since 1968, expires in 2024. Though some view the Coliseum grounds as an acceptable site to build a new facility, the A’s and MLB have both taken the position that the location is not a viable option for the future of the club. Kaval cited a recent issue at the Coliseum on April 20 in which a light tower went out in the upper deck of the stadium -- causing a 25-minute delay -- as evidence that the A’s need to find a new home sooner rather than later.

“The existing facility is past its useful life,” Kaval said. “We had the lights go out the other night and couldn’t even get a game going. I think MLB is really seeing very clearly, and we agree with them, that with a lease only through 2024 and probably the earliest a ballpark can be built at Howard Terminal is 2027, we really need to start looking at some other options to have some viable alternatives for the club.”

Expanding on why the Coliseum is not seen as a desirable spot, Kaval said it is not fit for “baseball in the 21st century” based on the targeted areas for new ballparks that have opened up around the league in recent years. Kaval also pointed to the NFL’s Raiders and NBA’s Warriors -- who both left the site over the past few years.

“It’s important for people to understand that the most successful Major League ballparks are in downtown urban locations where people can walk, bike, come from their work or their living to the stadium for 81 days,” Kaval said. “The location here at the Coliseum -- two teams have already left this location. It’s just not a site that is conducive to the 21st century and not one where Major League Baseball would ever approve a group building. It’s really important that people understand that really our options in Oakland are limited to a downtown option, and that’s Howard Terminal.”

The A’s will work closely with MLB to determine the best cities to consider, though Kaval said the final specific locations will be determined by the league.

“We have a fully funded plan at the waterfront that we think is really tremendous with a great vision. But at the same time, we are going to start exploring other markets and talking to other communities,” Kaval said. “We need to have options and take the direction of Major League Baseball to ensure that we really advance the viability of the franchise for another generation.”

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf issued a statement urging the team and community to find common ground:

“We share MLB’s sense of urgency and their continued preference for Oakland. Today’s statement makes clear that the only viable path to keeping the A’s rooted in Oakland is a ballpark on the waterfront. We have made great strides with the Governor’s certification and release of the EIR [Environmental Impact Report]. Now, with the recent start of financial discussions with the A’s, we call on our entire community -- regional and local partners included -- to rally together and support a new, financially viable, fiscally responsible, world-class waterfront neighborhood that enhances our city and region, and keeps the A’s in Oakland where they belong.”